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  Up the Chastity Belt You Got SerfedBuy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: Bob Kellett
Stars: Frankie Howerd, Graham Crowden, Bill Fraser, Roy Hudd, Hugh Paddick, Anna Quayle, Eartha Kitt, Royce Mills, Anne Aston, Lance Percival, Godfrey Wynn, Nora Swinburne, David Battley, Derek Griffiths, Judy Huxtable, Ian Cuthbertson, Rita Webb, David Prowse
Genre: Comedy, Historical
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Back in the olden times, the Queen of England gave birth to a son, but he was lost, so when she gave birth to twins one of them went on to be Richard the Lionheart, King of England. Yet the other one was rejected and brought up in a pigsty, growing up to be Lurkalot (Frankie Howerd) who made his way through life as a serf to his master, Sir Coward de Custard (Graham Crowden), utterly unaware of his royal bearing as a prince, though a voice from beyond often sounded to point this out. He had more important things on his plate, anyway: his master's castle was going to rack and ruin...

This was the second of theatre impresario Ned Sherrin's attempts at bringing the small screen popularity of the Roman-set sitcom Up Pompeii! to the big screen, the first having been a straightforward adaptation, with cruder jokes (if such a thing were possible) and more nudity. This time around they kept the cruder jokes and dispensed with the naked women, not a good trade in some audience's eyes, but as yet another example of British cinema looting television hits for material, this was at least able to move on with its concept, sort of a variation of eighties sitcom Blackadder for the decade before.

Except there was little true wit to be found here, just a succession of double entendres and blue references which may have been funnier back then, as watching it now it was undeniable that times had moved on, and those dreaded words "sexist" and even "racist" could be levelled at what was on offer here. But thanks to the inimitable comic stylings of Howerd the barbs were rendered more tolerable when it was clear that nobody really meant any of this to be taken remotely seriously, and to his credit he did manage to raise the odd indulgent titter when yet another contrived item of humour popped up.

There was a story to this, but mostly that was an excuse to present what amounted to a series of sketches on a theme, the joke being Lurkalot was much more savvy than the rest of the characters as Howerd basically played himself, commenting on how everyone else was so much dimmer or at least unaware than he. Placed in this privileged position in the narrative, as usual the script (by the quite prestigious Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, as well as Sid Colin, another comedy veteran) did its best to cut him down to size as Lurkalot does his best to save the castle - and Sir Coward's daughter (Anne Aston, game show hostess famous for The Golden Shot). This led him to Turkey and the Crusades.

Which turned out to be one big party, an excuse for knights to get away from home and live it up with various maidens and dancing girls with the blessing of Saladin. He was played by Derek Griffiths, just as he became a big star with the children of Britain on kids TV (not for this, obviously), one of many famous faces, and indeed forgotten faces by many, who appeared here in small roles. Eartha Kitt was intended to be the major guest star and she sang the theme song too; she didn't get much else to do which essentially placed her on a par with the likes of David Prowse (who jousts with Howerd on horseback) comic calypso merchant Lance Percival, and then-celebrated boxer Billy Walker, all of whom turn up to offer an impression that this was more prestigious than it actually was. With the barrage of off-colour quips from beginning to end, the production was lucky to avoid the seediness which continually threatened to dominate, but it was fairly innocuous otherwise. Music by Carl Davis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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