A disparate group of music students meet up when attempting to find cheap digs. But this is just the first problem they encounter as they endeavour to complete their term at the London Academy Of Music and The Arts. Can they endure the tutorage of the formidable Sir Benjamin, earn enough money to live and pass their final exam, upon which receipt of the coveted Strauss Scholarship rests for the best student?
Messrs Thomas and Rogers once again recruited their regular company of comic actors for another light-hearted romp, Raising The Wind. Set in the London Academy Of Music and The Arts it charts the whimsical misadventures of a group of students played with aplomb by a collection of actors who need no introduction. Leslie Phillips is his usual caddish self as Meryvn Hughes, who has eyes for a rather tasty cellist in the form of Liz Frazer and they are joined by, amongst others, the suitably snobbish Kenneth Williams as Harold, their arch rival. Also enrolled is Jim Dale in a brief cameo. Alas the male lead, Paul Massie is sadly pretty forgettable, as the straight man he is overshadowed by the comic ensemble and his romance with Jill (Jennifer Jayne) seems to happen without any indication or attention paid to it. Much more memorable is James Robertson Justice as Sir Benjamin, a characterisation that is a variation of his most well known part, Sir Lancelot Spratt. He is irascible & authoritarian but ultimately fair and always has the students best interests at heart. At the other end of the scale we have Morgan Rutherford (Eric Barker) the quintessential absent-minded lecturer, more concerned with improving his golf swing than the musical abilities of his students.
The plot is pretty inconsequential, although the film moves along smoothly with the characters going from one scrape to the next, a disastrous recital being one of the highlights. Some mild dramatic tension is added when Meryvn happens to, whilst under the influence, sell a little ditty to a pair of crooked music publishers – expertly played by Sid James and Lance Percival – which threatens his chances of securing a scholarship. It would be interesting to see how different this script would have been had it been made just a few years later, when the full impact of the swinging sixties took hold.
An amusing little film that is reminiscent of Ralph Thomas’ Doctor In The House – combining as it does the same focus on episodic student live with comic mishaps – it is another in a long line of successful British comedies to feature a collection of actors that have rightly become household names. Raising The Wind is one of the better examples of the work of that cinematic company with its mix of witty one-liners and mild slapstick.