Leo McKern plays Professor Bowles-Ottery, a scientist who has developed a serum that makes lab rats go wild with euphoria...then drop dead. He begins to wonder how that wonder drug might be put to use on larger subjects, such as the town gossip and the professor who stands in the way of his promotion at St. Simeon's University.
The result is a black comedy that isn't completely satisfying, but does provide some good laughs along the way, especially for McKern fans.
Written by the man who did the script for KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, and directed by film and TV veteran Don Chaffey (who directed McKern in one of his memorable appearances on THE PRISONER), the film is loaded with great British character actors: Mervyn Johns, John Sharp, Leonard Rossiter, Miles Malleson, Dennis Price, and the slinky Janet Munro, who you might remember from SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON or THE CRAWLING EYE. A breezy score by John Barry adds the right touch, with organ solos by Alan Haven and guitar by Vic (007 Theme) Flick.
Not as cute and innocent as the 1950s Ealing comedies, and with some serious scenes involving the love triangle between McKern, his wife (Maxine Audley) and Munro, A JOLLY BAD FELLOW is hard to categorize, but easy to enjoy. Working against the enjoyment factor is the horrible, damaged print used to make the DVD, with portions of the credits missing (as well as bits of shots here and there) and loads of scratches and blemishes.
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