Dr Twist has to pose on a liner as a famous professor and is asked to tutor Bernie, the son of a millionaire. To avoid awkward US immigration questions, Twist enlists the help of a gangster... See full summary »
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The Crazy Gang were three sets of comedy double-acts who separately got star billing in Britain's variety halls, and who occasionally got together onstage (or in films) as a six-man comedy troupe. The most popular team in the act were Flanagan and Allen, who (deservedly) get the most footage in every Crazy Gang film. Bud Flanagan was a large raucous East Ender, similar to Stanley Holloway. Chesney Allen was handsome and well-spoken: he could have had a film career as a leading man, but he retired at a young age and was replaced in the Crazy Gang by "Monsewer" Eddie Gray, an unfunny dialect comedian with a phony handlebar moustache. Some of Flanagan and Allen's cross-talk routines are similar to Abbott and Costello's routines. In "The Frozen Limits", when Allen mentions "gold ore", Flanagan asks: "gold or WHAT?" (Another English comedy team from the same period, Jewel and Warriss, came much nearer to imitating Abbott and Costello.) In their stage act, Flanagan and Allen sang sentimental ballads between their comedy routines.
The second double-act in the Crazy Gang were Nervo and Knox. Teddy Knox was a dapper man with a pencil moustache. Early in "The Frozen Limits" he dresses up as a woman, using a handbag to hide "her" moustache. Jimmy Nervo came from a family of circus performers; he never learnt to read or write but he was too vain to admit this. During rehearsals for the Crazy Gang's films, he would always claim he'd left his reading-glasses at home, and Knox (who knew his secret) would read Nervo's lines for him until Nervo knew them off by heart. Nervo was the boyish member of the Crazy Gang; during one scene in "The Frozen Limits" he impersonates a child. The least interesting double-act in the Crazy Gang were Naughton and Gold, two short Scotsmen who look like William Frawley and speak with thick Glesga accents.
"The Frozen Limits" is the Crazy Gang's best film, full of antics and lunacy. At one point they do an audacious spoof of Disney's "Snow White", even whistling "Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off to Work We Go". There's also a very funny song, "Always Getting Our Man", performed by a camp chorus of Mounties on horseback.
Some of the jokes in "The Frozen Limits" will go right past American viewers. Lines like "I must spend a penny" and "Mother Brown's got her knees up" are very funny to me, but Yanks won't know the cultural references which make these lines so funny. The film also includes references to Joseph Chamberlain, Neville Chamberlain, council housing, and so forth ... which are clearly MEANT to be funny, but which are inaccessible to Americans.
Bernard Lee, best known as "M" from the James Bond films, gives a fine performance here as the villain. Also noteworthy is Moore Marriott, an elderly comic actor who gave impressive support to nearly every major British comedian of the 1930s.
"The Frozen Limits" is so funny, you'll enjoy it even if you miss half the jokes ... and it's a delightful artefact of wartime Britain.
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