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Film facts | Plot summary | Trivia
Comments by Colin | Comments about Colin | Reviews of Fever Pitch | Favourite scenes | Web links | Credits
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Film Facts
Cinema release: Apr 97 (UK); Jul 97 (Norway); Aug 97 (Australia); Sep 97 (Germany, Sweden); May 98 (Denmark); Oct 99 (USA)

Director: David Evans

Screenplay: Nick Hornby

Producer: Amanda Posey

Casting Director: Liora Reich

Director of photography: Chris Seager

Editor: Scott Thomas

Original music by: Neill MacColl and Boo Hewerdine

Executive producers: Stephen Woolley and Nik Powell

A Wildgaze Films production for Channel Four Films, 1997.
Soundtrack: Fever Pitch : music and moments from the film. Blanco y negro. © Warner Music UK Ltd, 1997.

The film is available in NTSC and PAL VHS video formats, and on DVD, Region 2 encoded. Approx 97 minutes. Distributed by Film Four Productions. 

Main Cast

Paul Ashworth: Colin Firth

Sarah Hughes: Ruth Gemmell

Steve, Paul's mate: Mark Strong

Jo, Sarah's flatmate: Holly Aird

Young Paul: Luke Aikman

Paul's Dad: Neil Pearson

Paul's Mum: Lorraine Ashbourne

Ted the Headmaster: Ken Stott

Featuring Stephen Rea as Ray the School Governor.
Screenplay: Fever Pitch : the screenplay, by Nick Hornby. London : Indigo, 1997. ISBN 0575400846.

The book on which the screenplay is based was first published in 1992. The audiobook read by Nick Hornby is published by Harper Collins, ISBN 000104771X.
Book: Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby. London : Indigo, 1996. ISBN 0575400153.

Plot Summary
I have to vary the answers sometimes...

Paul Ashworth (Colin Firth) is a school teacher. He is an uncomplicated man whose life consists of his fan obsession with the Arsenal Football team. His growth from adolescence to adulthood is carefully woven with his love of this football team. Paul seems to go through his life totally unaware of the fact that he simply charms everyone. His love of the game is so strong that it affects his mother, sister, co-workers, students, and even their parents. Everyone feels that "Paul is Arsenal and Arsenal is Paul". 

Enter Sarah Hughes (Ruth Gemmell). Ms. Hughes. Will those charms of Mr. Ashworth work on "iron knickers Hughes"? Will Sarah be able to interest Paul in anything other than Arsenal? It's a joyful fight to the finish, with actual Arsenal football scenes and a look into Paul's young life where the seeds of his obsession began. 

Did you knowDirector David Evans
    The director David Evans's son features as the baby in the final crowd scene.The school filmed is Fortismere School, London.Nick Hornby can be seen as the coach of the school team losing nine-nil.A tea bar is usually a mobile caravan at football grounds, serving drinks and various unidentifiable hot snacks.
  • More trivia on the Glossary page.

Comments by Colin
"I've never been a football fan. But I think what being a serious fanatic is all about is living for those moments of euphoria. In many ways Nick is writing about things I know very well: I am a thrill seeker. I'm just not looking as actively for the fix as I used to be" (by The West Australian, 16 Jul 1997)

House hunting"The thing that struck me most when I read the book was something to the effect that a middle-class suburban male, when he steps into a comprehensive school, steps into a cultural void. We don't have things to weep into our beer about, we don't have that sense of pride in our identity, and so we go round trying to invent it, wishing we were Charlie George or someone." (interviewed by Jasper Rees, Elle UK, May 1997)

"There's this idea that if you like football, you also like beer and grabbing women's breasts. If you like rugby, you also like Dire Straits and wine. And if you don't like either, you must be a pacifist vegetarian who is oblivious to the charms of Michelle Pfeiffer" (interviewed by Mary Riddell, The Times, 25 Mar 1997)

"Half my mail comes from old ladies congratulating me on doing nice parts, not modern sweary parts" (article by Nick Hornby, The Observer, 23 Mar 1997)

"I first read 'Fever Pitch' when I was in Rome, and I got quite obsessed by it. I got a longing to be back in England, for those grey, damp, cheerless days." (by Steve Grant, Time Out, 19-26 Mar 1997)

Comments about Colin
"Colin Firth is marvellous as a shambling English teacher whose childhood vulnerabilities lie just beneath his obsession with the London soccer team Arsenal" (Ken Turnbull, Business Review Weekly - Australia, 1 Sep 1997)

In the suburbs"Colin Firth's adult Paul has the gruffness of his Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, as well as a lot of the charm. Tousle-haired and habitually apprehensive, he moves in a jerky, unco-ordinated way, fending off distractions for fear of complications" (Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Aug, 1997)

"Firth's achievement is to make his limited and difficult character likeable" (Evan Williams, The Weekend Australian, 23-24 Aug 1997)

"Firth strikes a very convincing balance of moroseness, excitability, narcissism and nice-guy charm" (Adrian Martin, The Melbourne Age, 21 Aug 1997)

"Firth cannot help but make Paul so impossibly charming you wonder what Sarah has to complain about" (Andrew Billen, The Observer, 30 Mar 1997)

"Firth is excellent as the hapless fan: dour, defensive and deadpan in his funny observations." (Chris Peachment, International Express, 9 Apr 1997)

Reviews of Fever Pitch
See Clare's collection of reviews from Australian and European newspapers and magazines. 

