An eccentric old lady decides the best way to pass on her fortune to her idiot nephew and keep it safe from her rapacious relatives is to hide it in a chair and get the nephew to buy it at auction. How could such a simple plan go wrong?
After the success of No Limit it was only natural that producer Basil Dean would want to re-team its stars George Formby and Florence Desmond. Sadly, their relationship was still sour from the first film and they refused to speak to each other on set. This doesn't show on screen, but that's because, like most of Formby's female co-stars, she has the straightman role and has little to do except let him get on with his antics. No wonder Miss Desmond was miffed.
His other co-stars Gus McNaughton and Alastair Sim have more to do. McNaughton joins in the search for the chair with Formby, while Sim tries to get the chair for himself. Sim's crooked solicitor is the most memorable character in the film. His unctuousness and weirdness provide a great foil for Formby's gormlessness. The other Formby foil is little Fiona Stuart, a.k.a. Binkie Stuart, Britain's answer to Shirley Temple. Considering her age (four or five), she handles the demands of the script well; but it's likely that most modern audiences will find her charm resistible.
There is a law which states that any musical comedy with a toddler has to feature a lullaby scene and this one is no exception. Formby gets to sing the song "Goodnight Binkie" to the little darling but it's the saucy "When I'm Cleaning Windows" that makes an impact. It would become one of Formby's standards.
The comic set-pieces involve Formby wrecking a magician's act, being caught hiding under a lady's bed, and struggling to get a goat on a bus. They all work efficiently and provide an entertaining night out at the cinema.
Script adapt.: Tom Geraghty, Ian Hay, Anthony Kimmins. (o.a. Elie Ilf, Eugene Petrov)
Director: Monty Banks
Players: Harry Tate, Fiona Stuart, Hal Gordon, Fred Culpitt, Enid Stamp Taylor, Tom Payne, Clifford Heatherley, Margaret Moffatt, Maud Gill, Mike Johnson, Dame May Witty, Syd Crossley, Frank Perfit
When a boy becomes convinced that his pet goat is a unicorn, miracles start to happen to the people of Petticoat Lane market. A great cast and Technicolor help keep it fresh but the sentiment dates it.
Script adapt.: (o.a.) Wolf Mankowitz
Director: Carol Reed
Players: Celia Johnson, Diana Dors, David Kossoff, Sidney James, Sydney Tafler, Brenda de Banzie, Primo Carnera
Two lads decide to "adopt" a baby when they aren't allowed to keep a dog. Charming film with a special Oscar a-piece for Jon Whiteley and Vincent Winter.
Script: Neil Paterson
Director: Philip Leacock
Players: Duncan Macrae, Jean Anderson, Adrienne Corri, Theodore Bikel, Francis de Wolff, James Sutherland, John Rae, Jack Stewart, Jameson Clark, Eric Woodburn, Howard Connell, Christopher Beeny
Did making a film in Britain ever resurrect a fading Hollywood career? Here the star who should have known better is Pat O'Brien playing an alcoholic reporter who confesses to the murder of his editor in order to get money from the real killer to pay for his son's operation. And if that synopsis doesn't put you off then Tommy Steele's debut performance just might.
Script: Robert Falconer, Manning O'Brine
Director: Terence Fisher
Players: Lois Maxwell, George Coulouris, Wensley Pithey, Freddie Mills, Ronald Adam, Richard Pasco
Ealing comedy without the cosiness and sentimentality - this is black, sophisticated and witty. Alec Guinness plays eight members of a family bumped off by Dennis Price's black sheep in his rise to a dukedom. Valerie Hobson plays good but dull; Joan Greenwood plays bad but fun.
Script adapt.: Robert Hamer, John Dighton. (o.a. Roy Horniman)
Director: Robert Hamer
Players: Audrey Fildes, Miles Malleson, Clive Moreton, Hugh Griffith, Peggy Ann Clifford, Arthur Lowe
Charlie Chaplin is the King who is exiled in America and comes up against the full force of capitalism and the communist witchhunts of the fifties. As a satire it would have worked better if it had been funny and less preachy.
Script: Charles Chaplin
Director: Charles Chaplin
Players: Dawn Addams, Maxine Audley, Jerry Desmonde, Oliver Johnston, Harry Green, Sidney Green, Shani Wallis, Joy Nichols, George Woodbridge
Life in a tough Caribbean prison camp, with Conrad Veidt as the prisoner who tries to get justice.
