Fever Pitch

(A film discussion on Spring in February 1998)

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I LOVE this movie. The subject matter is perfectly believable; it could have been obsession for any sport; many scenes are wonderfully acted; there is very little that rings false for me; the dialogue is funny; CF is sexy as hell; and Paul is perfectly charming. I couldn't help but forgive him his obsessiveness. Romantic comedies are hard to rate because they seem so easy to do but I still give this movie a 10.

Favorite Lines: There are a bunch and they change often, but right now:
(1)  At parents/teachers conference. Paul: "He's a Spurs fan, isn't he. I'd go for 12 quid seats if I were you. Squeeze the bastard for all you can get." He delivers this line with such a cute smile.
(2)  Jo: "It's all a form of male manipulation. You get colonized." Aside from the extra heartbeat I get whenever I hear "colin" used in a sentence, Jo's comments ring true for me.
(3)  The restaurant scene. There are so many here. "You're careful and organized and methodical and all that sort of thing and that's why we work. I need somebody like that and you need somebody like me. The opposite." Paul is adorable here. "We can live near the grounds `cause it's cheap there. No one wants a football stadium on their front step. Except me. I'd pay extra." He really thinks he's going to sell Sarah on this. And of course, right before the infamous napkin scene Sarah says, "I'm impregnated by a twelve year old."
(4) When Paul tells Ted he's going to apply for the head-of-year position because Ms. Hughes is pregnant and Ted doesn't understand. "Sorry, I left a bit out. (little laugh) I'm the father."
(5) Sarah sees Paul celebrating after Arsenal's victory. Just the way she says, "I've never seen him so happy," it sounds so wistful. She just can't get over this guy.

Favorite Kissing Scene: I wish there were more but my favorite is when she's holding the coffee mugs. I just love the way he bends down to her, no touching but their mouths, then he straightens and takes the mugs from her and gets down to business.

Favorite Outfit: Odd category considering his wardrobe. Personally, I like men a bit disheveled so he appealed to me right off. I like his black T-shirt and jeans especially when he and Sarah are in the kitchen having their last fight and he's leaning against the kitchen sink. Yummy.

Favorite Scene: Too many to count really but I've narrowed it down. In no particular order: 
(1) Car after parent/teacher night. I love his swearing when he sees her (I'd like opinions why he is swearing) and again when he hears the Arsenal news on the radio; his correcting her when she says "Wolves United" (he just can't help himself); we see Sarah can laugh at herself when she says she is just being herself with her files and folders, how else could they ever have made it if she didn't have a sense of humor; asking him up for coffee.
(2) In the flat making him coffee. You can see the wheels turning in Sarah's head when she says her flatmate is away. Do you agree that she never intended to ask him to spend the night until that moment? She's embarrassed and there's this interminable silence. I love the expressions on his face (several Darcy looks here) and of course the kissing scene. When she tells him "not here, I can't afford it" (new carpet), he doesn't know what she's talking about but he just kind of grunts and follows her. I can watch this scene over and over.
(3) When Sarah goes to the Arsenal match. It's obvious to me that he doesn't really want her there but he sees she's in some distress and tries to protect her.
(4) The restaurant. He is so earnest and eager. When she takes his hand, he has this little smile as if she's holding it to be romantic but she's really trying to comfort him as she says, "I haven't made up my mind what I'm going to do about this yet. Do you understand?" "Yes. No, not really." There is no pretense with this guy, I love him. I don't know why though, he thinks this is his last chance at a relationship. I get the feeling he has never given any relationship a real chance.
(5) When he tells Ted he's applying for the head-of-year position. He can't understand why Ted is upset with him but even so, he's not bothered by it.
(6) Looking at the house near the Arsenal grounds. He is so eager, like the little boy he is, that he might be able to live here. He never looks at anything in the house, just the view and then he looks so crestfallen when he realizes Sarah is not convinced this is great.
(7) And right after in the car. She's trying to talk about where they might live but he's only tuned in to the match on the radio. "I'm talking to myself." Still, he's given up an afternoon of watching football to go house hunting with her. 
(8) He's walking down the school hallway with his boys, bouncing a ball. He stops bouncing when he sees Sarah and, when one of his boys starts bouncing his ball, he tells him to stop. Then "Ms. Hughes" as he passes. She stops and watches him walk away. Melts me every time.
(9) The victory celebration. When she sees him and he sees her, they just look at each other. Umm. They walk toward each other and sort of half circle each other before he bends down for the kiss. No words, just that sweet, loving look.

How about Darcy Looks, Sexiest Scene, Saddest Scene, Best Stubble, Best Use of Music, Paul's character assessment. And then there are several perplexing questions: How did he know she was pregnant? Will this marriage last? Why doesn't she ever have a key to his flat?

