HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Chasing the Dragon
Into the Forest
Limehouse Golem, The
Frankenstein '80
Good Time
Bucket of Blood, A
Detroit
Hide and Seek
What Happened to Monday
River Wild, The
Veteran
Slumber Party '57
Juliette, or Key of Dreams
Summertime Killer
Sweet Virginia
Ben & Arthur
Your Name
Red Hot Shot, The
New World
Trick Baby
Weapons of Death
Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World, The
Kills on Wheels
Strait-Jacket
This Man is Dangerous
Burning Paradise
Away
Mistress of the Apes
Incredible Paris Incident
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
   
 
Newest Articles
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agnès: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
   
 
  On the Fiddle The Army Game Buy this film here.
Year: 1961
Director: Cyril Frankel
Stars: Alfred Lynch, Sean Connery, Cecil Parker, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Kathleen Harrison, Eleanor Summerfield, John Le Mesurier, Bill Owen, Patsy Rowlands, Victor Maddern, Barbara Windsor, Jack Smethurst, Miriam Karlin, Graham Stark
Genre: Comedy, War
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Cheeky cockney Horace Pope is always on the lookout to make some money, and the fact that a war is on won’t hinder him! Hence the nature of his arrest, selling dodgy gear out of a suitcase to chaps queuing up to enlist. When he explains to the court that he was only doing it whilst waiting to sign up the judge decides he shouldn’t be imprisoned but help the war effort by joining the military. Meeting a rather slow witted gypsy he decides that present circumstances aren’t going to stop his scheming ways and starts going On the Fiddle.

The fun tone of this British gem is immediately established with its opening score, a brassy marching main theme to which, if one were so inclined, the films title could be sung along to. It is a likeable film with two likeable leads in the shape of Alfred Lynch and a then less well known Sean Connery. Lynch brings to life the work shy Horace Pope with aplomb. The familiar loveable rogue character he is a spiv who sees all the angles, whether its selling leave passes or redistributing Army meat for a few bob he can never let a chance slip by. Probably reflecting a far more realistic soldier, one who doesn’t want to be shot at but just survive. In many ways the character of Pope comes across as an English version of that other military con artist Sgt Bilko. Well, every Bilko needs an accomplice and in On the Fiddle Connery plays that role as Pedlar Pascoe, a low on intelligence but high on honesty gypsy. For a modern audience it is strange to see Connery, obviously now most well known around the world as 007, in this role which was his last prior to acquiring a Licence To Kill. Nevertheless, after the initial shock you almost forget all that as he brings a likeable naivety to the role.

With the set up established within the first ten minutes the film quickly gets on with the job in hand as after a brief few scenes of training, Pope has met and befriended Pascoe and upon arrival at their first posting is already on to a scam within minutes! The constant movement of the main characters is in keeping with the reality of the day, as is the depiction of war torn Britain with its rationing and the yank ‘invasion’ playing important parts. Stock footage is also used, obviously cost effective but reminds the audience of the ever present danger of attack. But this film is less concerned with a country at war and more with the daily life of those posted around the British Isles.

Such is the nature of the film, the two heroes moving from one posting to another, that at times it does feel like a series of comic sketches and situations rather than a complete movie. However this is also a plus point as the pace is lively, moving from one humorous scam to another. It also allows for plenty of cameos from a whole host of popular comic actors of the day. Lance Percival briefly turns up as a Scottish solider, then there is John Le Mesurier as a stiff upper lipped by the book Sergeant, Stanley Holloway as a local butcher and another effortless piece of scene stealing by Wilfrid Hyde-White. There is even time to jam in a small role for Barbara Windsor! Amongst all the comic episodes there isn’t much room for drama. But there are a couple of more serious elements, such as Pope’s return home to meet his father, during which a depth to his character is added that is unexpected in a film such as this. It is only in its final act, however, that the serious tone dominates when the duo finally see some action. From this addition it could be assumed that On the Fiddle was a propaganda film of the war years, surprisingly though it was made in 1961. Whether this affected its popularity upon release is hard to judge, it may have been seen as a bit old fashioned in its theme by the beginning of the sixties.

On the Fiddle appears to have been neglected somewhat. But is definitely worth seeking out. It contains many of the standard ingredients for a British classic, working class heroes up to no good, gentle ribbing of the establishment and a good old British cheeky feeling to the whole thing. Many of the cast are rightly seen as masters of comedy acting and this movie is a great chance to see a handful of them giving their all. Alfred Lynch’s performance is also worth noting, he was one of the few working class actors at the time, the film arriving on screens just before the rise of such performers as Michael Caine. Also of note for film anoraks is the presence of a certain Scottish gentleman who would go on to become one of the most well known and iconic actors on the planet.
Reviewer: Jason Cook

 

This review has been viewed 6353 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Cyril Frankel  (1921 - )

British director who made the star-packed war comedy On the Fiddle and was uncredited co-director on School for Scoundrels, as well as working on such TV shows as Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Avengers, Jason King and UFO.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Rachel Franke
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Keith Rockmael
   

 

Last Updated: