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  Go Kart Go Dynamic Dennis
Year: 1964
Director: Jan Darnley-Smith
Stars: Dennis Waterman, Jimmy Capehorn, Frazer Hines, Pauline Challoner, Melanie Garland, Robert Ferguson, John Moulder-Brown, Edward Martin, Hugh Halliday, Gareth Robinson, Christopher Witty, Graham Stark, Cardew Robinson, Wilfrid Brambell, Campbell Singer
Genre: Comedy, Drama, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jimpy (Dennis Waterman) and his gang have a need for speed, so to that end they have constructed a soap box cart to run down the main street of their village. However, all does not go quite to plan when various residents are sent flying by the approach of the makeshift vehicle, including their nemeses Harry Haggerty (Frazer Hines) and his rival gang. They are about to beat Jimpy up when the biggest member of the gang, Squarehead (Jimmy Capehorn), appears and they back down, but they still have one up on them because they have a proper go kart and the soap box crew do not, looking pretty impoverished as a result. Now Jimpy must corral his pals into building a go kart themselves, out of junk since they cannot afford a new one, and beat Haggerty at his own game...

Go Kart Go was one of the more famous Children's Film Foundation projects, purely because it featured Dennis Waterman as the lead, a few years before he would become a television staple in anything from The Sweeney to Minder to New Tricks, among many others. The fact sketch show Little Britain raised his profile by making him the butt of the joke that he was overfond of writing and singing the theme tunes to his programmes, which to all intents and purposes baffled Waterman (along with making him tiny in their sketches when in reality he was of average height), also gave him a curious appeal as well. For the record, he did not perform or pen the theme for this little item, he was presumably overruled by Ron Goodwin who actually performed those particular duties.

This passed as an action comedy, although it might have been funnier had everyone not taken the whole affair deadly seriously - the kids did, at any rate, but there were asides indicating it was not to be approached with that frame of mind, including not one but two scenes where characters fall into water, a signature C.F.F. move. Jimpy was one of those taking the plunge halfway through, but the brand's peculiar form of justice made the others more obvious as while our heroes do construct their go kart, Haggerty's band of ne'erdowells are keen to prevent them getting anywhere with it and contrive to sabotage it at every turn. That included Death Race 2000 tactics on the track, which kind of went without saying, but also more dedicated tries at scuppering Jimpy's shot at glory.

The C.F.F. being the moral organisation it was, it was not about to let Haggerty get away with what after all could have been very dangerous behaviour, though a dash of peril in the races was enough to make this exciting on a basic level. The heroes were underdogs throughout to make their potential victory all the sweeter, but the screenplay laid it on pretty thickly, so most of the enjoyment would stem from what were fairly decent action pieces. We can tell the rivals were not the sort of kids who would attend the Saturday clubs where this studio's output could be observed, which merely made them more hissable as events unfolded. Famous faces included Steptoe himself, Wilfrid Brambell (as a junkyard owner - typecast already), Cardew Robinson not living up to his nickname The Cad as he was a postman here, if a little dodgy, and Hines of course, soon to be in Doctor Who with Patrick Troughton. Overall, a speedy, archetypal effort from the Foundation.

[This is one of nine films released by The BFI on DVD in the Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Volume 2.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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