Leslie Phillips plays a newly qualified vet with a heart of gold when it comes to animals. When he takes over an old practice he becomes rivals with his roguish fellow student (James Booth), foils a cruel horse meat racket with the help of an R.S.P.C.A. inspector (Hattie Jacques) and eventually finds romance with a glamorous nightclub performer (Peggy Cummins).
In the Doghouse is similar to many British comedies of the period, mainly relying on slapstick and a climactic comedy chase for laughs, with some mild, inoffensive smut thrown in for good measure. It's at it's best when the animals are on screen: a lion rampaging through a church fete and a runaway chimp (and Phillips) causing havoc in a ladies' sauna.
Phillips plays the lead very nicely, developing his character from the unlucky blunderer of the films earlier vet school scenes to become a kind-hearted and capable vet, which comes across well in his scenes with a lonely old lady and a little girl with a sick bird. His first day sees him turning away pet owners who want their animals put down for cruel and selfish reasons, but keeping the animals in his garage so he can find them new homes. These scenes are touching without being over sentimental, especially playing against Esma Cannon as the old lady, when he craftily helps her overcome the loss of her beloved dog with an unwanted puppy.
This is in contrast to James Booth as his rival, a womanising con-man who cheats during his vet school exam and is only in the profession to make money by scamming the rich and gullible pet owners who come to his fancy and ludicrously over-decorated practice. His accidental hypnotising of a poodle owner leads him into a partnership with her husband in setting up a racket illegally selling horses to France to be turned into meat.
It's irresistibly good natured with several good laughs, and although the pace occasionally flags slightly fans of British comedy tv and film can spot several familiar faces in small parts, including an uncredited Lance Percival as a bobby and Carry On regular Patsy Rowlands as a barmaid.
And how can anyone resist a chimp riding a bike?
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