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This is such a funny film! It's a clever plot which owes more than
to the old "warhorse" Brewster's Millions, and is filled with the
lunacy which characterised so many British films made after
Alistair Sim is THE truly great British comic actor, even more so than Alec Guinness or Peter Sellers. To watch the scene when he tries to get arrested for shoplifting in the department store is to experience sheer comic inspiration.
I am no fan of remakes (have you seen the Thomas Crown remake!!), but funnily enough I am amazed that Hollywood hasn't had a go at this. In the right hands it could be made to work again.
This is a most excellent example of the comic talents of Alistair Sim.
bungling attempts to get himself arrested had me in stitches.
trying to get the store detective, or indeed anyone, to notice he was
his hand at shoplifting. And of course finding a crime that would only
him the 30 days in jail as stipulated in the will.
As someone else has mentioned he did have all the best lines, but the remainder of the cast did a great job, the mild mannered clerk who had to rob the bank where he worked, the overbearing snob who had to be a maid, the womaniser who had to marry the first woman he spoke to, all made for the usual mix of farce and comedy.
It was also notable for an early appearance of Audrey Hepburn as the cigarette girl.
What a great British comedy. First of all it was cool to see Fay
Compton from "The Hauting" and "Orson Welles' Otello" again. The script
is original and very funny in a lighthearted and intelligent way and
the actors are all just great. I liked the writer and his funny
secretary best. His spouse was really funny, too and her character made
me wonder what Hollywood would make out of it in a contemporary comedy:
I guess they would turn her character into "a lesbian", you know, one
of their silly clichés.
This movie is so much better than those dumb primitive comedies Hollywood treats its viewers to! See it if you have the chance.
One would be hard-pressed not to laugh along with the Russell family in the final scene of this, my most favorite of British post-war comedies. It is a comedy in every sense, albeit one which points up several life lessons as it unfolds. Alistair Sim - whose roles have run the gamut from Headmistress of a girls' public school (the St. Trinian's series)to benign assassin (The Green Man) to the dramatic (the quintessential Scrooge in A Christmas Carol) once again proves here that he is without doubt the best of many comic actors in the English cinema. Surrounded by a cast of equal talents (Fay Compton, George Cole, Guy Middleton, A.E. Matthews, John Laurie, and the irrepressible Joyce Grenfell) Sim leads a Light Cavalry charge through a wonderfully woven plot. There are wonderful morals to be learned here also. If you haven't seen this gem, by all means get the video and fill that gaping void in your filmic experiences.
Any film with Alastair Sim is worth watching, but this must rank as one of his best. Here he really displays his comic genius; his scenes can rightly be described as a masterclass in the art of comedy. Not before time, this has now become available on DVD, although, as yet, only part of a box set. Since Alastair Sim appears in the other films offered, this is not a great drawback. The other main characters in the film are also very good, particularly Fay Compton, and the supporting roles are filled well, with the always reliable Joyce Grenfell giving great satisfaction. The plot, too, is a cut above the usual, and it all adds up to a very satisfying experience, and one which I have watched many times, and hopefully will watch many more times.
This has got to be a classic of Ealing comedies.
Alistair Sim is at his best, the scene with the window (Fact-he ad-libbed most of the scene too)is proof that actors like him are few in between.
I saw this when I was a nipper as my father said that he enjoyed it when it first came out and even though I've seen it quiet a few times it's still fresh and amusing. Watch it and anything else with Mr Sims, this is British at it's best.
Alastair Sim would make a perfect undertaker. With those Bassett-hound
eyes and that mournful hand-wringing manner, he's made to preside over
the Slumber Room and ease you into the priciest model. So, it never
fails to surprise me that he's also a first-rate comedic actor, maybe
even the last word in droll comedy. And he pulls off the humor so
slyly, with just a minor change of expression. What a wonderfully
artistic contrast he is to today's rub- your-nose-in-it brand of
This is not his best vehicle, but the movie does have a clever premise and a couple of good set-upsthe shoplifting sequence, and any scene with Joyce Grenfell. The sketches, however, are more amusing than hilarious, and the humor never really peaks out in a climactic way. It's also perhaps one of the sweetest comedies on record, insisting that the key to happiness is pairing up with another, even in the case of those two cranky old people. That's the wisdom behind the will's requirement old man Russell makes each beneficiary experience what is most missing from his or her life, and in the process, become a better and happier person.
Note the shot taken early on at America's brand of hard-boiled detective fiction, probably then making inroads into popular British fiction. So, by combining America's street- tough style with traditional British prose, writer Russell (Sim) produces something amusingly ridiculous, like "Petal arched her alabaster arm above her patrician brow in a moment of precise exasperation before he smacked her in the kisser." Anyway, I thought those passages were both funny and cleverly offbeat. All in all, this little comedy may be no knee-slapper, but it is rather sweetly memorable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the very beginning this is a classic. The characters are built up
nicely, each one of them having a particular character flaw. Their dead
relative, henry russell (the practical joking man) has set them a task
they must achieve before they can gain their inheritance. seems pretty
simple on the base level. but when you look close it is a fantastic piece
social commentary and spiritual guidance. each character changes for the
better, having seen the light and the error of their ways doing something
they would never have thought of on their own. it takes something like
to show people their own faults and force them to do something about it.
this film does it with such class and grace that you can't helpt but find
a masterpiece. and i was a stoned 19 year od when i first watched it!! the
money not being there is the coup de gras and the perfect end to this
no one is that bothered about it, as their reward has already been
- the change to their lives that they all needed and didn't even know they
When well known practical joker and millionaire Henry Russell dies, his
surviving relatives are called together for the will reading. The will
leaves them each £50K if they can complete set tasks that go against their
nature within a set time period. Simmon Russell must marry the first woman
he meets after reading the will, Herbert must rob the bank he works at,
Agnes must serve as a maid and Deniston must commit a crime and go to jail.
As each goes off to try and complete their task they find that money is not
all that is to be had in the course of time.
I taped this film on the strength of George Cole and Alastair Sim starring in it. The plot is quite clever like a twist on the old Brewser's Millions tale. In fact it clearly had potential but, after the initial set up the film has little to do. Most of the characters seem to be hanging around waiting for the final third of the film to happen to them and it is a little dry at times. The comedy is OK but rarely hilarious or really clever.
The delivery of laughs really comes down to the cast and not so much the material. Cole is quite good and is pitching well with good timing. Sim is the best one of the lot and his scenes tend to be some of the best. Middleton only served to make me think that Terry-Thomas would have been better in the caddish role, while Compton is really used as the moral `life lesson' part of the film.
Overall this is an enjoyable film one that I'm surprised hasn't been remade in some form yet by Hollywood. It could easily be a silly comedy with a B-grade ensemble cast and work well. However this flags at times and isn't as funny as I'd hoped it would be.
Occasionally likable bit of British whimsy has the four greedy, spineless relatives of a deceased practical joker having to humble or humiliate themselves to get their share of the inheritance; naturally, behaving in a manner they're not accustomed to, they become better individuals. Nicely-cast comedy-drama gives Fay Compton in particular a marvelous role as a shrike who is reduced to working as a maid; small bits by Sebastian Cabot (as a poker player with marvelous eyes) and Audrey Hepburn (as a cigarette girl with a tiny little voice) are also worth noting. Hepburn made brief appearances in several British films of the early-'50s before her breakthrough role in 1953's "Roman Holiday", and it's clear from her cameo here that she had star-charisma but was in need of direction and molding. The picture isn't very funny or fresh, but there are bits and pieces which are successful. ** from ****
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