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 ...
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The Queen of England gives birth to twins. In order to protect the blood line one is kept and the other hidden in a pig sty and is raised to think it's mother is the pig. Lurkalot is the ... See full summary »
Frankie Howerd stars in this comedy as a lowly boot-boy who is a terrible coward. He only goes to war in 1914 after he has been hypnotised to 'save England'. With the German master plan ... See full summary »
Sid and Bernie keep having their amorous intentions snubbed by their girlfriends Joan and Anthea. The boys suggest a camping holiday, secretly intending to take them to a nudist camp. Of ... See full summary »
The popular Dr Kilmore is sacked after being discovered in a compromising position on the roof of the nurses' home. The patients are determined not to lose him, and so take on the might of ... See full summary »
Local councillor Sidney Fiddler persuades the Mayor to help improve the image of their rundown seaside town by holding a beauty contest. But formidable Councillor Prodworthy, head of the ... See full summary »
Three old men from Yorkshire who have never grown up face the trials of their fellow town citizens and everyday life and stay young by reminiscing about the days of their youth and attempting feats not common to the elderly.
This prison comedy is based on the popular British television series of the same name. Long time Slade prison inmate Fletcher is ordered by Grouty to arrange a football match between the ... See full summary »
Terry and Bob from The Likely Lads (1964) continue their life after Terry arrives home from serving in the Army to discover that Bob is about to marry his girlfriend Thelma. Can Thelma lead... 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
Lurcio claims to Bilius that he didn't read the incriminating scroll because he never learned to read, but he has no problem reading the ode written by Nausius. There is no reason to believe he is lying to Bilius, because at no point does Lurcio ever appear to try to read the scroll. If he had read the scroll earlier, it would have changed the whole plot. See more »
[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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