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London, 1940. Aspiring jazz musician and future comedy legend Terence "Spike" Milligan reluctantly obeys his call-up and joins the Royal Artillery regiment at Bexhill, where he begins training to take part in the War. But along the way Spike and his friends get involved in many amusing - and some not-so amusing - scrapes. Based on the first volume of Milligan's war memoirs. Written by
A slapdash MASH variation, that should have been funnier
I never heard of this film till I saw it's listing in the TV guide. I'm a big Jim Dale fan and love comedian Spike Milligan, so when I swa this movie was based on Spike Milligan's sidesplitting autobiography and that Jim Dale was plying Spike and the wonderfully demented Spike was playing his father I was looking foward to this film, but was very disapointed.
The film is about Spike being drafted into the army at the beginning of WWII and covered his basic training. There are some wonderful set pieces like Spike being conned into fighting a much bigger oppenant and when should have been a sidesplitting war games adventure, but the comic payoffs aren't there. It's like director Norman Cohen was influence by two then recent films, "MASH" and "Oh What A Lovely War", both anti war comic looks at war and what he should have done was a Carry On type of film.
The cast had a lot of potential too, We have Arthur Lowe of Dad's Army playing a similar role as the base Commander. There is also Bill Maynard as the sargent and fellow recruits Tony Selby and "Keeping Up Appearences" Onslow, Geoffrey Hughes but they don't do much with them Lowe who know's his character well comes off best of the supporting cast and Dale is wonderfully demented as Spike, but the film doesn't take off. It's just there, going from one situation to another with very little payoff. Like the potentilly funny scene where Spike and his sargent are being chased by a bull but find out that it's really a cow. The director let's on the joke from the beginning so when Spike and the sarge find out it's just not the belly laugh it should be. The direction and lackluster editing really let them down.
It is a pleasent hour and forty minute diversion, thanks to a fine cast, but what unfulfilled potential this film had.
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