Favourite Scenes
I promise this won't be a regular feature of lifeWhich are yours?
  • Coffee cups
  • Men are 'colonisers'
  • Indian restaurant
  • Buying a house
  • First view of the stadium
  • Interview for Head of Year
  • Parent's evening advice
  • "I'd give up 50 Grand a year for a contract with Orient"
  • The Big Match 

Comments about the film
By Lisa. Coach Ashworth

I had a big, soppy grin on my face from the opening shot right through to the end. It *was* lovely to see Colin all over the screen, and to be in a cinema with a whole bunch of people, enjoying it and laughing together. 

It's a very English film, I have to say. Anyone who has ever seen a soccer match will respond to it. It's low key, gently funny, anti-romantic, occasionally exciting (you can't help getting carried away by the football excitement), and in my opinion, an excellent choice by Colin as a film to make. 

If you've read the screenplay (as I have), you'll know the story, but you still won't get the full measure of the feeling or tone of it. (Those of you who have seen it, I'd love to compare notes). It certainly isn't black and white - I had got the impression from some reviews that it was about Sarah being proved 'wrong' and Paul being proved 'right', but it definitely isn't like that. 

I've also read about how Nick Hornby had to 'sacrifice' most of his book and turn it into a romantic comedy. But the love story is very definitely between Paul and Arsenal as much as between Paul and Sarah. And the film conveys very well indeed what makes Paul feel the way he does about his soccer team. 

In the classroomOne of the things that amused me most about the film was incidental - the scenes with Mr Darcy and Mr Knightley (Mark Strong) being a pair of yobbos and talking about soccer. Makes you blink, just for a moment. 

Ruth Gemmell was very good, and her part wasn't nearly as unrewarding as I had expected - she gives an intelligent, full performance that really worked for me. One or two reviews have said it's hard to see why Sarah and Paul fall in love. I had absolutely no problem with that. The kid that plays Colin as a youth was good too - he looks a little bit like you imagine Colin might have looked, and as he becomes a teenager, he had obviously been studying how Colin walks - I recognised it immediately! 

Colin was adorable. And funny. And sweet. Some of the funniest moments are when he is swearing abominably. The biggest laugh came in the restaurant scene. Even lines that read on the page as if he is being aggressive or rude or impossible just don't come across that way, because of the charming way he plays them. He really gets inside the skin of the character. The moment where he holds up the baby - the look on his face, and the subtext you just knew was there - was adorable. 

Arsenal expertHe looks like an unmade bed, and doesn't care, and it is exactly right for the character. The hair has a gorgeous red tinge, especially in outdoors shots. In some scenes, he looks so handsome you just want to eat him up, and in others he looks dirty and rumpled and unshaven and - well, not perfect looking, but totally human. I paid especial attention to the thighs in the famous Arsenal boxer shorts, and I reckon they look very nice indeed, quite respectable, if perhaps not objects of lust (!) - but he does have rather thin arms. I like that - it makes him more vulnerable and approachable. He gives a lovely, understated, sweet, rumpled performance. Even the voice worked for me, in context.

Mr Darcy is the kind of man you want to fall down and worship in awe - the sort of classic good looks, reserve and romance and suppressed passion you just gaze at, open mouthed and misty eyed. But Paul Ashworth is the kind of man you'd *really* like to know, a good friend, a sweet and funny lover, the kind of man you'd go to for a cuddle and a good laugh, and you feel comfortable with, and you can tell him he's an idiot, and he'll take it.

Web links
ballReturn  to Main Roles page
ballClare's Fever Pitch glossary
ballThe Internet Movie Database entry for Fever Pitch
ballFever Pitch @ the FoF site
ballMurph's pages- includes listings for other Firth sites 
ballLisa's Overview of Colin's career

Written by Clare, Lisa and Mickie, edited by Mickie, designed by Clare and Jane;
Snappies taken by Sharon, Amy and Meluchie;
Photos from Fever Pitch press kit, French Vogue and Channel 4 website (now defunct);
This page is part of a project on the films of Colin Firth.

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