4.6/10
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28 user 2 critic

Down Among the Z Men (1952)

Not Rated | | Comedy | October 1952 (UK)
The cast of the popular radio program "The Goon Show" perform some of their favourite routines.

Director:

Maclean Rogers

Writers:

Jimmy Grafton (by), Francis Charles (by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Harry Secombe ... Harry Jones (as The Goons)
Michael Bentine Michael Bentine ... Prof. Osrick Purehart (as The Goons)
Spike Milligan ... Pte. Eccles (as The Goons)
Peter Sellers ... Colonel Bloodnok (as The Goons)
Carole Carr Carole Carr ... Carole Gayley (as The Goons)
The Television Toppers The Television Toppers ... Dancers (as Leslie Roberts Twelve Toppers)
Clifford Stanton Clifford Stanton ... Stanton
Robert Cawdron ... Sergeant Bullshine
Andrew Timothy Andrew Timothy ... Captain Evans
Graham Stark ... Spider
Russ Allen Russ Allen ... Brigadier's ADC
Elizabeth Kearns Elizabeth Kearns ... Girl in Shop
Miriam Karlin Miriam Karlin ... Woman in Shop
Sidney Vivian Sidney Vivian ... Landlord
Howell Evans Howell Evans
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Storyline

Professor Pure Heart absentmindedly loses the top secret formula in Harry Jones' Grocery Shop. "Bats of the Yard", as Harry calls himself, finds it and proudly attempts to return it to the Professor. Written by ICMagent

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

goon show | lingerie slip | See All (2) »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1952 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Stand Easy See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

E.J. Fancey Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stanton, one of the soldiers, does an impersonation of Danny Kaye. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: E.J. Fancey Productions Have the misfortune to inflict. See more »

Connections

Featured in Climb Up the Wall (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Down Among the Z Men
(uncredited)
Music by Jack Jordan
Lyrics by James Douglas (i.e. Jimmy Grafton)
Performed by Carole Carr, Peter Sellers, Michael Bentine, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"I'd like to show you a bit of burlesque..."
14 June 2007 | by The_Secretive_BusSee all my reviews

The Goons revolutionised comedy in their hit radio series but their only foray into films showcases very, very few of their talents; in fact it's an absolute mess. The plot involves some spies trying to steal a formula (quite why British secret service spies are stealing British Army codes is just one problem among many) and um... stuff happens. Most of it irrelevant. The film only lasts 68 minutes and yet that includes two straight musical numbers from Leslie Roberts (who?) and two interminable tap-dancing scenes, none of which feature the Goons in any real way. Why all the padding? All pretence at building a story completely falls apart for about 15 minutes when all the characters involve themselves in a variety show for the army lads. Perhaps this was meant to hark back to the Goons' army revue beginnings, but it's bloody ghastly to watch. The Goons weren't known for their coherent narratives - that's what made them fun to listen to - but this is just taking the mickey.

One central problem is that very little in this film strikes one as being particularly Goonish. The prominence of Michael Bentine points to this film being made during the very early years of The Goons - he'd left by the time they became truly popular - and the few gags sprinkled around just aren't funny. When an army comedy resorts to guerrilla / gorilla puns, you know it's floundering. One of the highlights of The Goon Show was the sheer number of regular characters that the stars portrayed and yet each member is here reduced to only playing one character each, none of them doing so particularly effectively. Only Peter Sellers is really worth watching, being able to show off a few of the chameleonic talents that made him the success he later became, though he's perversely the most underused of the four stars. His understated Colonel Bloodnok completely steps out of character when performing a "comic" scene involving two American soldiers on stage, a sequence which highlights Sellers' fantastic ability to switch between voices and characters at will but something that hardly benefits the film by the point it occurs. Still, it's far more palatable than Michael Bentine's back-of-a-chair stand-up routine, which apparently brought him great acclaim back in the day; I can't think why as it's possibly the most unfunny bit of comedy I've ever witnessed.

What's particularly annoying about this film is that some really very talented minds were behind it. I've never really been a Goon Show fan, truth be told, but it can't be denied that Spike Milligan was an extremely talented comic writer, and Peter Sellers was one of the best comic actors that ever lived. Yet "Down Among the Z Men" is an absolutely diabolical collation of unrelated scenes and sequences with not a single funny line to make paying money for this travesty worthwhile. To think that the RRP for the R2 DVD is £16 is nothing less than astonishing. £2.50 would be pushing it. It's a slice of comedy history but one that's probably best left unremembered.


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