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John Paddy Carstairs
A ship's captain is promoted by his company from tramp steamers to their flagship passenger liner. Although he is a thoroughly competent sailor ready to take charge of such a ship, he is less prepared for the social duties the new position involves, not least the way he becomes the target for all the comely unattached women on board. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
My 390th Review: Passable stock 50s comedy - but one that shows a change in British Cinema
Like many of its ilk Captain's Table looks like a very typical British 50s comedy and while good fun it's certainly no classic. It's very reminiscent of the Love Boat TV series with a cast of Britain's best it should shine - but it's all just for laughs. From a running jokes about Bridge players, to Donald Sinden's womaniser, it's all pretty much what you'd expect The women are the stronger characters here, and the plot is all about them trying to land the new captain. Fun but hardly original.
However, and it's a huge however, it is one of a handful of films that should be watched as being one of the better examples of the transition in British Cinema from social comedies to the more bawdy comedy of Carry On. You can actually see right up on screen the change coming and the difference between Genevieve, School For Scoundrels, Passport to Pimlico, and the Carry On films. The comedy is not Carry On saucy yet, but sex is a real theme throughout. No one foot on the floor cinema here. No coyness. There are bikinis everywhere and while not saucy it ain't coy either. Something happens in cinema around the Bikini Atoll, 1957, where the Big Bang suddenly does seem to liberate its own double entendre.
The whole of Captain's Table has characters that will become stock in the 1960s, a very camp batman, which Kenneth Williams will make his stock and trade, at the beginning of the film we have a seaman who could be Sid James, and throughout there are touches and ideas that Carry On will take and fly with.
If British Comedy from the 1950s is about class: either upper twits at play or working class succeeding despite authorities, then 1960s is about the triumph of the working man finding status and financial freedom. Captain's Table straddles both these with lots of upper-class twits (the Army Captain in particular) and a more blatant approach.
The film itself is lightweight fluff and fun because of it, but as a record of the changing point in British cinema it holds a place.
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