Miles Cornwall (Nigel Patrick) lives in a Grace and Favour house in London next to St. James's Palace, which is technically the house given to his father, who also works for the British Government, and his sister Alex (Valerie Hobson) lives with them. But that arrangement may not continue for much longer since Miles has been posted to a different location, this one abroad: he did have the chance to go to Washington D.C. in the United States, which he would have been delighted to do, only thanks to Alex’s intervention and concern for his moral upkeep she has arranged it so that he stays well away from those American women and will instead be sent to the Arctic Circle, which he is less enthused about. However, that night a new possibility arises, for wouldn't Miles be better off with a nice Irish colleen?
Or at least a Welsh actress putting on a wavering Irish accent? Peggy Cummins, for it was she, played the recent immigrant Christina Deed who shows up at the house to seek her fiancé, who is a soldier in the guards there, Arthur Crisp played by George Cole, because he has broken off their upcoming nuptials in a letter. Christina refuses to go quietly so has travelled across the Irish sea to persuade him to marry her after all, but through a convoluted sequence of events she ends up being pursued romantically by Miles, which if this sounds like the sort of plot you would get in a West End theatrical farce, or a comedy of manners at any rate, then that’s because it was indeed that, rushed into production while the stage version was still fresh in the audience’s minds, not that there are many who recall it now.
Still, the film did enjoy an interesting and capable cast to act out some very safe misunderstandings and confrontations, headed by the always urbane and well-to-do Nigel Patrick, coming into his own as one of the top British box office draws of the nineteen-fifties, largely because his debonair wit was precisely the demeanour the nation’s cinemagoers were keen to see in their homegrown movie stars, he was something to aspire to and that fact that he could be just as roguish as he was terribly polite gave him an engaging edge. He wasn't called upon to stretch himself here, more or less exactly the same as he ever was, but he proved a comfortable and easy to watch presence as he always did, and he had a nice chemistry with Peggy Cummins, who was already a cult actress thanks to one of her American films.
That was Gun Crazy of a couple of years before, and anyone who has witnessed her in that would be keen to see how she measured up in other roles, but the fact remained she was rarely given the chance to make the same kind of vivid impression, though in a way that made her more intriguing since you were consciously watching her to discern that spark of electricity, and sometimes she would grant you that. In this case, in spite of the on-off accent, she was very appealing, and if it hadn’t been for Patrick she would likely have walked away with the picture as she portrayed the wide eyed young woman who nevertheless may be more canny than she is letting on. Those with a fascination with British politics could be alert to see Valerie Hobson too, she of the standing by husband John Profumo fame of Government-destroying scandal of the decade to come, here she was her usual composed and classy self, and George Cole was very typical in his performance, no bad thing, though you did wonder what Christina saw in Arthur. So not hilarious, but the interaction between the selection of actors was enough to sustain what was fairly basic, with a preoccupation with the guardsmen's duties for flavour.
[Network's DVD boasts a restored print for its British Film category, and a gallery as an extra.]