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Very Important Person
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Reviews & Ratings for
A Coming-Out Party More at IMDbPro »Very Important Person (original title)

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A little gem.

7/10
Author: cjcampbell37 from United Kingdom
1 February 2007

This comedy-thriller gives an unexpectedly authentic look to a German prisoner of war camp, suggesting a practical knowledge of the subject from some of those involved in the making of the film.

I remember seeing this film on TV as a kid, and enjoying it immensely. Recently, it cropped up on UK's Channel Four, and it was still just as entertaining and oddly touching.

James Robertson Justice gives a great performance as the grouchy, but underneath it all, sensitive boffin, and it's a real treat to see the young Eric Sykes, Stanley Baxter and Leslie Phillips all relishing their work. Wonderful support also in the always solid and dependable forms of John Le Mesurier and Richard Watiss. Many other familiar faces from films of the era add to the overall success of this movie. A very British little gem of a movie.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Lighthearted British Comedy

7/10
Author: JOHN_REID from Gold Coast
14 June 2007

Very Important Person combines elements of the Carry On films, The Great Escape and Hogan's Heroes to produce a lighthearted low budget British Comedy that is surprisingly effective. Many of the stalwarts from this era are here with John Le Mesurier, Stanley Baxter, Eric Sykes in supporting roles. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see Sid James turning up somewhere.

James Roberson Justice is excellent in his role as the cantankerous Very Important Person. There are lots of stiff upper lips and "tickety boos" from the British and the German officers are typically cast as foolish buffoons. This must have all been an inspiration for Hogan's Heroes but a very long way from the reality of prisoner of war camps.

Overall, VIP is a fine example of British Comedy from the 60s and is well worth a look.

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Light-hearted comedy-drama, with excellent cast

6/10
Author: Libretio
11 March 2005

VERY IMPORTANT PERSON

(USA: Coming-Out Party)

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Sound format: Mono

(Black and white)

Internees at a German POW camp plot the escape of a high-ranking British scientist (James Robertson Justice) who has fallen into enemy hands.

Entertaining mixture of comedy and drama, directed with cut-throat efficiency by Ken Annakin (later responsible for blockbusters like BATTLE OF THE BULGE and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG), and headlined by some of the most popular names in contemporary British cinema, including Leslie Phillips and Jeremy Lloyd as upper-class comic relief, and Stanley Baxter playing dual roles as a temperamental Scottish prisoner and an unpleasant Nazi officer (when the German calls him a 'British swine', Baxter retorts with haughty pride: "SCOTTISH swine!"). Robertson is at his most gruff and lovable here, initially appalled by the company he's forced to keep in the POW camp, then quietly appreciative of the lengths these 'idiots' will go to secure his safety. The tone is pretty low-key, which means the film isn't always as funny or as suspenseful as it could have been, but it's a hugely enjoyable treat nonetheless. Eric Sykes, Richard Wattis and John Le Mesurier are featured in supporting roles.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Funny film about an unpopular POW trying to escape.

8/10
Author: Stephen Stratford (stephen.stratford@btinternet.com)
13 December 1999

A funny film which has maintained its humour since being made in 1961. James Robertson Justice is excellent as an morose and unfriendly POW who must be helped to escape back to England. Well made and with some excellent exchanges between James Robertson and the other POWs.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A last quality British comedy before the rise of Oxbridge.

