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  Frozen Limits, The Gold In Them Thar Hills
Year: 1939
Director: Marcel Varnel
Stars: Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox, Charlie Naughton, Jimmy Gold, Moore Marriott, Eileen Bell, Anthony Hulme, Bernard Lee, Eric Clavering, Jean Kent
Genre: Western, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Song and dance men The Six Wonder Boys (The Crazy Gang) are performing their act at a carnival, but considering there is a troupe of Hulah Hulah Girls gyrating on the stage opposite, it's unsurprising that they are not getting any attention. Or any money for that matter, as their landlady appears and protests that she's come all the way from Scunthorpe to seize the rent they owe her. And not only that, but the owner of the carnival is after them to get his pay for use of the stage, and ends up taking the shirts off their backs. Where can they possibly go now? How about The Yukon?

Never mind that they're forty years too late for the Gold Rush, The Frozen Limits is that rare thing, a British western. For that reason, it's better to consider it as a comedy: for a start, it's much more entertaining that way, and it's a chance to see the legendary UK comedy merchants at somewhere near their best. There are those who say that to really appreciate these guys you had to have seen them on stage, but that's not possible now of course, so it's by their films that we judge them.

This was the original line up of the Crazy Gang, with Chesney Allen present and correct, and they are nothing less than frantic in the energy they bring to the script by Marriott Edgar, Val Guest and J.O.C. Orton, who had written Oh Mr Porter! for Will Hay. I can't imagine the humour travelling well, but apparently it did open in America, giving one pause to wonder what they thought of it. Still, British audiences were getting what they wanted, and with war breaking out around the time it was released they needed all the entertainment they could get.

The plot sees the Gang making their way to the Frozen North (represented mostly by the studio) in search of gold, and finding it after a fashion. First they have to negotiate with Indians, which they do by the improbable means of disguising themselves as them and bartering for their safe passage. Naturally they're far to inept to make this work, so a nearby cowboy helps them out and they end up at the ghost town which is inhabited by Moore Marriott on excellent form, under the illusion that the place is full of locals; the Gang don't wish to shatter his illusions and play along.

It turns out there is gold around, but only Marriott knows where it is - sort of. He finds a lump of it while out sleepwalking (it's a full moon and the Gang feed him too much cheese), leading to a new gold rush, the only drawback being that they have to follow the old man while he sleepwalks to see where he is going for the riches. Meanwhile, local baddie McGrew (Bernard Lee, a long way from the James Bond flms) is determined to see our heroes hanged so he can get all the treasure for himself. Peppering this plot is a play put on by the Gang, complete with one dressed as a baby even though he can't be seen on the stage, a spoof of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and a runaround finale with some slowly approaching singing Mounties all of which tickle the funny bone. I don't know if it's their best big screen work, but with its sheer nuttiness it's better than some.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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