Love Thy Neighbour (1973)
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After a curious scene at the beginning in which we see a spate of black and white neighbours fighting with each other ( brought on by a fight Eddie and Bill were having ), we are on to the main part of the movie. Joan and Barbie enter a competition held by 'The Gazette' to find the best neighbours, the prize being a luxury Medditeranian cruise. Will Eddie and Bill be able to keep up the pretence of being good friends or will they be rumbled?
A plot from a series one episode in which Eddie and Bill pretend to be on union business whereas really they are going to meet two girls is given a makeover here - instead they go off to see a stripper only later to be caught by Joan and Barbie. Another part ( taken from episode one, series one ) saw Bill posing as an African native ( along with other black workers ) who threatens to cook Eddie alive in a boiler. Eddie then has to make his way home on foot in the buff!
Another integral part of the film sees Eddie's nosey mother ( Patricia Hayes ) establishing a friendly relationship with Bill's father ( Charles Hyatt ). As one can imagine, this gets right up the noses of Eddie and Bill.
There are some fair gags on display here but overall it gives the impression of an outstretched episode rather than a film. The cast are all present and correct, including Tommy Godfrey and Keith Marsh as Arthur and Jacko. Eddie's boss Mr. Grainger appears here although is played by Bill Fraser. On television he was portrayed by Norman Bird. There is a hilarious scene at the end of the film in which Eddie, Joan, Barbie and Bill enjoy a luxury meal aboard their cruise, having won the competition. Joan gets a shock when she discovers that the steward is none other than her brother Cyril ( played by 'Dad's Army' and 'Romany Jones' actor James Beck ), who has just recently gotten married. Eddie gets an ever bigger shock when he finds out that Cyril's bride is none other than Barbie's sister!
Cropping up in supporting roles are Pamela Cundell, Andria Lawrence, Arthur English, Anna Dawson, Michael Sharvell Martin, Damaris Hayman and Melvyn Hayes. Director John Robins later went on to work on a film adaption of another hit Thames show - Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke's 'Man About The House'. Whilst not a horrible film on the whole, the format I feel did not have enough energy in it and as a result I feel I cannot really recommend it to anybody. I would recommend you buy a DVD of the series instead.
Funniest moment - a young woman letting out a scream upon finding a naked Eddie ( save for a tea towel ) hiding in a telephone box. While Eddie makes a run for it, the woman reports this incident to a passing policeman. The policeman then starts to take some details: ''Did you notice anything unusual about him?'' he asks. ''A red stripe!'' replies the woman, ( referring of course to the tea towel Eddie was wearing ), prompting a baffled look from the policeman.
The local paper - 'The Gazette' - is holding a contest to find the best neighbours, the winners landing a Mediterranean cruise. Barbie suggests to Joan that they should enter. The thing is, can Bill and Eddie stay friends long enough to win it? That's the main part of the plot. The film is by and large episodic. One chunk is lifted directly from Season 1, namely Bill and Eddie going to the Club pretending to be on 'union business'. In reality they're going to see a stripper ( not meeting two girls ). Another portion of the movie has Bill, along with other black factory workers ( in the series he was the only one ), breaking a strike Eddie has helped bring about by various ploys ( including being smuggled in through the gates in beer barrels ). While another ( seemingly inspired by Powell and Driver's 'For The Love Of Ada' ) sees Eddie's talkative mother ( the magnificent Patricia Hayes ) getting friendly with Bill's father ( Charles Hyatt ).
The climax to Episode 1 Season 1 reappears in an expanded form. Bill once more puts on paint and a towel to terrify Eddie, but his friends join him, and they dance round a drum containing a naked Booth, so that they can pretend to cook and eat him. Eddie then has to make his way home in the nude ( surprisingly, there is less nudity here than there was in Episode 2 Season 2 ).
The film ends with the Reynolds and the Booths winning the 'Love Thy Neighbour' contest, and taking the cruise together, but there's an unexpected twist involving Joan's sex-mad brother Cyril ( James Beck - 'Private Walker' of 'Dad's Army' ), who is working as a steward.
This is your typical '70's sitcom-into-movie, with all the faults usually prevalent in such films. The laughs are scattered about, and interest wanes after about half an hour. The cast is augmented by familiar faces such as Melvyn Hayes ( cast as 'Terry', a character from Episode 2 Season 1, played on that occasion by Leslie Meadows ), Bill Fraser ( as the factory manager ), Anna Dawson, Andria Lawrence ( who seems to have been in every '70's British comedy film, mostly cast as nymphomaniacs ), and Arthur English. The director, John Robins, was also responsible for the 'Man About The House' movie.
Funniest moment - while Eddie sleeps in a quiet part of the factory, Bill paints his face black. The first he knows of it is when the manager's secretary screams in terror. The tables have been turned!
At times the humour is funny, but very rarely. It's forgettable.