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Orders Are Orders (1954)

Movie company wants to shoot a science-fiction film using an Army barracks as location, and its soldiers as actors. Of course, the Commander doesn't like it a bit, and persuades the crew to use a nearby haunted house instead.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Reece ...
Margot Grahame ...
Raymond Huntley ...
Sidney James ...
Lt. Wilfred Cartroad
June Thorburn ...
Peter Martyn ...
Lt. John Broke
Maureen Swanson ...
Joanne Delamere
Clive Morton ...
Lt. Gen. Sir Cuthbert Grahame Foxe
Bill Fraser ...
Edward Lexy ...
Capt. Ledger
Michael Trubshawe ...
A.D.C. Lt. MacAllister
Maureen Pryor ...
Pvt. Waterhouse


Movie company wants to shoot a science-fiction film using an Army barracks as location, and its soldiers as actors. Of course, the Commander doesn't like it a bit, and persuades the crew to use a nearby haunted house instead.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

group 3 | remake | based on play | See All (3) »







Release Date:

October 1954 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Film debut of David Lodge but his scenes were deleted from the final print. See more »


The Adjutant salutes 2 women, neither of whom are in uniform, neither are officers, both are in fact civilians. A salute is reserved for Officers, you do NOT salute civilians. See more »


Remake of Orders Is Orders (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

Peter Sellers in his first* feature film "and introducing Tony Handcock"
30 October 2015 | by (London) – See all my reviews

This a fairly unremarkable film from the era except for the presence of the two (later) major stars - but well worth seeing for the jewel of a performance from Sellers. Both went on to make their names in comedy but this meeting on film was to be the one and only. Did each or either sense that the other was a potential rival? Their parts here are completely without interaction. Thereafter their paths diverged, Sellers became a bigger and bigger name in cinema and Hancock instead found success on television. Very interesting to compare and contrast the two performers and performances.

Both had had success on radio playing a wide range of characters (voices). Sellers though excelled as comic character actor of chameleon like abilities as can be seen here but was never a comedian with his own comic personna. Hancock however was more comedian than character actor other than briefly burlesqueing a range of (much) earlier British film star performers. With the aid of comedy writers Alan Simpson and Ray Galton Hancock did go on to establish a comic personna - not apparently too far away from his real self - but in time became uncomfortable surrounded by a regular cast and finally - but most memorably and successfully - became the sole star of his show. The demons however did not stop, he became dissatisfied with the character and format but was tragically unable to find a successor. Hancock was an acknowledged genius but with an elusive ill-definable talent. Here he looks uncomfortable and uncertain unsupported by a hit and miss script. He was never to find his feet in films, perhaps the validation of a live audience had been essential to calm his insecurities.

In contrast Seller's performance was as complete and brilliant as it ever was, unsurprisingly he became a film star in his own right within a few short years. Few could have failed to notice his talent here as half of a crafty fiddling duo of barrack orderlies (the other half the excellent comic character actor Bill Fraser). Their short scene together about 50 minutes in, with Brian Reece as the amorous Captain, is a jewel and as complete, self-assured and accomplished as anything Sellers subsequently did for Ealing, with this part of the script at least fitting like a glove.

Some reviewers scoff at the threadbare nature of the supposedly big American Sci-Fi feature shot at the barracks but this is to misunderstand almost everything. Clearly the fictional production was a very very budget affair, actual manned space flight was then still 3 years away. And Britain itself in 1954 was threadbare - rationing had only finished 2 years earlier and the film markets and actual budgets were around 10% of their American equivalents. That being said, the biggest grandest pre-war science fiction film of all "The Shape of Things to Come", was British, born apparently of a highly advantageous tax arrangement. Again, oddly, American budget sci-fi and pot-boiler feature films of this era were very adept at looking far grander than their actual budgets.

For fans, watch this film to see the earliest appearance of the mega-star Sellers was to become. Either sit through or skip through the mainly "chaotic and shouty" parts another reviewer nicely describes.

*Sellers had made 3 earlier films, zany unsuccessful very low budget affairs with his then {radio) "Goonshow" comrades, remembered now more for their names than the merits of the films.

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