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Ostensibly "Bless This House" is a cinema spin-off from a hit
television sitcom, and a rapid one at that. But it can also be treated
as a continuation of the "Carry On" film series, by far the most
successful comedies in British screen history.
That cycle, already over 20 years old, was near exhaustion: too many of its repertory company were looking and feeling their years to remain funny in saucily physical capers. "Bless This House" guides them into middle aged domesticity without forfeiting all the "Carry On" spirit of mischief and misrule.
Behind the camera, the producer, director and composer were "Carry On" veterans too, though screenplay duties passed from the incomparably lewd Talbot Rothwell to Dave Freeman. The TV concept is intact: Sid James, too long in the tooth to chase girls, is now a modestly prosperous semi-detached suburban salesman. His taste for football and booze is constrained by his duties to a wife who wants more independence, a disheveled art student son and a naive schoolgirl daughter. The arrival of a stuffy next-door neighbour gives Sid more headaches, but after mild pratfalls and back chat, all ends well at the altar. "Animal House" it isn't.
James, now pipe smoking and cardigan, retains the most suggestive laugh on screen. Diana Coupland, a band singer turned actress, is a nicely supportive, sometimes indignant foil. As the simian son, Robin Askwith gives his buttocks less of a rhythmical workout than in the contemporary "Confessions" films. Sally Geeson, sister of Judy, squeaks and flaps as the idealistic daughter.
A ripe selection of character comedians surrounds the family, led by Terry Scott and June Whitfield as the new neighbors. They almost make the production a spin-off of their long-running marital sitcom as well, albeit Scott's film character is more pompous.
Allusions to hippiedom, Women's Lib and ecological doom-mongering (Geeson devours an Ehrlich-like tract called "Mankind is Doomed" and leads the Junior Anti-Pollution League) place the film firmly in the glamrock Seventies, but its core is pretty timeless domestic humour. Sid looks weary and too much under the cosh of domesticity at times, but his timing and delivery are crisp as ever. The move from TV allows more expansive slapstick and quicker storytelling; the spirit of the original, which ran till James's death four years later, is preserved.
Like the "Carry Ons", these sitcom spin-offs were critically derided when released. They look far better now. "Porridge" and "Dad's Army" are the cream; as on television, "Bless This House" is not in their league, but it remains a mildly funny and endearing time killer 30 years on, like "On the Buses" and "For the Love of Ada". It seemed this domestic kind of sitcom had been banished for ever by the pseudo-sophisticates and neophilias who run British television, but the success of BBC1's "My Family" (created by an American abroad) echoes the Abbotts in their tree-lined ITV avenue.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Bless This House', created by Vince Powell and Harry Driver, was
launched in 1971 and quickly established itself as one of I.T.V.'s
biggest-ever sitcom successes. A year later, a spin-off feature film
hit cinemas, following the route taken by 'Till Death Us Do Part' and
'On The Buses'. With Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas in charge, it was
bound to wind up looking like a 'Carry On', and did. The first and most
sensible thing they did was replace boring Robin Stewart with cheeky
Robin Askwith as Sid's son 'Mike'. Secondly, they brought in Peter
Butterworth to play Sid's friend and next-door neighbour 'Trevor
Lewis'. While I liked Anthony Jackson's 'Trevor', Butterworth and Sid
are a far more natural comedy team. Thirdly, they had Terry Scott and
June Whitfield as the Abbott's new neighbours, 'Ronald' and 'Vera
Baines'. Scott's character is not the lovable 'Terry' of 'Happy Ever
After/Terry & June', but a pompous snob. These changes benefited the
movie enormously, though I wish the Geoff Love theme tune had been
retained. Eric Rogers provided the new music.
Dave Freeman's script lacks a central binding plot, consisting mainly of sub-plots such as Mike bringing home a right banger of a car, Jean and Betty running an old junk stall in a local market, Sid's attempts to make wine in a home-made distillery in his shed, Mike getting a job in a fast-food restaurant ( where he meets and falls in love with 'Kate', played by Carol Hawkins of 'The Fenn Street Gang' ), Sid and Jean attempting to conceal the damage they have made to the Baines' lounge whilst attempting to remove an over-mantle, and Sid and Ronald engaging in open warfare of the 'Love Thy Neighbour' sort. Interesting to hear 'Sally' ( Sally Geeson ) expressing concerns for the environment. We could laugh at her in those days. She was dead right though, wasn't she? And she looks great in a bikini!