I give the screenplay adaptation a 6 and Colin's acting a 10. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it's nothing as to what I got. I was surprised by his character stretch, so unlike Darcy, so convincing. His character is comical and obnoxious. Swear words just roll off his tongue. I think he learned it when he was initiated into Arsenal by his father—the older men who talked about the team as being f***g rubbish.

I have a theory as to why he knew she was pregnant. Although his obsession is football, he's not totally oblivious as to what's going on around him. It's just that he refuses to participate unless it has to do with Arsenal. He's insightful. For instance there's the divorce of his parents which teaches him about relationships and when his dad asks: "Your mum seems in good form, is she okay." He answers "not really." I also think as a (English literature) teacher (if you're a good one) he had to know the subject well. His character is very intelligent (quite deep). Arsenal is his escape. Something to take him out of the real world when it gets too painful. (i.e., parent's divorce). However, he's stayed there a little too long. His family was broken but Arsenal accepted him ("If you put in the hours you're welcomed, without question, into a new family.")

Questions: What is the significance of the Bread Album? What is Bread? 

What is bolics (sounds like ball licks)?

What does "I don't want to do well in my mockos" mean? What are mockos?

Why doesn't Paul take the cigarette from his buddy when he offers it during the big game?

Also, I thought Paul said "miss you" to Ms. Hughes when he passed her in the school hallway. 

Best Use of Music: Lisa Stansfield's "Been Around the World." 

Best Stubble: After his school team loses the match and he's watching everyone walk away. 

Saddest Scene: When he yells out the window and tells whoever it is he doesn't want to see them. (He realizes that it's Sarah and by that time it's too late.)

If this marriage lasts, it will be a miracle. 

(Heide) I'd like opinions why he is swearing
It accentuates his immaturity. He's 15 going on 35.

Bollocks. British coarse slang for 1. testicles; 2. nonsense, rubbish

Mock O's. A type of trial exams (as a rehearsal before the real ones) 

You credit Paul with perception. You must be right because there are very few clues as to how he would know Sarah is pregnant. Does anyone have the screenplay? I understand there are scenes not in the movie. Maybe this becomes just a little more clear. I agree he's intelligent, although I don't know why he couldn't think of another D.H. Lawrence book besides Lady Chatterley. I agree about Arsenal being his family although it seems like he's still close with his mother. He says something during one of his voiceovers about everyone in the crowd being like one.

Who are the Bullet (sp.?) Brothers?

Paul didn't take the cigarette because he had quite smoking. Remember when Sarah took it up when she found out she was pregnant, she told Jo that Paul had given it up. As for "Miss you" or "Ms. Hughes," they do sound alike. "Miss you" is more poignant but I'll stick with the curt "Ms. Hughes."

We know Paul is swearing because he's 15 going on 35, but why is he swearing during that particular scene? Does he want to take Sarah home or not?

As a general comment, I would say that the Brits (and us Aussies) swear much more in everyday life than is normal in America, so that what might sound shocking is just normal conversation. I have had to really clean up my language since I came to the US. Even my mother comments that I don't swear so much!

[re: video box] Did anyone notice that in all the publicity shots, both Ruth Gemmell and CF have much shorter hair and CF looks quite unlike Paul Ashworth? He is clean shaven which he never is in the film.

(Heide) I LOVE this movie. The subject matter is perfectly believable; it could have been obsession for any sport; many scenes are wonderfully acted; the dialogue is funny; CF is sexy as hell; and Paul is perfectly charming.
DITTO, DITTO, DITTO Of course, I do like sports-related movies, but even though the sport here is totally alien to me, I can relate to it. Coming from a city that has a baseball team that hasn't won a national championship in like 50 years but people are still die-heart fans, this wasn't a stretch.

Favorite Lines
"I'm impregnated by a twelve year old."
Doesn't that line just sum it all up. He's a man-child, but not 50-50. He's more like 80% child. When Sarah says that she hasn't made up her mind yet and asks if he understands, first he says yes and then no. He hasn't a clue as to the grown-up choices she is confronting.

"Sorry, I left a bit out. (little laugh) I'm the father."
That whole discussion is hilarious. When he tells Ted that he's not going to embarrass the school and Ted replies they already have. Sarah having only been there about 5 minutes and he knocks her up.

Interview with the school's governors for head of year job
Stephen Rea's smarmy comments about his good taste and chatting up the faculty! 

I don't want to marry David Cassidy, etc.
Another insightful lecture by Sarah but thoroughly amusing!

Favorite Kissing Scene: To me better than the coffee cup kissing (that is, once it really gets under way which is indicated by the raising of his left shoulder), is the little montage after they have broken up and he is remembering their times together. She is attempting to get rid of the Arsenal shorts, he grabs her and they fall on the bed—all while the song "How Do You Hold On to a Dream" is playing. He looks so good in that scene.