7/10
Author: ianlouisiana from United Kingdom
2 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although Stanley Baxter was principally known as an impressionist he was more versatile than the run-of-the-mill mimic.He had the actor's ability to assume a full personality rather than merely copy a voice or a look.In "Very Important Person" he plays a Scottish POW and his German captor,the latter role being perhaps the more challenging. Since the early 1950s there had been a whole sub-genre of war films featuring resourceful Brit POWs outwitting the plodding German prison guards and making plucky attempts at freedom.At one time there were so many chirpy cockneys digging tunnels that there were hardly enough left to stoke the boilers or peel the spuds. Normally the Germans were amazingly sanguine about it all,being sportsmen,but when the decidedly unsporting SS became involved things rapidly changed ."The Great Escape" marked the end of the "POW as naughty schoolboy" cycle of movies with its cold-blooded slaughter of dozens of unarmed British officers.That this film is a Christmas perennial says something rather disturbing about the British psyche - or the BBC.Rather daringly the Escape comedy was revived a few years later by American TV with "Hogan's Heroes". In 1961 we were just about on the cusp.Our boys were not having it all their own way - the Germans were clamping down - no more Herr Nice Guy. So when the wonderful James Robertson Justice is shot down and imprisoned under a false identity effecting his escape is going to require a bit of thought. Fortunately the Escape Committee,comprising a comforting number of British actors with experience in other POW movies is able to get him out so he can get on with his hush-hush war work back in Blighty. That is the bare bones of the plot,but the pleasures in "Very Important Person" are in the writing and the performances.It dates from the time when British movies were still made with craft and care and the audience able to recognise intelligence and wit in a screenplay without a laughtrack to tell them.Nobody thought they were making "Citizen Kane",but they took pride in what they were doing and the finished product is joined-up comedy film-making. 1960 saw the birth of the British Satire Movement - "Private Eye" began its existence,"Beyond the Fringe" opened in Edinburgh and soon the floodgates would open to a tide of Oxbridge men and women queueing up to be very rude to politicians and Royalty and be very handsomely paid for doing it - well it was more fun than working in a Merchant Bank I suppose.In some respects "Very Important Person " is a last hurrah for quality British comedy before OUDS or "Footlights" got their clever-clever cold-hearted hands on it. It was funny in 1961 and it is funny today.Far funnier than some onanist in a college scarf imitating Harold Macmillan.I think it's fair to say that Messrs Justice,Baxter,le Mesurier et al will be remembered with far more affection long after all the satirists have gone to that big JCR in the sky.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Tickety-boo

8/10
Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
26 May 2007

Avoid the book of the same name clumsily written by John Foley if you ever see it, based on the film's screenplay by Jack Davies. The main thing here is that the film was a showcase for the mammoth personality of James Robertson Justice, it would be virtually nothing with someone else in his role of frosty crusty portly professor. The book is nothing without him; get the DVD.

In WW2 acidic high-up professor (JRJ) has to get into Nazi-occupied Europe to try out some scientific experiment but gets captured and sent to a POW camp in Germany to his disgust. Then he has to get out again with the help of his room-mates who eventually discover just how important he is – to Winnie in London at least. A lot of old British actors were paraded here, but particularly manic Stanley Baxter (x2), lascivious Leslie Phillips and poncey Jeremy Lloyd, all making for a comfortable familiar ride. JRJ surpassed himself, evincing stoical but disdainful contempt for everyone British or German and his surroundings, barking orders to all lesser mortals and generally displaying an organisational brainpower not usually found this side of Mount Olympus. Favourite bits: Phillips immortal impatient leg-crossed line when JRJ as a Red Cross Inspector is imperturbably wasting time in front of the German guards; and almost everything JRJ uttered during the film.

All in all, a typical British comedy from the time but turned into something special by a tour-de-force performance, and one I've seen umpteen times since the late '60's. What an original the man was – to me indeed, a Very Important Person.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly effective POW comedy/drama

7/10
Author: mp47 from United Kingdom
28 October 2005

I've seen a few James Robertson Justice/Leslie Phillips/Stanley Baxter films recently (thanks, Amazon Rental!), such as THE FAST LADY and FATHER CAME TOO, and compared with such absurd and dated fluff this works well. The 'This is Your Life' framing device is simple but neat; Annakin keeps thing moving, without allowing any of his cast to go over the top, even James R-J's role has more depth and less bluster than usual; various comedy stalwarts (Eric Sykes, Richard Wattis, John Le Mesurier) do their thing in ways that make sense in plot terms; Baxter's dual role is brilliantly handled, with tiny adjustments in gait and expression making it quite clear which is which when they appear in the same scenes. Even Leslie Phillips (with the possible exception of Kenneth Connor the most annoying of all the British comic actors of the 50s & 60s) brings something to the party this time. In some ways it stands up better than 'serious' POW stuff like THE WOODEN HORSE.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It's the crackpot Great Escape.

