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  Gasbags They Were Hitler's Double
Year: 1941
Director: Marcel Varnel
Stars: Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox, Charlie Naughton, Jimmy Gold, Moore Marriott, Wally Patch, Peter Gawthorne, Frederick Valk, Eric Clavering, Anthony Eustrel, Carl Jaffe, Manning Wiley, Torin Thatcher, Irene Handl
Genre: Comedy, WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Second World War is raging, and Britain's defence is paramount. To that end, barrage balloons have been sent up and the commanding officer asks the Sergeant-Major (Wally Patch) to demonstrate the lowering and raising of them. All goes to plan, except - what's this? One of the balloons stays exactly where it is, prompting the enraged Sergeant-Major to seek out the men in charge of it. He tracks them to a fish and chips van which is using the balloon as advertising, and the men behind this rampant commercialism are none other than the Crazy Gang.

When World War Two was terrorising the planet the Allies found that one of the best propaganda tools they had at their disposal were comedy films. What better way to raise morale than to send up the enemy mercilessly? It made one proud to be British, seeing the nation bravely laughing in the face of possible impending doom. Some of those comedians tackling the Nazis through the universal medium of laughter were The Crazy Gang, here in an adventure scripted by the expert hands of Marriott Edgar, Val Guest and Val Valentine.

First the boys have to get to Germany, and they do so in the one of many gags that will have modern viewers bemused at their antics. They are told by the Sergeant-Major to bring down their balloon, which obviously all six of them have to attempt simultaneously, resulting in the top of their van ripping off and their transportation into the skies. They think they're headed for Ireland (cueing I.R.A. jokes when they get shot at - seriously), but of course they're off over the English Channel to Germany.

After their Irish misconception is corrected, they think they're in France because they see French soldiers, but on following them they end up in a prisoner of war camp. Through all of this, the Gang chatter incessantly and scurry around like hyperactive children, firing off quips and getting into surreal situations. They also meet the welcome form of Moore Marriott, a fellow prisoner who happens to have a map to the location of a top secret Nazi weapon tattooed on his back.

But they have to escape from the camp to do anything about it, of course, which they do by noticing that the place is filled with Adolf Hitler impersonators. These are the Fuehrer's doubles and have been sent to prison for going on strike, so as Teddy Knox has a talent for dressing up as the dictator (i.e. he has a little false moustache he can stick on at the appropriate moment), they all get freed to be part of a scheme to play Hitler at a public engagement (the other members have a selection of uniforms to wear). After half an hour of this, nothing they do will surprise you, it's all absolutely bizarre. But in a good way, with madcap, comic strip humour ruling the day and the Gang brimming with energy throughout - Spike Milligan must have seen this.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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