HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Synchronic
Capote Tapes, The
Night, The
Show Goes On, The
Furnace, The
Tyrel
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
   
 
Newest Articles
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
   
 

It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray

  It helps if your comedy has a great premise, and for Laughter in Paradise, the 1951 film with an impeccable ensemble cast, it was so good it's surprising it had not been dreamt up before, or used again more often (though there was a 1970 remake, Some Will, Some Won't, that was not quite as satisfying). We are introduced to Hugh Griffith as Britain's most famous practical joker as he is passing away, allowing himself one last prank when he sets his nurse's newspaper on fire before expiring in mirth, so we can well understand this was a man with mischief in his soul. But what if he were rich as well?

He has left a lot of money in his will and has obviously been keeping tabs on his heirs for he knows all their weaknesses, including what they would least like to be doing. And if they want those thousands of pounds worth of inheritance, then what they would least like to do is what they are landed with, kind of blackmail though they have the option of turning down the orders he gives them, it's just that they won't receive a penny if they do. As I say, a killer premise, since the writers, in this instance Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies, can offer themselves carte blanche to be as creative as they like.

Those four heirs were played by a quartet of accomplished thespians, three of them very adept at humour, most prominently Alastair Sim who played a writer of Mickey Spillane-style pulp fiction. The very idea of Sim penning these tawdry entertainments is inspired in itself, and there was a lovely introduction where he is dictating his latest to his secretly adoring secretary (Eleanor Summerfield) who may like her boss's output, yet it is clear he feels he is debasing himself by lowering his own preferred literary standards. From whence the comedy arises, especially when the will decrees he debase himself further.



Another heir was played by George Cole, who would of course go on to be just as celebrated as his mentor Sim, though largely on television with his role as Arfur Daley in the long-running television crime dramedy Minder. Here he exhibited his range, essaying the slow-talking, much put-upon bank clerk who lacks the confidence to be happy in himself, therefore Griffith has instructed him to take a toy pistol and a mask and hold up said bank. This was similar to Sim's orders, where he must spend twenty-eight days in prison for committing a crime, and once emerged, will receive his just reward from his deceased relative.

Also put through the mill is vinegary Fay Compton, who we are introduced to being positively beastly to her longsuffering maid (Charlotte Mitchell, who would voice female characters on radio's The Goon Show as required). Compton has the tables turned when for a month she has to take a job as a maid herself, and has a taste of her own medicine when she is in the employ of the tyrannical and unreasonable John Laurie, who seems to be bedridden purely so he can have people at his beck and call. Compton may not be much remembered now, but she was latterly known for playing battleaxes, making her reform welcome here.

Last in the foursome was Guy Middleton, again, not so well recalled but for a while the man casting directors went to for cads and bounders when Terry-Thomas was not available (a role he reputedly relished in real life as well). He played a gambling, womanising charmer who gets by on his wits and lack of morals, so naturally he must marry the first single woman he speaks to and finally settle down. Each of these tales, essentially constituting four stories in one and therefore getting the most value out of its ensemble, had their own twists and satisfying wrap-ups as director Mario Zampi put them through their paces with some flair.

Zampi and Pertwee would reunite for an even better regarded comedy in the same kind of multiple stories in one comedy, The Naked Truth in 1957, but there was much to appreciate in this earlier effort. Studiocanal have released Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray with a number of extras, chief among them Stephen Fry singing the praises of Sim in a featurette, and offering a general overview of other performers like Joyce Grenfell who also appears (as Sim's perfectly proper fiancée): his enthusiasm for this and other British comedies is infectious. Also on the disc is a curious public information film about saving fuel during the war, with Sim and Cole as a statue of Emperor Nero and a schoolboy respectively; barely over a minute, it is nice to see. Then there is the audio recording of Sim's acceptance speech for his Rector position of Edinburgh University in front of a rowdy crowd of students. Lastly, an image gallery rounds off the set, a must for Sim fans (oh, there's an easy to find Easter egg too).

Author: Graeme Clark.

 

< Back to Article list

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
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: 31 March, 2018