Lord Southmere escapes from China with a microfilm of the formula for the mysterious "Lotus X", and is captured by Chinese spies who have been instructed to retrieve the microfilm from him. Escaping from his captors, Lord Southmere hides the microfilm in the bones of a large dinosaur at the National History Museum. However, he has been followed into the museum by the spies, so Lord Southmere asks Hettie (his former nanny), to retrieve the microfilm before the spies can find it. He is then promptly recaptured by the head spy, Hnup Wan. Hettie, and her friend Emily (another nanny), devise a plan for a group of nannies to search for the microfilm, but they are unsuccessful in their endeavors. The spies then decide to steal the dinosaur, but are outmaneuvered by Hettie and Emily, who, with a young nanny named Susan, take the dinosaur skeleton on an unforgettable journey around the countryside. When Hettie's two young charges, Lord Castleberry and his younger brother, Truscott, also become...Written by
David McAnally <D.McAnally@uq.net.au>
This was Hugh Burden's final film before his death on May 17, 1985 at the age of 72. See more »
When the nannies are searching the dinosaur, Hettie observes that if the skeleton fell on them they would be the first people to be killed in a dinosaur in two million years. Dinosaurs actually became extinct about 65 million years ago. Humans emerged only about 500,000 years ago, so Hettie is wrong on multiple counts. See more »
This was one of the most memorable films of my childhood, and I hadn't seen it since it came out in the cinema in England when I was seven years old, until I was given a DVD of it again today, thirty-one years later. Although today it didn't have me rolling in the aisles or have me doing Peter Ustinov impressions for hours afterward like it did back then, it still was a charmer, and it was simply just fun to watch. It deliberately encapsulates a bit of the paradoxically innocent yet bigoted flavor of England back in those times, and there are many little delicate touches for those with an appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of the English. Peter Ustinov is perfectly cast to be given license to run amok with his non-politically-correct character, considering he was one of the most well-read, culturally-sensitive intellectuals of his generation. (Check out HIS Bio!) It's certainly all about him. Overacting? I'd say "playing it broad" instead, and yet with real skill. Ustinov was a master raconteur on many subjects: political, cultural, and musical, and his comedic timing was also very acute. I think it shows. Is this film racist? Well, it certainly couldn't have been produced by Walt Disney in today's social climate, but I'd say rather that it is really a grand romp in satire, made at a time when we could more easily laugh at ourselves and each other, and forgive a little easier too. Sure it's completely "wrong" that the Chinese guys are actually played by Europeans in make-up. But the very joke lies in just how much a parody this "Chinese" make-up actually is, and how no-one is remotely intended to be fooled. Paraphrasing lines of Ustinov's (Chinese) character explains this perfectly: "How can you tell Europeans apart? They all look the same...those eyes." The film left me with the wistful feeling and hope that here was the England and these were the kinds of adventures that we had when we were children. (How dearly I would still love to run around with a squad of Great British Nannies or Chinese Agents looking for a microfilm on the Diplodocus in the Natural History Museum.) It's a wonderful time to look back to, even if it probably only ever existed in imagination. Sadly, the once-free-to-wander-in- during-our-summer-holidays Natural History Museum now charges a hefty admission fee. And that's a fact.
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