After a night of drunken revelry, Oxford student and prankster Arthur Linden-Jones is confined to school grounds. That evening, Arthur has the lead in the Victorian farce "Charley's Aunt." Not wanting to loose the profit from ticket sales, Arthur sneaks off campus. His escapades find him and his friends, Burton and Brown, in even deeper trouble. Appealing to their Dean's interest in Egypt, they create a story about Brown's philanthropic aunt being an Egyptologist. When the Dean requests a meeting with the lady, Arthur puts on a dress and becomes "Aunt Lucy." Written by
This English farce is actually titled 'Charley's (Big-Hearted) Aunt' and Richard Murdoch is credited with '(Stinker)' in the middle of his name. It also stars Arthur Askey, a long-forgotten English entertainer, whose talents on display here certainly do not rate a revival. There's a nice attempt at using 'Charley's Aunt' as almost a play-within-a-play, but the efforts, however pleasant and frantic, are quite predictable and ultimately tiresome. Cute at the time, perhaps, but a dry fossil for today's audience. Even though it's only meant as a silly comedy, it's still bizarre to feature the virtually middle-aged Askey as an Oxford undergraduate. A professor, yes; a student, quite absurd. At least Graham Moffatt is, and looks, the age of a student, but that makes Askey's casting even more off-putting (incidentally, Moffatt plays a character named Albert which for some odd reason is the same character name he goes by in most of the films he ever made). Also odd is that the woman character Askey is supposed to be duplicating in drag looks nothing like her (and Felix Aylmer's character once dated the real woman yet doesn't seem to question the ugly homunculus version that Askey creates... then doesn't recognize the well-kept real version when she shows up). In fact, Askey barely bothers to even alter his masculine voice during the masquerade, inviting even more skepticism of both the charade and Askey's performance. But it is done with a light enough sense of humor that it toddles along amiably, all clichés intact, with laughs for those easily amused by another English music hall performer donning woman's clothing.
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