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Ian Hendry plays Albert, a cheeky, womanising, door-to door salesman,
with a never-take-no-for-an-answer attitude, who lives his life for the
moment, and with no thought of his future, or the consequences of his
actions on the people he encounters.
Albert's patter, and his way with the ladies, is very reminiscent of Michael Caine's Alfie, made four years after Live Now Pay Later of course, a point not lost on Hendry later on his career, who often joked about life's irony that it was Alfie of course that went on to become a commercial hit, and made Caine an international star, whereas Hendry's film just got lost in B picture heaven!
Hendry also auditioned, and lost, against Caine for the part of Lt Bromhead in Zulu, but they finally got together on screen in 1971 in Get Carter!
It's not fair to compare Live Now Pay Later with Alfie, personally I like both films very much, but when you've seen both characters in full swing, you do see Hendry's point:)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ian Hendry shot to fame as the star of the first series of 'The
Avengers' in which he played crime busting 'Dr.David Keel', with
Patrick Macnee as his sidekick 'John Steed'. He then left to pursue a
career in film, leaving Macnee to assume star status in the show (
which became an international hit ).
Hendry made several films, of which 'Live Now - Pay Later' was one. In it, he played 'Albert Argyll', a door-to-door salesman for 'Callendar's Credit Stores'. Slick, quick-witted, irresistible to women, this man could sell anything to anybody. As a bonus, he gets to sleep with some of his customers. Indeed early on in the film one of them, called 'Treasure' ( June Ritchie ) turns up at the shop, demanding to see Albert. He has run out on her, leaving her to bring up a child born out of wedlock, as well making her responsible for a mass of bills. He is out on his rounds, so she vents her anger by wrecking the shop.
As the film progresses, her anger subsides and she and Albert once more become an item. When he is promoted to manager, he takes her to the shop and they fool around using the goods ( Albert does a stunningly brilliant 'Charlie Chaplin' impression at one point ). But he bites off more than he chew, and his boss Mr.Callendar ( John Gregson ) demotes him back to salesman.
Treasure goes off Albert too, leaving him alone once more. But is he downhearted? Is he heck? As the movie ends, he once is out and about ( he has a habit of jumping out of his van while it is still moving ) and working his charm on a new customer, called Coral ( Justine Lord ).
Another reviewer has rightly commented on the similarity between Hendry's 'Albert' and Michael Caine's 'Alfie'. I have always believed that Hendry deserved greater success than he ultimately got - he should have been up there with Oliver Reed and Richard Harris and Stanley Baker as a major international star. He had the talent. He just never found the right role ( like Reed and Harris he also had a terrible drink problem. My late father-in-law once told me Hendry came into his local pub one afternoon, and stood a round ), becoming instead a supporting star, albeit a good one, appearing in 'The Hill' ( opposite Sean Connery ), 'Get Carter' ( opposite Michael Caine ), 'The Internecine Project' ( opposite James Coburn ) and my favourite Vincent Price picture - 'Theatre Of Blood'. In all these films he was marvellous.
June Ritchie, who plays 'Treasure', holds the distinction of being the first topless woman in a major British film - John Schlesinger's 'A Kind Of Loving', also made in 1962. She was also the second topless woman in a major British film, as she takes a bath in Albert's flat. She too was tipped for stardom, which never materialised.
All British films of these period seemed to have wonderful supporting casts, and this one is no exception - Nyree Dawn Porter, Geoffrey Keen, Peter Butterworth, Bridget Armstrong, Jeannette Sterke, and an early sighting of Peter Bowles.
Particularly impressive is Liz Fraser as 'Joyce Corby', wife of an ambitious Councillor. She is up to her neck in debt and when the bailiffs come knocking, flees from the house in terror - only to get knocked down and killed. For anyone accustomed to her bubbly roles in the 'Carry On' series, it is quite shocking stuff.
Writer Jack Trevor Story and Jay Lewis had earlier collaborated on a dire wartime comedy starring Bill Travers and Spike Milligan called 'Invasion Quartet', so it makes this film's quality all the more surprising. Lewis only made one more film after this - the silent comedy 'A Home Of Your Own' with Ronnie Barker - before his death in 1969.
So this works both as a cautionary tale of the dangers of getting heavily into debt, and a comedy with charming acting from the leads. It really deserves an official D.V.D. release.
One evening many years ago i went into the long vanished Prince Albert pub in Golders Green Road.There swaying unsteadily was Ian Hendry looking very much the worse for wear and obviously drunk,offering to serve me.His career by that time was on the way down the drain to a great extent because of this drinking habit.Such a shame as he clearly had a lot of talent as shown by this film.What his career might have amounted to if he had been given some of the parts he was turned down for is now just conjecture.This is a very enjoyable film with lots of sparkling performances from familiar faces.With regard to the topless bath scene i wonder whether the version circulating was the continental version.Film directors would usually shoot 2 versions of such scenes.One more chaste for the British censor to approve,without any nudity,and one for the continent where it could all hang out !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ian Hendry stars as Albert Argyll, a door to door salesman with the gift of the gab not only able to sell goods that people don't need to people who don't need them on hire purchase but also bed every woman, married or unmarried, who makes his acquaintance. Do we envy him well no, not really because he can't sustain the one relationship he would most like to: that with steady girlfriend Treasure (June Ritchie). June Ritchie is one of those sad assets of film a page three girl born thirty years too soon - (alternatively, was The Sun's page three 30 years too late?) June appears here topless in her morning bathtub in the squat she shares with boyfriend Hendry a steamy scene because of the hot water which should have been steamier but couldn't be as the result would have been hot water for the distributors let's not forget this old corker of a film came out in 1962. A good sub-plot involves the magnificent Geoffrey Keen an actor so good he's totally believable in any role - be it sympathetic, hardnosed or irascible and wife Liz Fraser (what price to have seen her topless?) in a horrific marriage of inconvenience played out for her financial security and his social kudos ending in her panic induced death. John Gregson's over indulgent toupee rather lets the side down. Watch this film and witness guilt-free chain smoking from a time when it was still a pastime not a life threatening habit but just think only 11 years after this film was released all UK cigarette packets would carry health warnings. It's almost impossible this has never been released on VHS or DVD. It was last broadcast in 1996 on Channel 4 in the UK and if you'd like a copy 100 minutes long contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me on 07949 792 498.
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