Favorite Outfit: Definitely the denim shirt with the T-shirt underneath, followed second by that gray sweater he is wearing while playing subbuteo with Steve. However, throughout the entire movie, I had an uncharacteristic urge to want to tuck in his shirts, tops, etc. ;-) Truly bizarre.

Favorite Scenes:
(1) House hunting is my favorite. First, he is wearing my favorite outfit, but more importantly, he looks like the cat that ate the canary as he pretends not to know anything about the team. Sarah tells him that she will not indulge his fantasies. But the best part is to compare it with the Bread album scene. He tells Sarah that the album isn't right—too sweary—and she says that that may be the most romantic thing he has ever said. He gets all embarrassed and says "shut up." Here, looking at the house, he puts his arms around her (something you wouldn't expect) and is demonstrably affectionate with her. Maybe he's grown up a tad (just a tad).
(2) The victory celebration. I can watch this one over and over again, but I'm not sure how much has to do with the Van Morrison song or what's going on! At the very end, after they've met up and reconciled and she asks him about George Graham, I just love "has someone else noticed the resemblance" and his reaction.
(3) In bed when she asks him about Byron and he does quote some. But then he asks why she wanted to know and she says it was a bet. Paul asks, did you win and she kind of snorts back "I don't think so." I loved that.
(4) When she asks him what he is thinking about, he says D.H. Lawrence but can't come up with an intelligent comment. His line about having to vary the responses because he can't say Arsenal all the time was priceless. His obsession is so great that he can't come up with anything better than "which novel was longer."

Pregnancy Theory: My guess was he recalled her face at the soccer game just before. There was a shot of him looking at her being pushed and shoved by the crowd and the camera is fixed on her stomach. Then he asks her if she is OK. This might be a little far-fetched.

Saddest Scene: Definitely when his mother calls; he lies and doesn't tell her. Instead, he says that she gives her best and that they are going to eat dinner when we know he already has. He looks positively dismal and dejected. What thoughts were going through his head at that point?

Best Use of Music: I loved the entire soundtrack! But my favorites have to be the Van Morrison partying song, "Bright Side of the Road," and "How Do You Hang on to a Dream." Then there's the great Who song as young Paul has chucked his dad and is going to the Arsenal game by himself. That strutting walk reminds me of John Travolta's in Saturday Night Fever.

No one has mentioned the kid! I especially liked when his dad is suggesting they do something else and the kid says, "you mean, go see Jungle Book?" Then he tells his dad that they will never get beyond that stage. Priceless.

After Hillsborough, Paul apparently insults Sarah by saying that someday she will like something that "can't be ticked." What is this "ticked" thing? Maybe that will clear things up as to why she is so upset with that comment.

Near the end, when Sarah comes into his classroom because the play has started, one of the students says that Paul has the "hump" I think?

Fever Pitch is a funny film which brings the ups and downs in the life of a fan to the point, and Colin's portrayal of Paul's emotions is excellent and makes us understand his struggle with life. After TEP I was very happy to see a film with so much Colin in it. On the other hand I was a little disappointed about the relationship between Sarah and Paul and the ending. I think Fever Pitch is not a book for which "translation" into a film is easy.

But FP has so many wonderful moments. Harold Finlay wrote in Attitude (April 1997) about Colin as "the little vulnerable boy trapped in a grown man's body," which also describes Paul well, I think.

Some of my favorites are: 
(1) the coffee-kissing scene: intimate but still showing distance
(2) the park bench scene: best intentions on Paul's side
(3) the Bread album
(4) the discussion about holidays and fixture lists, when Paul says: "That shows what you know about it" with that irresistible smile on his face
(5) looking for a new flat, when he tells Sarah why he always wanted to live near the stadium and she hugs him

Of course the Darcy scenes:
(1) Paul's expression during the job interview after the nasty comment about his relationship to Sarah
(2) Paul pacing to and fro during the decisive match: "I didn't want to get this close." (insert Arsenal or Elizabeth)
(3) his expression, when he realizes that Sarah was at the door
(4) his leisurely walk in the end has a light o-shaped look like the walk towards Rosings

As a favorite outfit I would choose the black leather jacket.

When Sarah goes to the football match with Paul she puts her hand on her belly when they are trapped in the crowd. Did she know at that time about the pregnancy?

I had to watch FP about 3 times before I could say I liked it. I think this is primarily because of the language. I find myself listening really hard, trying to figure out the words first then decipher the slang. Also, originally, I thought Paul was simply not likable enough. However, once I understood what he was saying and how subtle Colin's performance is, I started to like him very well indeed.

