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  Calamity the Cow Begin The Bovine
Year: 1967
Director: David Eastman
Stars: John Moulder-Brown, Elizabeth Dear, Stephen Brown, Phil Collins, Josephine Gillick, Grant Taylor, Honor Shepherd, Alastair Hunter, Michael Warren, Desmond Carrington, Ken Goodlet, Peter Halliday
Genre: Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Rob (John Moulder-Brown) and his six siblings and friends live in the English countryside and have been much taken with a local cow owned by one of the farmers there. She is named Calamity and as she does not give milk, she has been earmarked for a one-way trip to the abattoir, but the kids have other ideas and rescue her to take home as a pet. They are instructed by their father that if they want to keep her, they must clear out the shed under the house for the animal to stay in, which they launch into with some messy gusto. But what they do not know is that there are some villains around in the area who are more than willing to break the law by committing the crime of cattle rustling! Will the kids be able to foil their nefarious scheme?

Another Children's Film Foundation effort to feature Moulder-Brown, though he did fine out of his acting career, Calamity the Cow was best remembered for a different performer and it wasn’t the titular bovine character. Step forward none other than acclaimed drummer and future Genesis frontman Phil Collins, under his Sunday name of Philip Collins, who played Rob's older brother: this film appears to have been a source of great embarrassment to him ever since, and he tried his darnedest to get out of making it at the time as well, which explains why there's a stretch in the middle where his character is nowhere to be seen because he's on holiday or something (this was where he was renegotiating his contract, presumably, or some other diva behaviour). But say this for Calamity the Cow, it's a heck of a lot better than Buster.

The plot was the accustomed kids solving crimes shenanigans as the quasi-Famous Five (with Timmy the Dog replaced with a cow) set about foiling the rustlers, who even go as far as framing beloved Radio 2 stalwart Desmond Carrington for stealing one of the cattle, Carrington playing the mild-mannered but enquiring Uncle Jim who could have exposed the entire operation had the kids not beaten him to it. There was a bunch of detective material of the kind that would have been prevalent in sixties kids' reading matter, including a method of following the baddies to their lair using a bag of sand with a hole in it to make a trail from the back of their truck, though this is nearly spoiled when Murphy's Law intervenes. The cow was the nominal star, but aside from butting folks did not, perhaps, truly hold much charisma, though if you like to see cows performing comedy, this was ideal. Listen out for the lyrics of her theme song, which are nothing less than extraordinary.

[This is available with eight other CFF films on the BFI's Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3, all on DVDs packed with extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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