Bill Harper and Petronilla Brand are a young couple that, through a series of mishaps and accidents, get unintentionally involved in a brandy-smuggling (from France) racket. Because of an accidental sinking of Tony Rackham's boat, Bill and Patricia take him across the Channel on their boat which, to their dismay, is soon filled with several kegs of brandy. It then evolves into a series of intentional and unintentional dodges trying to evade the Customs officials. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Five and twenty ponies, Trotting through the dark - Brandy for the Parson, ' Baccy for the Clerk.
Brandy for the Parson comes out of Group 3 Productions and Southall Studios. It's directed by John Eldridge and adapted for the screen by John Dighton (The Man in the White Suit/Kind Hearts and Coronets) & Walter Meade (Scott of the Antarctic) from a story by Geoffrey Household. It stars James Donald, Kenneth More, Jean Lodge, Frederick Piper, Charles Hawtrey & Alfie Bass. Music is by John Addison and Martin Curtis is on cinematography.
Young couple Bill (Donald) & Petronilla (Lodge) find their yachting holiday turned upside down after a collision with Tony Rackham (More). For Tony is smuggling Brandy from France to London! And now that he has no boat, the young couple are obliged to help him. With the Customs Office on their tail and their destination seemingly miles and miles away, it will need a lot of fortune to go their way if they are to evade capture and stay out of prison.
No doubt about it, Brandy for the Parson is something akin to entering a time warp. But that is meant in the nicest possible way. Group 3 was a British company set up to give young film makers a chance in the industry, some of their 50s productions have finally made it on to DVD. The likes of Miss Robin Hood, The Love Match, Orders Are Orders, Make Me an Offer and this here smuggling caper, all encompass a British sensibility that makes them stand out on their own: well more that they can't be bracketed with the best of Ealing, Powell & Pressburger and the Boulting Brothers. They are film's that are rough around the edges but have a charming appeal that's unique to fans of British comedy movies from the 50s. With that in mind, they are not for everyone, and certainly not all of them are film's easy to recommend. But for those of a similar persuasion to myself there is much to enjoy.
Brandy for the Parson only runs at 73 minutes and does contain a cast worthy of a bigger production. Kenneth More is now the name actor on show, tho at the time of release he was secondary to James Donald, while Hawtrey, Bass and Piper are well known for work elsewhere. But it's a fine collective of actors regardless of budget. The film eases along without any need for exuberance, it's a solid premise that sees the innocent pulled into an adventure that they didn't court. The fun is not so much that they are fishes out of water, the entertainment is that they embrace the challenge and take it on with a stiff upper lip. Not to mention the number of characters they meet along the way who are only too eager to help our needy trio; regardless of knowing the truth or not. Away from the safe story and how it's knowingly acted, the work of Addison and Curtis is worthy of a second viewing. Addison's score is jaunty and completely in keeping with the pace of the film, while Curtis' photography brings to life a Devonshire harbour and captures some beautiful English countryside in a way that the great Jack Cardiff would have been proud of.
So easy on the eyes and ears, then, and also a film that is easy to warm too for those not expecting side splitting satire or farce. 7/10
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