I agree with richard-meredith27 - this is a lost gem. They released all of Palin's 'Ripping Yarns' on video & then DVD some time ago but this seems to have been passed over. Shame as it was BAFTA nominated in 1988. It was one of the first things I recorded on my brand spanking new VHS video recorder in 1987. I still have the tape somewhere.
I wasn't born in the 1950s but I certainly remember going to stay with my family at a musty old boarding house in Bournemouth in the late 1960s so it rings wonderfully true with me.
Edward Rawle-Hicks is superb as the repressed and frustrated Richard and John Wagland gives him good support as the 'worldly wise' bullshitter, Edwin, who befriends him. The class observations are so accurate of the period - Edwin's father appearing as a bit of a spiv and a ladies-man (he's come on holiday with his boys but HAS NO WIFE! The scandal!!) Whilst Richard is firmly lower middle-class: third-rate public school; father in middle management; smothered only child. The Hargreaves who ingratiate themselves are also lovingly detestable - nouveau riche, he's in the up-and-coming sportswear market and they're both rapaciously hungry social ladder-climbers.
The object of Richard's affection - Julia Horrobin (Oona Kirsch), is way out of his class league and thus all-the-more desirable, whilst her companion, the slutty Dutch girl, Anna (Pippa Hinchley), is the only character who actually knows what is going on & foresees the change that is just around the corner (this is pre-Beatles, remember). The trendy vicar (Roger Brierley) is also a sweet nod to this: "I hear there's a vicar in Eastbourne who does skiffle evensong!" "Well done to Team B. And they win - a bottle of lemonade!" Richard is played with such beautiful, knowing understatement that any male cannot fail to wince at the mind-numbing boredom and the appalling embarrassment he witnesses and endures, the intermittent cricket commentary providing a cheeky Greek Chorus to all of this.
The film is populated with many well-loved and experienced character actors who play (to a greater or lesser extent) perfectly observed grotesques of the period - notably Joan Sanderson who will forever be, to people of my generation, Miss Ewell from Please Sir! and the crotchety, deaf Mrs Richards in the Fawlty Towers episode "Communication Problems". She's outstanding, as always, but so is everyone else. It's an impressive ensemble, notably during the group cricket match: "Right, I'll give you one of me Specials!" I agree with others - this is not just a warm, gentle comedy, it's accurately observed social history.
And the killer line of the film is the last line spoken (young lads, remember this!), by Richard's Dad:
"All bodywork, those Rovers, no performance!"
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