Script adapt.: Charles Bennett, A.R. Rawlinson, Sidney Gilliat. (o.a. John Chancellor)
Director: Walter Forde
Players: Helen Vinson, Cecil Ramage, Noah Beery, Edmund Willard, Percy Parsons, Raymond Lovell
Tolerable version of the H. Rider Haggard novel. Paul Robeson's star presence and a witty script lift it above the ordinary. Anna Lee's ingénue is pretty dreadful but the rest of the cast acquit themselves well. Some of the backgrounds are unconvincing and it's clear that only the stand-ins got to film in Africa, but it mostly looks good. Highlights include Robeson's duetting on Climbing High with an echo of himself, the mad witch deciding who lives or dies, and of course the volcanic finale.
Script adapt.: Michael Hogan, Roland Pertwee, A.R. Rawlinson, Charles Bennett, Ralph Spence. (o.a. H. Rider Haggard)
Director: Robert Stevenson
Players: Cedric Hardwicke, Roland Young, John Loder, Sydney Fairbrother, Makubalo Hlubi, Homo Toto, Robert Adams, Alf Goddard
Ivor Novello's romantic musical is brought to the screen with ageing couple Anna Neagle and Errol Flynn in the leads. Everything about this film seems past its sell-by date, but if you're keen on the genre then it's worth a look.
Script adapt.: Pamela Bower, Christopher Hassall, A.P. Herbert. (o.a. Ivor Novello)
Director: Herbert Wilcox
Players: Patrice Wymore, Martita Hunt, Finlay Currie, Francis de Wolff, Joan Benham, Reginald Tate, Miles Malleson, Lionel Blair
A draper's assistant comes into money and launches himself on society.
Enjoyable version of the H.G. Wells tale.
Script adapt.: Sidney Gilliat. (o.a. H.G. Wells)
Director: Carol Reed
Players: Michael Redgrave, Diana Wynyard, Phyllis Calvert, Michael Wilding, Arthur Riscoe, Max Adrian, Helen Haye, Lloyd Pearson, Edward Rigby, MacKenzie Ward, Hermione Baddley, Betty Ann Davies, Betty Jardine, Frank Pettingell, Beatrice Varley, George Carney, Irene Browne, Peter Graves, Kathleen Harrison, Muriel Aked, Philip Frost, Viscount Castlerosse, Diana Caulderwood, Arthur Denton, Robert McCarthy, Felix Aylmer, Marda Shannon, Carol Gardiner
Frenchman causes havoc to the lives of the women around him.
One of the only grown-up sex comedies of the fifties, this features Gérard Philipe in his only English film, and Valerie Hobson in her last.
Script adapt.: Hugh Mills, René Clément, Raymond Queneau. (o.a. Louis Hémon)
Director: René Clément
Players: Joan Greenwood, Margaret Johnson, Natasha Parry, Diana Decker, Germaine Montero, Percy Marmont, Eric Pohlmann, Bill Shine, Mai Brown, Margot Field, Julie Anslow, Harry Towb, Gerald Campion, Martin Benson, Eileen Way, Arthur Howard, Beryl Cooke, Judith Nelmes, David Coote, Richard Hart
British spy gets involved with the Russian Revolution and a beautiful Countess.
Korda threw all he had at this tosh including stars Robert Donat and Marlene Dietrich. It doesn't quite work but there's plenty to enjoy.
Script adapt.: Frances Marion, Lajos Biro, Arthur Wimperis. (o.a. James Hilton)
Director: Jacques Feyder
Players: Irene Vanburgh, Herbert Lomas, Austin Trevor, Basil Gill, John Clements, Hay Petrie, Miles Malleson
Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner are Lancelot and Guinevere in this daft version of the Arthurian legends. MGM pulled out all the stops for this, their first film in Cinemascope.
Script adapt.: Talbot Jennings, Jan Lustig, Noel Langley. (o.a. Sir Thomas Malory)
Director: Richard Thorpe
Players: Mel Ferrer, Stanley Baker, Anne Crawford, Felix Aylmer, Maureen Swanson, Gabriel Woolf, Anthony Forwood, Robert Urquhart, Niall MacGinnis, Dana Wynter, Patricia Owens