A small time crook about to hit the big time, Charlie Tully (Dick Emery) and his partner in crime Reggie Peek (Ronald Fraser) have set up an ingenious scheme at Buckingham Palace. Charlie is a master of disguise, and dressed as a woman gets a mould of the key to one of the palace's offices, then goes back the next day dressed as an official to con two rich Italians, a father and his son, into thinking that the son can marry Princess Anne. They're invited into the office by Reggie and Charlie, posing as Palace staff, and are persuaded to part with half a million pounds in return for the Princess's hand. However, all they'll get is humiliation when they find out the truth, by which time the con artists are long gone. Unfortunately for the thieves, larger figures in the underworld are on to them, so what to do?
What to do is the kind of solution you'd only get in a British comedy of the nineteen-seventies, but it's quite a long while until we reach that point, in fact it's about halfway through the film by the time the central gag is put into effect. Dick Emery was a hugely popular comedian on television during this decade, so with a lot of what was successful on UK TV at this stage his routines were transferred to the big screen, where he could get away with even more risque humour. Not all the characters in Emery's sketch programme made the transition, for example all we get of gay stereotype is a brief "Hello, Honkytonk!" by way of greeting to a camp tattoo artist, and the vicar may be there, but now he's a solicitor.
Also missing is Roy Kinnear, so there's no sign of Emery as the terminally thick bovver boy with Kinnear as his longsuffering but not much brighter dad, but most of the recognisable characters are present and (politically in)correct. Much of the humour is of the Carry On variety, some of which raises a laugh, but there's not enough of it as Charlie isn't in costume as much as he could have been. Now with not only local gangsters headed by Derren Nesbitt but also the Mafia on their tails, Charlie and Reggie are all ready to flee the country with their ill gotten gains, but Charlie makes an avoidable mistake when he sells a bulldog to a couple of Americans at the airport. Trouble is, the dog isn't his to sell and he is put away for six months by which time Reggie has arranged for the money to be stashed away in a Swiss bank account that only he knows the number of.
Alas, Reggie is bumped off by the gangsters before he can give Charlie the details, but they're recorded somewhere. After a lot of deduction, which seems unnecessary considering most of the audience would know the joke going in and waiting around for it is a trial, Charlie finds out that the account number has been tattooed on the arses of four women who Reggie counted amongst his conquests. Now our anti-hero must track down the bottoms in question, which naturally involves a lot of dressing up. The trouble with this is, Charlie isn't an especially easy character to warm to and only really shines when he's in disguise, so perhaps this script, by the comic's TV writers John Singer and John Warren, could have found a better approach to get Emery dressed up. That said, there are good jokes here, as when one of the tattooed ladies in her job as a British Rail station announcer tearfully recalls Reggie and immediately after uses the same tone to inform passengers of a cancelled train. As Emery's television series is rarely seen nowadays, his fans can be assured that he's somewhere near his best in this film. Music by Christopher Gunning.