It's nearly Bonfire Night, and this group of four young friends are looking forward to it, making a guy for the top of the pile of wood, which is like a scarecrow stuffed with straw. However, in the shed they are creating it, one of their number accidentally sets off their stash of fireworks - proving you should really be careful around such things - and that destroys their guy. To make up for this blunder, he offers to stand in, or sit in, as the figure, and they dress him up in a big coat, boots, hat and beard and his pals tie him to their cart, then parade him around the local streets asking for "A penny for the guy?" However, not everyone wants to get into the spirit of the occasion, and trouble is ahead...
Peril for the Guy was an early Children's Film Foundation item, revolving around Guy Fawkes' night, a celebration popular with children though as an occasion it actually predates Fawkes' plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, being a fire tradition that went back centuries, millennia possibly, whose origins are lost in the mists of time. None of that bothered us here, as the plot mainly concerned itself with the problems of international espionage, for wouldn't you know it? Our quartet of heroes stumble across a plan to steal an oil detecting device from a local professor, which has nothing to do with Fawkes at all (and oddly, when one of the kids tries to explain the event he is met with outraged scepticism).
There were a few kind of well known faces here, among the kids there was Frazer Hines who would go onto to be Patrick Troughton's companion Jamie in Doctor Who during the late sixties, and among the adults lead villain Peter Copley was recognisable for his long, long career in character roles, while his sidekick Katherine Kath (with the French accent) was a regular on TV and the stage. Paul Daneman played the good guy Professor who magnanimously wants to gift his oil-detecting machine to the British Government, but even more crucially, is nice to the kids and gives them two shillings for their guy (don't worry, the little boy doesn't go method in his role and end up perched atop the bonfire).
Peril for the Guy was simple fare, as it should be, but as it was on the side of the children from start to finish, meant it could smuggle in a lesson about being sensible around fireworks, though frankly they probably could have emphasised it even more given that the protagonists resort to using the explosives at every opportunity to get them out of scrapes. There was plenty charmingly ridiculous here, from the mass brawl between youngsters and spies in Copley's rambling, oak-panelled manor house (more appropriate to a ghost story, really) to the variations on the traditional comeuppance for the bad guys in C.F.F. projects: instead of falling in the water, most are drenched with a hosepipe, and Copley is dropped from a great height into a lake (!). Anything to keep the junior audiences happy, one supposed. Music by Geoffrey Wright.
[The BFI have released the Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box, which includes the following films:
Also included are a special feature length documentary The Children's Film Foundation Story, an interview with Veteran CFF writer John Tully, a booklet, and three shorts from the 1950s, all with heroic hounds.]