Lively comedy sending up British stiff-upper-lip prisoner-of-war dramas, starring James Robertson Justice as Sir Ernest Pease, a bombastic scientist who ends up in a German PoW camp during World War II. The inmates, led by Jimmy Cooper and Jock Everett, are forced to help him escape.
I’ve seen a few James Robertson Justice/Leslie Phillips/Stanley Baxter films recently (thanks, Amazon Rental!), such as THE FAST LADY and FATHER CAME TOO, and compared with such absurd and dated fluff this works well. The ‘This is Your Life’ framing device is simple but neat; Annakin keeps thing moving, without allowing any of his cast to go over the top, even James R-J’s role has more depth and less bluster than usual; various comedy stalwarts (Eric Sykes, Richard Wattis, John Le Mesurier) do their thing in ways that make sense in plot terms; Baxter’s dual role is brilliantly handled, with tiny adjustments in gait and expression making it quite clear which is which when they appear in the same scenes. Even Leslie Phillips (with the possible exception of Kenneth Connor the most annoying of all the British comic actors of the 50s & 60s) brings something to the party this time. In some ways it stands up better than ‘serious’ POW stuff like THE WOODEN HORSE.
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