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The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963)

Unrated | | Comedy, Crime | 17 May 1963 (Ireland)
In London, when Australian gangsters disguised as "Bobbies" rob British criminals, the panicked British mobsters seek an alliance with Scotland Yard in order to eliminate the foreign competition and return things to "normal".

Director:

Cliff Owen
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Sellers ... Pearly Gates
Lionel Jeffries ... Inspector Parker
Bernard Cribbins ... Nervous O'Toole
Davy Kaye Davy Kaye ... Trainer King
Nanette Newman ... Valerie
Bill Kerr ... Jack Coombes
Ed Devereaux ... Bluey May
Reg Lye ... Reg Denton
John Le Mesurier ... Assistant Commissioner
Graham Stark ... Sid Cooper
Martin Boddey ... Superintendent Forest
Irene Browne ... Dowager
Arthur Mullard Arthur Mullard ... Brassknuckles
Dermot Kelly Dermot Kelly ... Misery Martin
Vanda Godsell ... Annette
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Storyline

The crooks in London know how it works. No one carries guns and no one resists the police. Then a new gang appears that goes one better. They dress as Police Officers and steal from the crooks. This upset's the natural order of the Police/criminal relationship, and the Police and the crooks join forces to catch the impersonating Police Officers, including an armored car robbery in which the Police must help the gangs to set a trap. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Meet the Mastermind Who Pulls the Strings in the Underworld...and all his mobs and dolls...filling the London fog with laughter and lunacy!!!

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 May 1963 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

Falesná ruka zákona See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the police station on "no crime" night, one of the cops can be seen reading a comic book based on the U.S. television show Car 54, Where Are You? (1961). Joe E. Ross and Fred Gwynne can be seen on the cover. See more »

Goofs

When Inspector Parker and the other police officers arrive at Battersea Fun Fair to meet Pearly Gates, their taxis park in front of a generator lorry that was being used for lighting the scenes, and was not associated with the fun fair. See more »

Quotes

Jack Coombes: They shipped enough crooks out to Australia. It's about time they had a few back here!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Blitz (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh Charley, Take It Away
(uncredited)
Written by Arthur Le Clerq, Frederick Malcolm and Elvin Hedges
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Winning Sellers Caper Comedy
25 August 2010 | by slokesSee all my reviews

Peter Sellers comedies from before 1964 often come off to me as dingy, dated, and a bit twee. So "The Wrong Arm Of The Law" surprised me. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as easily as I did.

The movie's title comes from a predicament mob boss Pearly Gates (Sellers) calls the "oldest bleeding con in the business": Dress up like coppers, catch other criminals in the act, steal their loot, and get away. After being stung eight times, Gates' own gang call on the real law for help.

It's easy to confuse this with "Two-Way Stretch", another caper comedy Sellers made three years before, with both Bernard Cribbins and Lionel Jeffries in key support roles. "Two-Way Stretch" is amusing but stale; this holds up both as a story and large-scale character piece.

By day, Gates sells high-end women's clothing with the help of a fake French accent, using his knowledge of the well-to-do to mastermind burglaries. Cribbins is a rival crime boss so non-threatening he shows off his family photos; Jeffries is inept police inspector "Nosey Parker", who suspects a buy-off attempt when Gates first appears in his office.

"I'm not trying to bribe you, mate," Gates replies. "I don't carry loose change."

Also on hand to bring considerably sex appeal is cat-eyed, slinky Nanette Newman, Pearly's girl. Watching her make out with Sellers' stomach in one scene is pretty erotic stuff; she is also cleverly integrated into the rest of the story.

Director Cliff Owen did mostly British TV work. He shows himself here an accomplished cinematic stylist. An opening credit sequence recalls "Catch Me If You Can". The ending is remarkably satisfying; all the story elements come together with surprising grace. You wish Sellers' later, bigger-budget comedies were as well crafted.

One caveat: There are no big laughs in "Wrong Arm", just many small ones and amusing asides that keep coming. There's a gentleness reminiscent of an Ealing comedy. When the different gangs discover they're all being had by the same outside interest, they call a meeting where parliamentary rules of order are carefully observed. A pickpocket demands to be heard as the "voice of the small man".

Jeffries is the best thing in the film. You know he's a wally, but you like him anyway, and feel a bit when he makes a mess of things with his superiors. "Why do they always pick on me?" he whines, not at all like the hard-case he played in "Two-Way Stretch". Sellers is very good as well, sliding effortlessly between his London and French accents.

People who generally avoid Sellers films before "Strangelove" are well advised to make at least this one exception. "Wrong Arm" is a smooth treat that still stands up well, right up there with "The Ladykillers" and "I'm All Right, Jack" in quality and lighter than either.


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