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  Make Mine a Million Product PlacementBuy this film here.
Year: 1959
Director: Lance Comfort
Stars: Arthur Askey, Sid James, Dermot Walsh, Olga Lindo, Clive Morton, Sally Barnes, George Margo, Lionel Murton, Bernard Cribbins, Kenneth Connor, Martin Benson, David Nethheim, Bruce Seton, Tommy Trinder, Dickie Henderson, Barbara Windsor
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Arthur Ashton (Arthur Askey) is a chirpy makeup man at the National Television studios, but what he wants more than anything is to have a foot in the door of showbusiness and more than using his powder puff on the performers who cross his path in the dressing rooms. Today he is watching a musical number from the sidelines, but overdoes it with the powder and makes his subject sneeze, all too audibly for the producers of a live T.V. show. It does not help matters that Arthur falls over a table shortly afterwards, but as he will discover, disrupting television is something he has a talent for...

There is no advertising allowed on the B.B.C., but there was on the commercial channel back in 1959, the only rival to the corporation at the time, and ever since there has been a debate over whether it should relent and allow ads, thereby giving up the licence fee which funds it; after all, it's illegal in Britain to watch T.V. without one. This state of affairs was not lost on the writers of Make Mine a Million, which included star Askey and future Carry On scribe Talbot Rothwell, and the new-ish popularity of the commercial channel must have inspired this cheerful comedy.

What happens is that Arthur, who in a gag sequence is not recognised by stars of the day - including his own daughter (!) - sees a way to help out struggling soap powder salesman Sid James, here in a shocking career move playing someone called Sid. Everyone keeps tellling him that nobody will buy his product if they cannot see it advertised on the television, so when he hears about Arthur's supposed contacts, he jumps at the chance to exploit them, even though it's the national network they're talking about (here an alternatively-named B.B.C.).

So if Arthur cannot get Sid's washing powder, amusingly called Bonko, onto the independent network, what can he do for him? Well, he manages to interrupt the national signal by sabotage, and introduces an advertisement by training a camera on a slide and taking over the broadcast for a few seconds. The fact that this is a broadcast of highbrow entertainment cannot have been lost on 1959 audiences, as the Beeb were seen as stuffy and out of touch with the common man compared to the more populist I.T.V., so the fact that something as vulgar as an ad intrusion was on there must have contributed to the fun.

There is an outrage, but the T.V. bosses are all too aware of who has perpetrated it and call Arthur to their office boardroom, which is humorously decked out like the throne room of a palace. Arthur is promptly sacked, as is his assistant Bernard Cribbins, and Sid is left with orders but nothing to follow up the publicity with. Or is he? Arthur still has a few tricks left up his sleeve, such as gatecrashing a ballet performance of Swan Lake at the Edinburgh Festival (yes, Askey does appear in a kilt, which duly falls down around his ankles), to promote a new brand of cake mix that has signed up as a client of Sid's, and by the end he has foiled some robbers. They could have opted for a barrage of bad taste in Make Mine a Million, but it's resolutely good-natured throughout, still working up a fair number of laughs in the process. Music by Stanley Black.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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