While perusing the selections on Netflix streaming a while ago, I came across and watched a documentary called The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans. The scruffy and entertaining little doc focuses on a pair of fans who loved The Big Lebowski so much they created their own convention, Lebowski Fest, as a one-off event. They are amazed as this turns into a cottage industry and more Lebowski Fests take place around the country, even attracting Jeff Bridges as a guest.
I enjoy The Big Lebowski more than most people, I suppose, and probably would get a kick out of attending a Lebowski Fest, though I wouldn’t stand a chance in the trivia competition. I can spout off “That rug really tied the room together” and “The Dude abides” but after that my knowledge of Lebowski quotes begins to sputter out.
As The Achievers came to a close, I wondered what other cult films deserved their own gatherings, and which ones would I enthusiastically attend. It took me all of two seconds to think of A) Gregory’s Girl and B) Gregory Fest. And as soon as I conceived of a Gregory Fest, I wanted to go!
I want to go to a medium sized ballroom in a suburban Holiday Inn where fellow Gregory’s Girl fans are walking around saying, “It’s a well known fact” or “Saturday nights are special” or “Off you go, you small boys.” I want to see people dressed as soccer — sorry, football — players or penguins or wearing replicas of Steve’s spiffy white jacket. I want to patronize vendors selling T-shirts bearing such phrases as “Quick, Dorothy, to the Rick Mobile” or “OK, Mr. Spaceman” or “Naughty Night Nurse” or “Don’t stop dancing; you’ll fall off!” I want to sit in on panels discussing such relevant topics as The Velocity of a Sneeze or Conversational Italian or The Proper Spelling of Caracas.
That last panel would be a short one, admittedly.
I’m kidding, but not really. Gregory’s Girl is one of my absolute favorite films. I could watch it every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it. I first saw it in the theaters in 1982 when I was roughly the same age as the characters, maybe a little older, and marveled at how accurately writer and director Bill Forsyth captured the wonderful awkwardness of those first romantic impulses. When I saw it again some 20 years later, I watched with aching nostalgia. For all its moments of surreal comedy, no film depicts high school more accurately.
Gregory’s Girl has a devoted following. The British Film Institute ranked it No. 30 on its list of the top 100 British Films. Gregory’s Girl is rightfully revered in its native Scotland, and there have been retrospectives and cast reunions in Cumbernauld, where it was filmed.
I can’t afford to go to Cumbernauld, though, and I’m sure most American fans can’t either. We should have the chance to celebrate this special film at our own Gregory Fests, as carefully planned as Gregory’s date with Dorothy Carol Margo Susan. Guests at early Gregory Fests could include Robert “Andy” Buchanan and Graham “Charlie” Thompson, those two dispensers of well known facts. As Gregory Fests build momentum, they could work their way up to the two women who vie for the title, Dee “Dorothy” Hepburn and Clare “Susan” Grogan. And then, Gregory himself, John Gordon Sinclair, along with Bill Forsyth. And as long as I’m dreaming, Clare Grogan could headline an Altered Images reunion concert and we could all jam to “Funny Funny Me.” Hey, Jeff Bridges brings his band to Lebowski Fest.
But even if the best guest we could get is the kid in the penguin costume, Christopher Higson, I’d still love to go to a Gregory Fest and luxuriate in one of the sweetest, funniest movies ever made about love and football.
Who’s with me?