20 user 3 critic

The Punch and Judy Man (1963)

Dark comedy about a seaside Punch and Judy man driven to distraction by his social climbing wife and his hatred for the snobbery of local government. He is persuaded to go to the Mayor's gala evening but it's all too much for him.


Jeremy Summers


Phillip Oakes (screenplay), Tony Hancock (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Hancock ... Wally Pinner
Sylvia Syms ... Delia Pinner
Ronald Fraser ... Arthur Palmer (Mayor)
Barbara Murray ... Lady Jane Caterham
John Le Mesurier ... Charles Ford (Sandman)
Hugh Lloyd ... Edward Cox
Mario Fabrizi Mario Fabrizi ... Nevil Shanks
Pauline Jameson ... Mrs. Palmer (Mayoress)
Norman Bird ... Reginald Fletcher (Committee Man)
Peter Vaughan ... Fred (Town Clerk Committee Man)
John Dunbar John Dunbar ... Committee Man
Walter Hudd ... Clergyman
Brian Bedford ... 1st. Escort
Peter Myers Peter Myers ... 2nd. Escort
Eddie Byrne ... Ice Cream Man


Dark comedy about a seaside Punch and Judy man driven to distraction by his social climbing wife and his hatred for the snobbery of local government. He is persuaded to go to the Mayor's gala evening but it's all too much for him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

seaside | independent film | See All (2) »


Hancock rebels again!




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Did You Know?


The disc jockey on the radio that Tony Hancock's character turns off at the start of the film is the recently-departed Brian Matthew. See more »


Dudley House Bed & Breakfast has a Bognor Regis, rather than Piltdown, phone number, so revealing the genuine location used. See more »

Crazy Credits

The Piltdown civic dignitaries portrayed in this film are, like all other characters and events in the film, wholly fictitious and any similarity to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental. See more »

Alternate Versions

The version of the film issued in 2006 as a DVD double with Call Me Genius by Optimum Releasing is edited, removing four minutes of footage (at around the nine minutes mark). This loses Wally leaving the house after breakfast - after inserting some flowers into the pig ornament on his way out - to visit Edward mending the puppet crocodile in his garage, then encountering the Mayor on the road. The beginning of the following scene in the Town Hall is also clipped. See more »


Featured in London: The Modern Babylon (2012) See more »


Concerto Grosso
Music by George Frideric Handel
Arranged by Derek Scott
See more »

User Reviews

Hancock at the crossroads
30 May 2008 | by chrismartonuk-1See all my reviews

This film occupies a significant stage of Hancock's life and career - the moment it all went wrong. His first post-Galton and Simson project has gone down as the moment when hubris ran rampant and he fatally cast himself adrift from the totems that had secured his success. Hancock probably thought that a distinguished writer such as Philip Oakes was a step-up from Ray and Alan, but the art of TV comedy writing is a very difficult, considerably underestimated one. Galton and Simpson benefited from the break with Steptoe and Son but Oakes, and the others who followed, could not help but subliminally be influenced by their writing of the East Cheam buffoon, only - like those who followed Eddie Braben writing for Morecambe and Wise - their version was a shallow facsimile of the sparkling original that took the catchphrases but none of the depth or understanding. Whereas THE REBEL should nowadays be regarded as a minor classic of Britfilm comedy and a worthy glass display case of a considerable comic talent at the top of its game, THE PUNCH AND JUDY MAN is an interesting misfire. One can clearly see that Hancock was aiming for a more cinema verite style of comedy away from the Astrakhan coat and phrases like "stone me!". But the tone varies too much and the overwhelming sense of melancholy overwhelms the proceedings - especially when viewed in hindsight. Some gags are astonishingly vulgar and crude for the Lad Himself - the flowers up the china pig's orifice and the two-fingered salute. The scene with the boy in downing the ice cream sundae is worthy of Chaplin, but the one where Hancock dances about in the street and inadvertently wanders into a lingerie shop looks too much like inspiration running dry and devising a visual set-piece for the film's trailer. Elsewhere, the annoying of the Yaks with the hatches in the restaurant is a sequence that catches fire but the bread roll throwing at the finale falls flat (why not go the whole hog and use custard pies?

Instead of playing the overreaching buffoon with ambitions beyond his reach, Hancock played a character content with his lot in life - however trivial. He works well with Sylvia Syms and his comedic talents had yet to be irretrievably ruined by booze and his mental turmoil. But, even in the midst of the squalor that his later life became, it was impossible to dislike him and once can only respect the Lad Himself for attempting to broaden his horizons.

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Release Date:

8 April 1963 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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