Roman slave Lurkio inadvertently becomes the possessor of a scroll naming the proposed assassins of the Emperor Nero. Administering to the participants of his master's orgy guests seems ... See full summary »
Albert Steptoe and his son Harold are junk dealers, complete with horse and cart to tour the neighbourhood. They also live amicably together at the junk yard. But Harold, who likes the ... See full summary »
Harry H. Corbett,
The Carry On team send up the Tarzan tradition in great style. Lady Evelyn Bagley mounts an expedition to find her long-lost baby. Bill Boosey is the fearless hunter and guide. Prof. Tinkle... See full summary »
Accident-prone Fingers runs a pretty unsuccessful gang. They try and rob wealthy but tricky Billy Gordon - who distrusts banks and fears the Inland Revenue - but he sees Fingers and the ... See full summary »
Brenda de Banzie
Bus driver Stan Butler agrees to marry Suzy, much to the anguish of Mum, her son-in-law, Arthur, and daughter Olive. How, they wonder, will they ever manage without Stan's money coming in? Then Arthur is sacked, and Stan agrees to delay the wedding. Meanwhile, he hits on an idea: Arthur should learn to drive a bus. Somehow he does just that, and even gets a job. Stan then blackmails the Depot ... See full summary »
Stan gets a little annoyed when his Mum and Sister keep buying expensive items on hire purchase, but the money he earns for overtime working as a bus driver means that he can afford it... ... See full summary »
Albert Steptoe and his son Harold are junk dealers, complete with horse and cart to tour the neighbourhood. They also live amicably together at the junk yard. Always on the lookout for ways... See full summary »
Harry H. Corbett,
With a flu epidemic running rife, three new bumbling recruits are assigned to Inspector Mills police station. With help from Special Constable Gorse, they manage to totally wreck the ... See full summary »
In ancient Pompeii, slaves are bought and sold for household chores and sex. A mysterious queen moves among the elite, meantime secretly helping the slaves to escape. Eventually her life is... See full summary »
Roman slave Lurkio inadvertently becomes the possessor of a scroll naming the proposed assassins of the Emperor Nero. Administering to the participants of his master's orgy guests seems small compared to the trouble the scroll brings - but all are in for a nasty shock when Mount Vesuvius decides to erupt. Written by
[during the opening credits when Frankie Howerd is displayed in small letters]
Oh come on, bigger!
[the name gets bigger]
Don't be ashamed of it!
[now even bigger]
[the name is now very large, and most of it has disappeared]
Alright, don't go mad!
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I know I'm going against the tide with the above heading but it accurately sums up the movie and I will put forward arguments to explain why.
Many British sitcoms were transferred to the big screen in the 1970s. The main company involved was HAMMER (famous for producing cheesy yet top quality horror movies from the 1950s to the mid-1970s). The purpose behind such ventures was to keep high-profile British film companies alive in the face of fierce competition from American and Italian counterparts as far as horror productions go. Some transfers (i.e. ON THE BUSES, STEPTOE AND SON, RISING DAMP and PORRIDGE) were successful, mainly because the characters were kept in familiar settings and situations. Whilst others (GEORGE AND MILDRED, ARE YOU BEING SERVED?) are looked upon as complete disasters, mainly because the writers took the characters outside of their familiar settings for most of the movies.
The plots of "spin-off" movies from a British sitcom usually revolved around sending the familiar characters on holiday (these movies flopped or are widely considered disastrous) or keeping the characters in their main settings and using the medium of film to expand the scope of the humour. I think UP POMPEII actually falls outside these two categories.
Indeed, I believe the UP POMPEII movie brings the Lurcio character and the Pompeii setting to life in a way the TV series never could. Upon reading other comments about this movie, I've read complaints about the sets. Well, the sets on the TV series were far worse - they looked like cardboard (no exaggeration here!). Not even Frankie Howerd could distract me from the terrible sets of the TV series. At least the movie did attempt to build some convincing sets and I thought the producers did OK given the budget.
The TV series itself was very bland and relied entirely on the late great Frankie Howerd to carry the proceedings. The supporting actors in the TV series were simply not funny. I found the TV series unwatchable when Frankie was not on the screen.
In contrast, the movie helps Frankie by giving him first-rate talent to support him in the form of Bill Fraser, Julie Ege, Patrick Cargill, Barbara Murray, Madeleine Smith and Bernard Bresslaw. Special mention should be given to Michael Hordern, whose portrayal of Ludicrus Sextus is far superior than that played by Max Adrian in the TV series. But the best supporting actor in this movie by far is Lance Percival, who really comes into his own with the Captain Bilius character. The exchanges between him and Lurcio are hilarious and had me laughing so hard it hurt! The movie is a lot bawdier than the TV series but I actually think this is the way the franchise was meant to be anyway. It wasn't meant to be just puns, double-entendres and sexual innuendos alone (we had the CARRY ON movies, the ON THE BUSES series and numerous other places to look for that), it was meant to be all of those things but also done cheekier and more direct. With that in mind, I would say that the medium of film was the best way to present the aims of the UP POMPEII franchise.
As has been mentioned before, many of the jokes are very corny but the superb delivery by Frankie and his supporting cast make them laugh-out-loud hilarious. The slapstick elements were also telegraphed well in advance but again work due to the actors involved and some excellent one liners that followed each gag.
As others have pointed out on the comments page, Frankie Howerd built a long-lasting career on a very limited repertoire. Catchphrases such as "ooh ahh", "er missus", "titter ye not" and "it's wicked to mock the afflicted" were the main scope of his acts. Yet he did it so perfectly every time that he stayed for decades whilst other comedians came and went. Also unlike the work of other comedians, Frankie's comedy was not offensive in the least, instead being just harmless fun.
This movie contains what is perhaps Frankie Howerd's best performance outside his starring roles in CARRY ON DOCTOR and CARRY ON UP THE JUNGLE. I'd go as far as to say this was his singularly best performance, period!
So if you like British comedy and want something that surpasses the blandness of the TV series, check out this movie. It's bawdier than most forms of British comedy but still inoffensive harmless fun. Give it a try. You'll probably have a good time!
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