(Heide) The subject matter is perfectly believable, it could have been obsession for any sport
That's what I didn't catch the first time around. Not being a fan of football, I couldn't imagine someone being that devoted. I was dismissing it simply because I don't like it myself. Then I realized that I'm just as bad. I'm a hockey fan—a big, vulgar, hat-throwing, stat-spouting hockey fan. Very often my mood is determined by a win or loss the night before. I've religiously followed superstitious rituals if I thought it would help my team. I've been morbid ("What's the point of it all") and elated ("I had a feeling"). Like Paul, I spent 20 years waiting for a win. And when it finally happened, I can honestly say that it was one of the best moments of my life. But most of my family and friends think I'm nuts. As Paul says himself "Perhaps it's something you can't understand unless you belong."

Favorite Lines:
(Heide's) "I'm impregnated by a twelve year old."
Poor woman...a moment of realization.

A few others:
(1) "Stephen, you've got your hand in the air"
(2) "I've seen this film. You end up shagging on the carpet"
(3) Sarah: "Paul, that's the most romantic thing you've ever said to me" Paul: "Shut up"
(4) "Jesus, Paul, you need medical help. You got some kind of disease that turns people into miserable bastards"

Favorite Kissing Scene: I'm afraid I don't have one :-(  Nothing really juicy about the kissing, IMO. 

Favorite Scenes: In addition to the others mentioned by Heide:
(1) The pandemonium in the first classroom scene.
(2) The parent-teacher conference. You get a feeling for how charming he is and why he's so well-liked.
(3) Scene in the car after the conference. "that was me being myself."
(4) The pep talk to his student after his team loses. "If you had a choice of winning today or Arsenal winning tomorrow."
(5) Sarah (at the party) realizing that her students do appreciate her.
(6) Paul holding the baby.

(Jana) What is the significance of the Bread Album? What is Bread?
Bread is a painfully sappy American band from the mid-70s. They were famous for melancholy love songs. However, their songs are the type that everyone knows the words to but won't admit it. Like the Carpenters (but not so cheerful).

(Heide) We know Paul is swearing because he's 15 going on 35, but why is he swearing during that particular scene?
Because he has to choose between doing the correct and adult thing (to give a lady a ride home in the pouring rain) or what he really wants to do—leave her there to fend for herself. I don't think it's because he dislikes her (quite the contrary), but because he thinks she doesn't like him.

(Allison) Did anyone notice that in all the publicity shots, both Ruth Gemmell and CF have much shorter hair and CF looks quite unlike Paul Ashworth? He is clean shaven..
Yes. I imagine the publicity shots were done after the filming. I much prefer the clean-cut Colin anyway (which is why I chose that photo) :-)

Just a couple more things. I love that whole introspective narration (after the argument between Paul and Sarah) that starts with "Football has meant too much to me" and ends with "A world that doesn't stop in May and begin again in August." It's a wonderful bit of insight into Paul's character.

I think it's very clever that they keep track of time by showing the date and the Arsenal game of that day. It's just more reinforcement that Paul's whole world revolves around the game.

Can someone explain the flowers that the Arsenal players carry on the field at that last game? Is that some traditional thing?

(Sylvia) When Sarah goes to the football match...Did she know at that time about the pregnancy?
Yes, she knew because his phone call to her was that night. I don't recall that she put her hand on her stomach during the match. I just remember that the camera focused in on it and that Paul looked at her then.

(Nan) Nothing really juicy about the kissing, IMO.
Take another look. The falling onto the bed scene (OK, no actual kissing, but he doesn't look any better than that!) and then in the coffee scene, look at him as he puts his shoulder into it (not quite as good shoulder action as in Tumbledown, but will do.)

Question: Why do you think "Iron Knickers" Hughes told him he could stay the night? 

Earlier, I had asked what "got the hump" meant. But now I have a translation and, for the rest of you, it means "got upset." Well, that was a let down, wasn't it? ;-)

(Heide) The Bollocks Brothers
It must have been some sort of an obscure sweary-comedy group, I think. 

(Nan) I had to watch FP about 3 times before I could say that I liked it. I think this is primarily because of the language...trying to figure out the words first then decipher the slang. Also, originally, I thought Paul was simply not likable enough.
That, in a nutshell, is the sad but understandable reason why this film was deemed not suitable for general release in the US.

(Heide) why is he swearing during that particular scene? 
(Nan) Because he has to choose between doing the correct and adult thing...or what he really wants to do—leave her there to fend for herself.
And there is a sports broadcast just coming on the radio and he'd rather listen to that without having to chat politely with her. He ends trying to juggle both with more hilarious moments.

(Karen) that still leaves that "tick" comment!
Oh, to tick means to mark with a V to denote correctness, check items on a list etc. Does that help? 

Finally, the scene when she says he can spend the night seems a little too contrived to me. It happens too suddenly. But then I suppose it's to show that she, a modern woman, wants to be in charge, rather, than wait for him to woo her, which might have never happened.

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