Some sterling performers in small roles, including George A.Cooper as the owner of the restaurant where Mike works, Bill Maynard as the market owner who has a roving eye, Wendy Richard as a waitress, Johnny Briggs as a lorry driver, Janet Brown ( who was Peter Butterworth's wife ) as their soon-to-leave neighbour, with Julian Orchard as her husband.
Funniest moment - Sid and Ronald turning up late at the church for Mike and Kate's wedding in a fire engine!
Some reviewers have said the film is a useful time capsule of '70's Britain. It is not - Britain was never this nice a place to live. It hardly matters though. 'House' is a pleasant way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The British TV Sitcoms of the seventies almost all had one thing in common: an inability to forecast changes in fashion and youth culture, and an instantly dated quality that created instant classics. Advice to all non-British surfers - catch this movie, it will give a better insight into life in the UK in the seventies than any more reputable source. Along with On The Buses, Porrige, and others, this movie stands out for great performances by Sid James (catch any Carry On.... movie he's in) , Diana Coupland, Sally Geeson and Robin Askwith as the disfunctional family that started it all!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The received wisdom is that movie spin-offs from British TV sitcoms are cheap,trashy,low-budget no-brainers and of course it's absolutely true and that's exactly why we love them."Bless this House" wasn't High Art on TV and certainly hasn't "improved" for the big screen,but by golly it's very funny,surely the raison d'etre for all comedy? That much-missed great artist Mr Sidney James is as comfy as an old slipper in the role of good-natured paterfamilias,there is no one even approaching his brilliance on TV or the movies today.One look of exasperation from that wonderfully expressive face would set whole audiences happily snuggling deep into their seats,waiting for the wry grin and the much-loved laugh that was sure to follow. Miss Diana Coupland,who used to be what was referred to as a "chick" or a "chirper" i.e. a singer with touring Dance Bands in the 1950s plays his tolerant and loving wife,who,as in every sitcom,really wears the trousers. The jokes,new and old,mostly,I must confess,old,come thick and fast,delivered with some style by a cast as to the manner born. Nothing "fringe" or "edgy" about this stuff,no one sat for hours trying to write stuff that would entrance Guardian readers but alienate the 99.999% of the rest of us,but lovingly crafted sketches of suburban life by writers aiming at an audience of people who owned Cortinas and Allegros and smoked over a newspaper at breakfast. Sneer at their naivety at your peril.
Those where the days, they say, and Don 't we Know this, as seen in this movie, I quite liked that old Morris Minor open top car Mike said " this car has been to around the world and back" to Kate I ask myself, How did mike pull a stunner like her?? after all, Kate 's Father said, " that boy 's not all there" I also liked the plastering of the walls disaster! I also loved the custard pie flinging bit, after all, that boss started it!! I also liked Sally Abbot and I liked that poor shed, it only lasted for a short time! I would not of drunk that Brandy mind!! I also liked that Panamar Hat being shredded in that Atco Mower!! All and All Good British comedy they do not make them like that anymore!!
1970's British light comedy based on a popular TV series.
It's soft, warming, harmless wallpaper. There's a lack of imagination about the whole thing - but it's gentle and inoffensive. The cast, including the minor roles, such as the waitress played by Wendy Richards, are familiar British situation comedy actors. It's that cosy familiarity that is the making or breaking of the piece. Making a film based on a TV series is rarely a good idea. What may be a pleasant half-hour spent at home while chatting to friends and family, can become stretched and dull over three times that length. There are plenty of better ways of passing the time than watching this damp squid.
First things first. This is not a good film. It is a very bad film. It is a
complete waste of celluloid.
