Just like British film critic Leslie Halliwell's sometimes odd choice of rosettes on his "Filmgoers' Companion" singling titles from someone's filmography which he deemed to represent them at their best but which were often not their best or best-known work the choice of films included among his favourites in the two apposite books he penned were likewise (and appropriately so) more personal. Therefore, instead of including the best-regarded George Formby vehicle LET GEORGE DO IT! (1940; to which he awarded ** in his "Film Guide"), we have instead this earlier one to which he only rated a * although, to be fair, the star is italicized therein (meaning in top form), ditto the film itself in his filmography (meaning a significant one) in the "Companion"!
British comic Formby the buck-toothed simpleton who strummed a ukelele was very popular during WWII and is still fondly-remembered even by local people who lived during those times (in fact, I acquired a whole bunch of his films through one of them); for the rest of us, he is now decidedly a matter of taste. Having said that, I quite enjoyed this one and even laughed out loud at times and the same applies to the couple of others I have watched beforehand. Following in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd and anticipating Danny Kaye, Abbott & Costello and Marin & Lewis, Formby here dons boxing gloves as he is ironically chosen to illustrate the titular campaign initiated by a local newspaper to boost sales over its rival; the fact that the narrative also sees our hero try his hand at athletics and rowing, it would seem that two Buster Keaton vehicles BATTLING BUTLER (1926) and COLLEGE (1927) were the virtual template for this one down to Formby being dubbed "The Battling Barber" after accidentally knocking down his virile macho colleague. Par for the course, the latter (curiously played by the flabby and relatively unattractive Guy Middleton) also happens to be Formby's rival for the attentions of their firm's manicurist (Kay Walsh).
There would be little point in narrating comedy sequences when these should be seen to be properly enjoyed; suffice it to say that there is the standard array of misunderstandings, impersonations (provided by Formby's equally gormless stage-struck chum George Benson) and crooks expected in such a scenario and milieu. I would rather address the subject of Formby's ditties which, while invariably catchy and popular (they were even sold as singles!), provide some unwarranted embarrassment nowadays when we are supposed to believe that they make the initially snobbish Kay Walsh sway and jive to their rhythm!
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