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Thursday, 22 November 2007

I'm All Right, Jack (1959) John Boulting

'Three of England's Top Comedians... One Big Laugh Riot!' reads the tagline and that's complete nonsense. This is possibly the greatest collection of English comedic talent ever to share the same film. Beyond Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers, there's Margaret Rutherford, John Le Mesurier, Richard Attenborough, Dennis Price, Irene Handl... the list goes on.

The film has an intriguing start. Peter Sellers, who seems to always play more than one role in every movie he's in, is Sir John Kennaway, key member of every facet of establishment there is, and the narration tells us that he's on his way out. Cue the credits. England is changing. We then meet Ian Carmichael as Stanley Windrush, a young member of the establishment who wants to go into industry. He doesn't have any luck getting in anywhere as an executive, so he gets work at his uncle's missile firm 'on the other side' as a worker.

Unfortunately the workers think he's an undercover time and motion expert, so shop steward Fred Kite, (Sellers again), gets to stir everything up. There's no end of trouble, of course. There's a real time and motion expert in the form of John Le Mesurier who can get to work if only manager Terry-Thomas can find a way to make it happen without the unions knowing. Kite is trying to convert Windrush to communism, while he's more busy lusting after Kite's buxom young daughter Cynthia. Meanwhile the management has some sort of scheme going on, which somehow integrally involves young Stanley.

The story is a peach: top notch as a comedy, a drama, a social comment, you name it. It's wild and outrageous, yet it's completely real and even serves as an excellent snapshot of its time. It's acted as impeccably as you'd expect from the unparalleled cast, with especial credit going to Peter Sellers, whose restrained performance is sheer genius. What surprises most though are the slew of bare female butts at the Sunnyside Nature Camp and the fact that this classic English comedy wasn't made at Ealing. It's a British Lion production, proving yet again that regardless who made them, the best, cleverest and most astute comedies of the era were almost all British.

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