Charters and Caldicott, those delightfully self-absorbed cricket fans of Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" and Reed's "Night Train to Munich" return in a film all their own. The very British pair of gents are traveling through the Middle East, when their tour bus runs out of gas. Quite annoyed to spend a night in the middle of the desert, the quite proper Englishmen do not even have a change of clothes for dinner. When they reach Baghdad, the pair come into possession of a phonograph record with a coded message and unwittingly become involved with a nest of German spies. Blithely unaware of their predicament, they bumble along to Istanbul and barely escape falling into the river through a hole in the floor behind a hotel door marked "Bathroom." Caldicott is miffed of course; the door should be marked "Bosphorus." The plot is light with enough holes to shame Swiss cheese and irrelevant to the fun, which lies with the witty dead-pan interplay between Basil Radford as Charters and Naughton Wayne as Caldicott. International politics are of no concern to the pair, especially when compared to cricket scores, and their travels are just a journey from one pesky inconvenience to another. Charters and Caldicott are the tourists who should never leave home, because foreign countries are so full of people who neither speak English nor understand the importance of cricket.
Charters and Caldicott are like a droll Abbott and Costello, minus the slapstick, and "Crook's Tour" resembles an Abbott and Costello movie. Like Abbott, Caldicott is a magnet for attractive women; despite his unlikely engagement to Charters's horse-faced sister, he returns the flirtatious interest of blonde Greta Gynt as La Palermo. Unfortunately, the movie also resembles the Abbott and Costello flicks with unwelcome musical intrusions, and, although the film is a relatively short 80 minutes long, La Palermo warbles a couple forgettable tunes that only slow down the action and take screen time from the stars. Despite the amusing leads, director John Baxter is no Hitchcock or Reed, and the film is more routine programmer than classic. However, the team of Radford and Wayne make the trip worthwhile.
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