But to see it is to love it. I can offer no justifications but everyone has films that they know are awful but like anyway. This is one of mine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With 'Bless This House' proving a hit on ITV, it was inevitable that a
feature film spin-off would eventually appear. This 1972 film was
written by Dave Freeman and produced by Gerald Thomas, both of which
worked with Sid James on the 'Carry On' films. With those credits, it
is perhaps unsurprising that 'Bless This House' turned out like one of
Gerald Thomas' seaside romps. Not especially a bad thing but all the
same it contradicts the television counterpart, which was a family
Most of the cast are present and correct. Diana Coupland reprises her role as Sid's wife Jean, as do Sally Geeson as Sid and Jean's scatty daughter Sally and Patsy Rowlands as their nagging neighbour Betty. Peter Butterworth replaces Anthony Jackson as Trevor while Robin Askwith replaces Robin Stewart as Sid and Jean's hippie like son Mike. Terry Scott and June Whitfield play Sid and Jean's new neighbours, Ronald and Vera Baines. Unlike Terry from 'Happy Ever After' and 'Terry & June', Baines is an unlikeable, toffee-nosed twit who takes great delight in winding up Sid.
The film, while not bad, is slightly messy. There is no real plot as such. Mike buys a scrap-pile of a car which doesn't even have the road credibility of a lawn mower, Sally attempts to fight against those who pollute the planet, Jean and Betty attempt to set up a jumble sale stall to sell junk given to them by their neighbours, Sid tries to repair damage he made to his neighbours house by trying to remove a hideous over-mantle.
The main part of the movie focuses on Mike's relationship with Kate, the Baines' beautiful daughter who ends up getting a job at the same café where Mike is working.
The supporting cast is made up of the likes of Tommy Godfrey, Wendy Richard, George A. Cooper, Janet Brown, Julian Orchard and Frank Thornton. Carol Hawkins plays Kate, who during the '70's was one of the hottest women on the small and big screen. Robin Askwith at this time was to be seen starring in the saucy 'Confessions' movies.
The year after this film went on television, 'Bless This House' was back on television for another series, with Robin Stewart and Anthony Jackson reprising their respective roles. 'Bless This House' at its best was good, saucy, unassuming fun which helps wile away a pleasant hour and a half, though as I pretty much covered before, it is in an entirely different league to the series.
Funniest moment - the 'panama hat' fiasco! I can't do it justice here, but it is a hilarious scene and it cracks me up each time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a movie spin off of the popular series from the 70's. I recently bought the series and the movie because of Sid James. He has always been one of my favorite actors since I saw him in the Carry On's. Peter Butterworth and Terry Scott show up to help this movie. I was never of fan of Sid's wife or his son(played by an ugly replacement). Sally Geeson is usually good as the daughter, but in this movie she constantly complains about pollution and how the world is doomed. Sad that these scare tactics has been going on for 30 years now. The doom and gloom crowd led by Al Gore would be proud. Thanks to Peter Rodgers, Sally Geeson has a really nice scene in a blue bikini. It's the highlight of the movie along with Sid's scenes. Just like the Carry On's, Sally's body is on display. She has some really nice close up's in her bikini. She also can be viewed in states of undress in Carry on Abroad and What's Good for the Goose. Anyway, this is a pretty good film if you can get by the pollution crap and Sid James is always worth watching. So is Sally Geeson in a bikini.
I came to this film as somebody who'd never watched an episode of the
television series of which it's a spin off and I went away having
enjoyed it. It's no classic, for sure, but it does prove to be a pacey,
gag-packed and charming way to spend an hour and a half.
The film is, in essence, a time capsule of the early 1960s, with all the outrageous fashions you could wish for. Sid James plays himself as an irascible family man, forever at the mercy of his nagging wife, cute daughter Sally (sister of Judy) Geeson and cheeky son Robin Askwith (CONFESSIONS OF A WINDOW CLEANER).
The loose plot sees popular comedy tag-team, Terry Scott and June Whitfield, moving in next door at which point all manner of over-the-garden-fence hijinks occur. There aren't really any stand-out gags to mention, but most of the cast are quite charming and there's plenty of mileage in the illegal-distillery antics in the garden shed.
With Gerald Thomas directing and Peter Rogers producing (not to mention Sid James starring) this feels very much like a late CARRY ON film, and it has an easygoing edge over some of the lacklustre entries in that series. Enjoyment also comes from nostalgia of the era, and in the excellent supporting cast (including Bill Maynard, Peter Butterworth, Patsy Rowlands, Marianne Stone and Frank Thornton).
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