7/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
20 June 2009

Sir Ernest Pease is sucked out of an aeroplane and captured by the Germans, and promptly interred at a POW camp. Naturally he refuses to give the Germans any information, and carrying his surly approach into his bunking quarters doesn't endear him to his fellow prisoners. But word comes thru from the hierarchy that Pease is so important on account of his scientific knowledge, he must escape at all costs. Thus this odd group of people must unite to get the old curmudgeon free.

Written by the men behind some of Norman Wisdom's most well known offerings {Henry Blyth & Jack Davies} and starring such British comedy luminaries like James Robertson Justice, Leslie "Hello" Phillips, Stanley Baxter, John Le Mesurier and Eric Sykes. Well it isn't rocket science to work out what type of film you are in for. Competently made at Beaconsfield Studio for Independent Artists,Very Important Person is practically a goofy version of the Great Escape {made two years later I hasten to add}. The Germans are of course portrayed as clueless dunderheads, and the British prisoners get by with a stiff upper lip and using humour as ultra sharp defence mechanisms.

So nothing new here for those that have sat thru many a 50s and 60s British war comedy, but the cast and writing is so engaging it's easy to forgive the familiarity of it all. Carried easily by the broad presence of James R Justice as Pease {fans of the Doctor franchise will love him here}, it's a film that knows it's a simple piece. It exists purely to induce a giggle, maybe even stir a bit of pride, and with its ending-actually has something to say as regards its main character. It's real light stuff that isn't the least bit dramatic {as some on line reviewers have suggested}, kind of like like a light wafer biscuit, you know it's a snack and that's really all you need to make you temporarily fulfilled. 6.5/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

478th Review: James Robertson Justice: curmudgeon at its best

7/10
Author: intelearts from the big screen
11 January 2012

Very Important Person is a well-written, and enjoyable British comedy that really belongs with other classic 1950s films. 1935 - 1962s British Comedies are my absolutely favourite genre as they hold their charm and wit even now and Very Important Person has a great deal of the essentially British humour in tough straights.

The plot of the genius scientist - JRJ - who ends up in a POW camp and must escape at all costs is a good vehicle to hang some nice character acting from Stanley Baxter and let Leslie Philips do his bounder at play act.

There are a ton of recognisable faces from John Le Mesurier to Eric Sykes, and the terrific part actor Richard Wattis, who everyone in Britain would recognise but few can name, all making the time fly by to perfection.

Above all, there's James Robertson Justice. Justice ironically nearly always played characters that looked and sounded true Tory but was the child of two of Britain's better Socialists (They did a lot in educational reform). He, himself, stood for parliament in Scotland as a Labour MP. Thank goodness he lost! His curmudgeon, which he had already perfected as Sir Lancelott Spratt in the Doctor series, is at its best here; he takes rude to a comic art form - and we love him for it.

Ken Annakin directs, and given that his list include Battle of the Bulge and Those Magnificent Men in their FLying Machines and Monte Carlo or Bust you know you're in excellent hands.

All in all, this is very reminiscent in style to The Wooden Horse but with laughs, a classic of its style and one that will still bring a wry smile to the face.

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0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Not bad, but not exactly a comedy.

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
3 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While this film offers some mildly (very mildly) humorous scenes, I would not characterize it as a comedy--more like a drama with comedic overtones. This isn't a complaint--I just don't want to viewer to expect too much from this film.

It starts off in the present day. James Robertson Justice's character is being honored on the British version of "You Bet Your Life" and this leads to a flashback that comprises most of the rest of the film.

Apparently, Justice was a big-shot during WWII. During a special mission over German territory, he is accidentally sucked out of a gaping hole blown into the Halifax bomber. And, not surprisingly, he's placed in a POW camp filled with British soldiers. However, he's so important that word makes it to the prisoners that he MUST escape at all costs. In the meantime, Justice is incredibly brusque and dismissive of everyone. It's obvious he hates everyone--showing no respect or willingness to socialize with anyone--British or even German. So, the prisoners are forced to help someone no one really likes--nor should they like him! Much of the film the viewer ponders whether Justice's character is truly hateful or if it's all an act, of sorts. See it and then you decide for yourself. It's an enjoyable little film--nothing great, but well done....and Justice is very good as usual.

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