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The mysterious figure known as the Vampire comes to England to complete experiments in his mad bid to gain control of the world. When the radar-controlled Robot which he had ordered shipped to him is delivered instead to Mother Riley, the Vampire, through radar control, has the Robot transport itself as well as Mother Riley to the proper destination...as the old lady goes into a whirl of side-splitting action in a determined effort to frustrate the plans of the sinister Vampire. Written by
Arthur Lucan's drag character of old Mother Riley, whilst being somewhat of a big hit in England, never really made its mark here in America. Why? Well, for starters, the character of Old Mother Riley, a working class Irish woman who gets into all kinds of comedic situations, doesn't have the universal traits necessary to bring success out of England. There are jokes dealing with class and other very traditional English situations. I heard such awful things about this film in particular, being the last film Lucan did playing Mother Riley, and was honestly a bit pleasantly surprised. Sure this is pretty lowbrow stuff. A man in drag mugging for the camera at every opportunity. A series of comedic situations that were almost all slapstick oriented. One scene where Mother Riley breaks into song for no reason at all. And let's not forget the truly inane plot about confusing the names Riley and packages that were mixed up - with Old Mother Riley getting a robot that should have been sent to Bela Lugosi. But Lucan is talented to a degree and made me laugh a time or two. The film was very watchable. As for Bela Lugosi? He did this film as a means to make money so as to get passage back home for himself and his wife while they were in London after failing at a revival of Dracula on stage. This is probably his last good picture in terms of looking robust and relatively healthy prior to committing himself for drug rehabilitation. He looks good and he looks like he is having a lot of fun. There is one story circulating that Lugosi may not have even known Lucan was in drag at their first meeting - Lucan it seems never went out as himself in public but always as Mother Riley so as to preserve his personal life. At any rate, you might give this film a look while keeping a somewhat open mind. It's not Hamlet. It's not Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, but it does have its moments and it has Bela Lugosi. Lugosi is enough for me.
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