Even though I've been a fan of Stanley Holloway since young many moons ago this was the first time of seeing this particular film...as far I remember. Now forming part of the Ealing rarities collection it is decidedly obscure and probably not for the faint-hearted but I enjoyed it anyway.
A rather nattily-dressed brass band from the provincial Northern town of Heckdyke travel down to the Smoke to take part in a musical competition at the Crystal Palace. The band includes star euphonium player Sam "Pick oop tha musket" Small played by Holloway as ever, Alf "Albert's uncle" Ramsbottom played by Frank Atkinson and the bandmaster played by Hal Gordon and his eye-catching moustache. Sam's band leader cousin Betty is in love with the handsome and rich London lead with his rich nouveau-posh parents in tow and they all get ravelled up in a rather pathetic pearl robbery does it all turn out right in the end? Multi-talented Londoner Holloway is the main reason to see this, although it is pleasant to see and listen to a gaggle of old friends again and it is occasionally funny too. The Crystal Palace is briefly on display too whenever I've seen it I'm always amazed it lasted all the way to 1936 the gentle denizens of the locale probably would polish it off within a few hours if opening today. Holloway's lugubrious monologue on the Hampton Court Maze is the highlight and a riveting few minutes, and the peppy Betty Ann Davies sang Use Your Imagination leaving very little to the imagination. I was expecting to be traumatised by the Sweeney Todd song but although it's not nice it's main fault is it's just not funny. It's the kind of childishness The Comedians indulged in on primetime UK ITV for years in the 1970's. I refuse to accept that everyone in the past - and that means everyone's parents - were vicious racists, they were simply products of their time the same as us. If of a serious or sensitive disposition and you insist on listening to that section, apart from only having yourself to blame why not put it into context and like Sweeney Todd himself just say Next Please!?
The usual rules apply: comic Northerners and refined Londoners, quaintness and quality. So, this film has its moments of entertainment and intelligence but is utterly charming, inconsequential and forgettable.
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