I found it a bit of a slog last time to fit all of the information into the review so I’m going to mix up the format a bit. So with that in mind lets press on….
The Main Cast:
Sid James – Sid Plummer
Kenneth Williams – WC Boggs
Charles Hawtrey – Charles Coote
Hattie Jacques – Beattie Plummer
Joan Simms – Chole Moore
Bernard Bresslaw – Berine Hulk
Kenneth Cope – Vic Spanner
Jacki Piper – Myrtle Plummer
Richard O’Callaghan – Lewis Boggs
Patsy Rowlands – Hotence Withering
This was the 22nd film in the series and released in 1971. This is also the first film to be a box office failure due largely to the fact that it was seen to cast dispersion on the working class – who traditionally were the main audience for these films. It’s also the first of two films featuring Cope and O’Callaghan. Absent noticeably is Jim Dale and Barbara Windsor.
Set in a factory that makes toilets (Boggs, Plummer get it?) the film’s main plot revolves around an all controlling trade union (run by Cope) and a management struggling to keep the company afloat during all the strikes. We also have a couple of sub plots involving a love triangle for the affection of Myrtle Plummer (between Cope and O’Callaghan) a Budgie that can predict the results of horse races and a will they, wont they, story with James and Sims.
Is it any good?
In a word, no. You can see why it got so many people’s backs up. The 70’s were full of strikes (most very legitimate) and this film not only makes fun of this but portrays most workers as lazy (going on strike to watch a football match) and the unions leaders as incompetent or power mad. Making the owners of the company both sympathetic and likable is an odd move and one that kind of backfires, because as I said above, if you are working class why would you want to cheer for the bosses.
Having said that the sub plot with the budgie is kind of fun. Hattie Jacques plays against type as Sid’s wife (rather than the matron/firebrand roles she normally got) and the interaction between the two is great to watch. And the concept of a mystical Budgie (although as silly as the love potion from Abroad) is a pleasant diversion from the awfulness of the union stuff.
There is also weird side plot of Charles Coote trying to get everyone to play strip poker, which also gives something for Renee’ Huston’s charater (Vic’s mother) to do other than shout at her son (which she does a lot). The film does becomes fun when with a day trip to Brighton, so much so I wish the a whole film had been made of the sequence rather than the factory stuff.
The end of the film involves the intervention of the wives and mothers of the workers busting up the strike and allowing everyone to get back to work. But not before we get one of the worst set of dialog in the film between Cope and the “good” workers. Basically they want to do an “honest days work” and stop the factory closing where as the union are more interested in the grievance they have filed being referred to a sub committee in London. Oh and the grievance is over who should install a mutli usage fitting, a tap fitter or a waste pipe fitter.
Honestly, you could skip this one, there isn’t really a noticeable performance or even a fun bit of dialog worth watching the whole film for.
Best Charater Name: Going to have to go with WC Boggs as it appeals to the child in me.
Best/Worst Line: Cope’s dialog with his mother “Cold Sausages? That’s the 10th time this week, your spoiling me…”
Well I’m glad that one’s over. Next time we get back on form with Carry on Loving.