Big Banana Feet  (12A) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Murray Grigor, US,  1977, 77 mins

Cast:  Billy Connolly and friends

Review by Carol Allen

The man with the big banana feet of the title is Glasgow comedian Billy Connolly, seen here in the British Film Institute’s restoration of director  Murray Grigor’s documentary about the Scottish comedian’s 1975 tour of Ireland.  

The famous boots, created for him by Glaswegian pop artist Edmund Smith and which Connolly wore on stage throughout the seventies, look distinctly dodgy to walk in but the comedian was a lot younger then and the boots themselves are now safely on display in the People’s Palace, Glasgow.

Grigor’s film is a “fly on the wall” piece, intercutting clips from the stand up show with illuminating footage of the comedian backstage, drinking tea (no alcohol) in the dressing room before the show and teasing the tea lady about the slow pouring pot; chatting to his support team and most illuminatingly talking to the press in both Dublin and Belfast.

This was a time when the troubles in Northern Ireland were at their height.  When asked in Dublin if he’s a bit scared at the thought of  performing in Belfast, the answer is yes, but once there his Scottish chutzpah wins the audience over with a satirical routine about how the British soldiers are recruited, which then allows him to get a laugh by shouting  “Boom” when presented with flowers at the end of the show.  

The documentary itself looks distinctly old fashioned in both style and technical quality, despite the restoration.   After all it is nearly 50 years old.  But it’s great to see the young Connolly again, all cheeky charm, bouncy red hair and vulgar jokes about wee, willies and four letter words. 

He’s not a great singer and I don’t really reckon his banjo playing much.   But his Glaswegian style humour stands the test of time and is still very funny. 

“Big Banana Feet” is in selected cinemas from 10th May and will also be released on DVD and Blu-ray in a Dual Format Edition by the BFI on 20th May with a selection of extra features and an illustrated booklet.