Jonathan Melville: A reminder how Scots films used to be made

Jonathan Melville
Jonathan Melville
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ON Page 3 of this week’s Guide you’ll find my interview with John Gordon Sinclair, one of Scotland’s biggest film stars of the 1980s and the man who taught us more Italian than we ever learned in school - “Bella, bella!” indeed.

Sinclair was a regular in the work of Bill Forsyth, the director who has done more for the depiction of Scotland on screen than perhaps any other in films such as Gregory’s Girl, Local Hero and Comfort and Joy.

The pair first worked together in 1980’s That Sinking Feeling, the story of a group of lads in Glasgow who decide to steal some sinks to make some cash. Sinclair was the lanky, slightly gormless Andy, who teams up with another Forsyth favourite, Robert Buchanan.

Sinclair and Buchanan would help Forsyth strike comedy gold with the following year’s Gregory’s Girl, reminding adults what it was like to be young and in love while teenagers saw themselves in Gregory’s embarrassing attempts to woo Dorothy (Dee Hepburn).

Then, in 1983, came Forsyth’s biggest success, Local Hero, a film that managed to perfect the type of Highland whimsy we hadn’t seen since 1949’s Whisky Galore while adding some topicality as the coastline was threatened by US oilmen.

John Gordon Sinclair’s appearance was almost a cameo here and it would mark his last collaboration with Forsyth until 1999’s ill-fated Gregory’s Two Girls, partly shot in Edinburgh.

Forsyth noted at the Edinburgh International Film Festival a few years ago that he was working on a new film, while Sinclair will be seen in the big budget World War Z in 2013.

It’s unlikely the pair will team up on anything new in the near future – Gregory’s Girl 3 anyone? - but I’d recommend picking up Gregory’s Girl on DVD soon to remind yourself how Scottish films used to be made.

• Visit www.reelscotland.com for more film discussion