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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Two friends get drunk and decide to switch identities. One is a Parliamentary Secretary, and the other is the captain of a ship. The former's lack of sea knowledge causes several catastrophes, including torpedoing the First Lord of The Admiralty. Written by
Amusing with a light touch but lacking any good laughs or inspired material
Two men arrive in a port town on the same day, coincidentally both men are old friends and get together for an evening drink. Peter Fraser is in town to take over the captaincy of a British battleship, while Tom Baker is a civilian private-secretary with the Admiralty who has no naval experience at all. Discussing their different roles, one drink turns to another and soon the pair are very much the worse for wear. In the drunken mêlée, the two men end up switching clothes and rooms and wake up in a drunken stupor. Baker is awoken by some of his Fraser's officers, who have never met him and mistake Baker for their new captain. With both men stuck in their new roles, they try to keep afloat long enough to swap places again.
Relying on the sort of contrived comic scenario that many silly British comedies have at their core, this film lacks any sense of logic but this shouldn't bother anyone that much because we (the audience) should be laughing enough to not notice. However this film isn't that funny at all and it just about manages to produce an air of amusement that will perhaps please those looking to fill a Sunday afternoon matinée slot when it is raining outside. There are various confusions and mistaken identities of course and, although the film is energetic, it never made me laugh once, which is a bit of a problem for a comedy. The direction by Guest is so-so and his delivery helps the comic air but the lack of good material is where it falls down.
The cast try their best but aren't that great. Reece isn't that good a lead, although the better turn comes from Tomlinson, who is comic despite the material. Cummins is a bland actress on this evidence but she does the job for the genre. Smaller roles tend to be better with nice performances from Matthews, Beckwith and Shiner to name a couple. Although not a Carry On film (they started a few years after this was made) viewers will recognise a young Joan Sims in a small role.
Overall an amusing little film that has a light touch from cast and director but doesn't have the material to make it that funny. Those looking for something undemanding, nostalgic and easy to watch may find it fills a wet afternoon but other than that I doubt it will win over too many casual viewers.
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