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  Go To Blazes Where's The Fire?
Year: 1962
Director: Michael Truman
Stars: Dave King, Robert Morley, Daniel Massey, Dennis Price, Coral Browne, Norman Rossington, Maggie Smith, Miles Malleson, Wilfrid Lawson, David Lodge, John Welsh, Finlay Currie, James Hayter, Derek Nimmo, Dudley Sutton, John Le Mesurier, Arthur Lowe
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Harry (Daniel Massey) looks like a well-dressed man in love as he walks down this London street carrying a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates, so who is the lucky lady? Nobody, as it turns out, for he is in fact a smash and grab thief who strolls up to the jewellers' window and throws the box through it – it actually contains a couple of bricks – then pulls a crowbar from the flowers to smash the rest of the glass to offer him easier access to the spoils. He is picked up by his associates, mastermind Bernard (Dave King) and driver Alfie (Norman Rossington) and they zoom off, though the police are in hot pursuit and manage to catch them when the traffic stops for a fire engine...

The criminals are not best pleased as you can imagine, but after a two year stretch the appearance of the fire engine has given Bernard an idea, and for a comedy concept it's not bad, indeed it would even do for a straightforward crime thriller. If this trio were to acquire their own such vehicle, then they could make a far easier getaway than they would in a normal car, reasoning that everyone stops for a fire engine so all they would have to do would be to speed away from the scene of the crime and ring the bell a lot and the other drivers would believe they were on their way to a blaze and get out of their way. Naturally, there are complications for their ingenious scheme.

After all, there was not going to be a comedy of this vintage that had the antiheroes succeed in their lawbreaking, even The Italian Job from the other end of the decade saw a spanner being well and truly thrown in the works to ensure the rule of fairness and decency had been served, though not after we had been invited to indulge ourselves in enjoying the hijinks springing from the thieves' actions. As if indicating the growing influence of the anti-establishment in British pop culture (and not just British), there were an increasing amount of lighthearted comedies illustrating the activities of roguish but not hateful ne’erdowells, often with a big robbery to pull off that would be foiled during the final act.

So there was not much to distinguish Go To Blazes from those, and it didn't really belong to the sophisticated capers that would proliferate throughout the nineteen-sixties, being more down to earth than those and in spite of Massey playing it resolutely posh, there was no question of anybody popping open the champers come the denouement, and not only because we were well aware they wouldn't get away with it. We were merely waiting to see how they would come to grief, in the hope that it would be amusing and inventive, though while it was clever enough to satisfy, and even oddly sweet, you couldn't imagine many roaring with laughter at anything very much that unfolded here.

There were a handful of decent chuckles, however, but perhaps the biggest contribution the film made to the nation’s heritage was to capture all those locations in and around London in glorious widescreen and full, brilliant colour, which rendered the capital far more glamorous-looking than many of its black and white contemporaries and sought to anticipate the Swinging London capers of a short time in its future. Assuming you really needed a modest crime comedy to have these Cinemascope and Technicolor visuals, which some would argue were unsuitable, but if you liked even the most middling movie to go the whole hog on its appearance, then this would be right up your street. Add to that a distinctly overqualified cast of British thespians and comedians, including Maggie Smith with a French accent and Robert Morley as a pyromaniac, plus Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier before Dad's Army but alas not in the same scene, and star spotters would be sated too. Music by John Addison.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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