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It's a Grand Life (1953)

 |  Comedy  |  November 1953 (UK)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 38 users  
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Classic British comedy following an accident-prone army Private, played by music hall legend Frank Randle in his final screen role, as he attempts to rescue a Corporal (played by icon Diana... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Randle ...
Cpl. Paula Clements
Dan Young ...
Michael Brennan ...
Sgt. Maj. O'Reilly
Jennifer Jayne ...
Pvt. Desmond
John Blythe ...
Pvt. Philip Green
Anthony Hulme ...
Capt. Saunders
Charles Peters ...
Pvt. Rubenstein
Arthur White ...
Pvt. Prendergast
Leslie Gould
Kevin Peters
Ian Fleming ...
Mr. Clements
Ruth Taylor ...
Mrs. Clements
Jack Pye ...
Himself, Wrestler
Bill Gernon ...
Himself, Wrestler


Classic British comedy following an accident-prone army Private, played by music hall legend Frank Randle in his final screen role, as he attempts to rescue a Corporal (played by icon Diana Dors) from the attentions of a predatory Sergeant-Major. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

November 1953 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Frank Randle
23 September 2006 | by (Cornwall, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I do love the old black & white British comedies of the 30s, 40s, 50s and early 60s and I note that Odeon Entertainment is bringing out a series of classics covering this era. I recently purchased "Double Bunk" and "It's a Grand Life" has just been added to my collection.

I cannot recall seeing this film before which dates from 1953. The top two stars are Frank Randle, whom I associate more with music hall than film, and Diana Dors who is instantly recognisable by her trademark long blonde hair. She provides the glamour/love interest.

The film is about army life and Frank Randle plays an eccentric/incompetent Private Randle who attempts to frustrate the amorous intentions of an army sergeant major, played by Michael Brennan, towards Miss Dors (Corporal Paula Clements) who only has eyes for another.

The film is very much in the style of music hall with fast dialogue and memorable one-liners. It put me in mind of another film, Arthur Askey and "Ghost Train".

There is a kind of musical 'interlude' during all the fast action when there is a rare appearance on film by Winifred Atwell who interrupts the quick-fire dialogue, which can feel just a little monotonous at times, unless you like that kind of thing. Miss Atwell plays a medley of some of her favourite tunes on the piano in a style that is uniquely her own. A highly competent, ubiquitous entertainer and fine musician in her time.

The film is described as a comedy and it will definitely appeal to a particular type of audience, probably now well past middle age. Many of the scenes will appear childish, silly and not particularly funny by modern tastes but this comedic style was popular in the 30s, 40s and early 50s. Things began to 'quieten down' in the late 50s and 60s. Remember "Carry on Sergeant"? In my opinion the first of the Carry Ons is a much better film because it explores the complex relationship between a group of new recruits with a tough army sergeant, played by William Hartnell, who is shortly to retire having never trained a top platoon. 'It's a Grand Life', by comparison, is thin on plot, relying in the main upon a series of unbelievable military situations and played in a knockabout, no-brainer style. But this form of comedy was what Frank Randle was perhaps best known. It therefore deserves to be called a classic.

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