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Naive Stanley Windrush returns from the war, his mind set on a successful career in business. Much to his own dismay, he soon finds he has to start from the bottom and work his way up, and also that the management as well as the trade union use him as a tool in their fight for power. Written by
`Nail-on-the-head' satire, very funny with a top class cast who's only weakness is it's slight anti-trade union feel
After the second world war is over, a new spirit of togetherness is fostered in the UK, and industry blossoms. Eager to get involved, the well-to-do Stanley Windrush tries to get a management job but fails. However some friends of the family, head of industry types get him a job with the workers at a missile factory. However his enthusiasm gets him in trouble with the all-powerful unions but is that what the bosses planned for all along?
First of all I cannot believe that this film has so few votes and comments (at time of writing this it's 270 and 5 respectively). I know this doesn't correlate with the number of users who have seen the film but it is a fair representation! I find that shocking, as this is one of the stronger satires I've seen for a good long while. The plot is a sort of comedy ploy by the bosses to shift work around to other firms (by relying on their own firm striking) and get personally rich as a result, however it is the satirical edge that makes it worth watching. Both bosses and unions get it in the neck here neither coming off well in the wash!
Bosses are seen as profit driven and not looking at the greater good, workers on the other hand are seen as looking after themselves while the unions cause more problems than they solve! There is an element of truth in all this that's why it is funny although it is obviously laid on a bit strong in the name of comedy. As a current worker in the UK manufacturing industry (yes, there is some left although it's an American company!) I am greatly amused by the caricatures as some elements (happily less each year) of them can still be seen in my place of employment! The management get off quite light as they are actually, at core, trying to improve the business's efficiency and thus compete with foreign firms. The workers and the unions get the hardest stick which is a little unfair after all the workers make the least and are the ones at risk, while the unions have brought about great steps in workers rights. For example it was funny for me to see FLT's moving around in heavily pedestrianised areas nowadays many larger factories will be totally segregated between vehicles and workers.
The plot does manage to mix the swipes so that it seems fair on the surface it is a pretty damning dig at British industry and, from modern views, it is quite prophetic as British industry has really fallen in the past few decades. The `one out, all out' strike mentality is well spoofed here but there's no doubting the damage that it (with other factors) has had. The only downside of the film looking back, is the racist views and racist language that is used at a couple of moments but in fairness these are not THAT offensive and can be overlooked as the culture of the film at the time.
Despite the quite anti-union feel to the film, Sellers does well to not overplay his character. The socialist worker type is really easy to get laughs off but Sellers brings out character and doesn't just go for an out and out mockery of the character. Carmichael is OK in the lead but is overshadowed by the sheer depth of excellent support roles. Le Mesurier's excellent, twitchy efficiency expert, Thomas' manager sweating and terrified of the workers he calls `an absolute shower' in the way only he can say it! Further faces fall into the film in the distinguished shapes of Attenborough, Rutherford and Price to name a few.
Overall this film comes out as a very classy satire. It hits the nail on the head and, over 40 years later, much of it can still be seen today and the damage from the stuff it satirises is being felt. The film is funny if you have a passing understanding of British industry in terms of politics, workers rights and unions even without this understanding the central plot is broad enough and funny enough to be worth seeing!
25 of 33 people found this review helpful.
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