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Touch and Go, a light and airy comedy from Ealing Studios is probably not one of the legendary company's best known films. It doesn't seem to have been included in any of the British box sets that feature titles like The Titfield Thunderbolt or Passport to Pimlico. That fact notwithstanding, Touch and Go is unmistakably Ealing in its plot, pacing and execution. The story finds Jim Fletcher (Jack Hawkins) planning to emigrate to Australia after a row with his employer (James Hayter). As one might expect, the decision to move lock,stock and barrel to another continent is not without pitfalls. Jim's wife is less than enthusiastic about the move, and with two days to go before the trip, his daughter meets a young man. Like most Ealing films, Touch and Go features a quirky storyline, though admittedly not AS quirky as,say, Man in the white suit. The social polemic is here (20th century everyman takes a stand against bureaucracy)and the above par acting, right down to the casting of the extras seems absolutely right. Although by no means a great film, Touch and Go, in lovely Technicolor, eschews belly laughs for gentle comedy and does so with style and wit.
Like the previous reviewer I had never seen this film before until it was shown on London Live.It was made at a time when Australia was offering nine pounds assisted passages to people prepared to emigrate.This was an offer taken up by many people.This was long before TV programmes showed prospective emigrants what their new life would be like.Also in those days it seems to have been the husband who made important decisions unilaterally.Jack Hawkins plays the husband and it is so unusual to find him playing a role of this type.It is an amiable sort of film shot in a rather garish Eastman colour.This film came towards the end of Balcons reign at Ealing.
Today Sunday 2nd/August/2015 I saw an Ealing comedy I had never seen
before.I am 69 years old, a life long British resident and thought I
had seen most of the Ealing film comedies but never this one - "Touch
and Go" (1955) - it was a first.The commercial TV station "London Live"
is currently showing a season of BFI works of Ealing Films distributed
by the Rank Organisation.What a treasure trove the BFI must have in
their vaults! The late Jack Hawkins plays the head of design for a
furniture factory and has modern ideas for production.Unfortunately his
boss (James Hayter) is stuck in the past and dismisses Jack's modern
designs.Jack lives in Chelsea (his house would be worth millions now!)
with his wife, teenage daughter played by the tragically short lived
June Thorburn and their black cat Heathcliffe.After falling out with
his boss he feels a better career would be his in Australia and
proceeds to move there with his family.The cat however sets them a
problem because of quarantine laws in OZ.Taking the cat to a lady who
will look after it for a while June Thorburn loses it from its basket
on Chelsea Bridge and a young engineering student played by John Frazer
rescues it for June.Of course the inevitable romance ensues between
them putting Jack into a dilemma since the young man and his daughter
want to wed.Remember in 1955 there was still an acute housing shortage
after WWII and Jack after first blustering, calmly outlines the
practical problems for young people getting married.
I won't provide a spoiler and am surprised this film is not on a commercial vintage DVD.Suffice it to say all ends happily for all concerned as this is a gentle British comedy.London Live have lately been repeating showing of these Ealing films so watch out and you may catch it too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Opening scene: a man drinking a cup of the in a Haddon Hall cup. Undoubtedly it announces we are going to see a 100% British film with that characteristic Ealing bitter touch. This is an entertaining picture about a man who, having enough of a job where he is merely a furniture piece decides to quit to Australia with his family in search of a new life. But as the trip day approaches they feel less and less moody of leaving home... *Spoiler* Needless to say they will never leave England in the end...with the whole family consequent great joy. Connected with another Ealing 50's classic Another shore, the story of a family dream land will give a twist when they realize they do already live in it: their beloved England town. As in Jerome K Jerome's book the importance of the house pet is a key element in the story that has not much intrigue but results quite entertaining. Nice performances by the entire cast and an uncommon comedy role for Jack Hawkins. Enjoy it.
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