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Having pulled off the smallest ever train robbery, Little Walter and his crew decide to get out of London. The six of them set up business in a disused monastery off the Cornish coast, despite the fact that none of them really qualifies as a monk - least of all Walter's moll Bikini. Bit by bit, the quiet way of life starts becoming a habit. Written by
CROOKS IN CLOISTERS is one of the weaker British comedy films I've watched. Made in 1964 and shot in colour on what looks to be a serviceable budget, the storyline sees a gang of robbers who escape the long arm of the law by travelling to a remote monastery on an island off the coast of Cornwall. There they must masquerade as monks while attempting to evade the notice of the authorities lest their true identities be revealed.
It's an acceptable enough storyline but it has to be said that the jokes are very tame here and almost unnoticeable for the most part. The character-focused shenanigans are almost entirely of the "fish out of water" variety as these friendly rogues must get used to farmyard animals, cooking, cleaning, and working in the vegetable patch. There are very few belly laughs and as a whole the comedy is weaker than a contemporary feature like CARRY ON JACK.
What CROOKS IN CLOISTERS does have going for it is an exemplary cast of comic faces. Ronald Fraser headlines the cast as the gang leader desperately trying to keep everything together, while Melvyn Hayes is the moonstruck youngster. Barbara Windsor, as the token female member of the crew, is as grating as ever, while Bernard Cribbins spends almost his entire running time getting to grips with a pesky goat. Watch out for an unrecognisably young Francesca Annis as a love interest, Corin Redgrave as a senior monk, and Wilfrid Brambell as a local chap who becomes involved in the shenigans and becomes a valuable ally.
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