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When he is pulled up in court for selling stuff on the street, Horace Pope says he was only doing it while waiting to enlist. The judge calls his bluff and forces him to sign up. Pope makes friends with the easy going but loyal Pedlar Pascoe, who happily goes along with all of his scams in an effort to avoid the front lines and make a bit on the side. However, his scams cause trouble where he goes and there are only so many places he can go before France beckons. Written by
bob the moo
ON THE FIDDLE is a WW2-era comedy starring the long-forgotten Alfred Lynch as a spiv who finds himself enrolled in the army and sent to France to fight, against his best intentions. The problem is that Lynch is a bit of coward and a man who's more interested in making money through his black market dealings than actual fighting.
This quaint and genteel comedy has dated, particularly in comparison to the early black-and-white CARRY ON films which were coming out at the same time and which feel almost highbrow in comparison. The main problem for me is Lynch's character: he plays an arrogant and cocky so-and-so who's impossible to like and I ended up waiting for him to get his just desserts, but sadly that never happened. Some might call him irrepressible, I just call him irritating.
Still, fans of the era will find much to enjoy in the presence of a number of notable British names in the supporting cast. Not least of these is Sean Connery, second-billed and playing Lynch's army buddy. In the USA, the film was retitled OPERATION SNAFU and the poster figured Connery's name predominantly to cash in on his new-found fame as Bond (DR NO was his next film after this) but I'd argue that his performance in this, as the slow-witted but lovable rogue, is actually better than his Bond. Others may disagree.
Meanwhile, there's a full parade of familiar faces who usually pop up in one-scene roles. Watch out for Stanley Holloway, John Le Mesurier, Eric Barker, Victor Maddern, Patsy Rowlands, Bill Owen, Wilfrid Hyde-White and last but not least Barbara Windsor in one of her earliest screen roles. These actors - who feel like old friends to any fan of British cinema - certainly keep you watching and take your mind off the weak jokes and otherwise episodic feel of the storyline.
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