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  That Riviera Touch You Can't See The Join
Year: 1966
Director: Cliff Owen
Stars: Eric Morecambe, Ernie Wise, Suzanne Lloyd, Paul Stassino, Armand Mestral, Gerald Lawson, George Eugeniou, George Pastell, Alexandra Bastedo, Nicole Shelby, Peter Jeffrey, Francis Matthews, Michael Forest
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Eric Simpson (Eric Morecambe) and Ernest Clarke (Ernie Wise) are a right pair... of traffic wardens, and one day while attending to their rounds Ernie is getting to write all the tickets as usual. However, Eric notices a vehicle that to his horror carries no number plates and on closer inspection has no tax disc in the window either. And it is parked on a yellow line! The driver pays him no attention so he walks up to the woman in the back seat and taps on the window, but then the car drives away as Ernie points out to his friend that there was a very important person in there. Time for a holiday, they decide...

And where better for two Englishmen abroad to go than the South of France? That Riviera Touch was the second of three films that attempted to make big screen stars of Morecambe and Wise in the sixties, none of which had the desired impact as the double act had really found its niche in television, where a simple idea that inspired a script like this could be over with in ten minutes as one of the sketches. Those writers returned from their previous movie, and this time there was evidently more money to play with as everyone got to visit the Riviera.

Mind you, for all the rear projection work and reliance on obvious sets, they might as well have stayed in Britain, but the few shots that were filmed at the beach did add a sparkle of Continental glamour missing from their other entertainments. The plot begins for real when Eric and Ern get off the plane, having brought their old banger of a motor car with them, and are told that they have been moved to another hotel. As there is a refund available, they don't complain, and wind up at one of those old, dark houses that comedy duos seem to spend a lot of their time in.

There's nobody about except the mysterious caretaker and he's no help - but what's this? Who are these shady characters skulking about? And why is there a body on the kitchen floor? And where does it go after Eric notices it? And so on, we're in very familiar territory here, but it's amusing enough for all that. After settling in as best they can, the boys head for the beach, and you can tell Eric is truly representing his country because he wears the time-honoured sandals and socks combination. However, an enigmatic woman, Claudette (Suzanne Long), has taken an interest in them.

Specifically Eric, but she leads Ernie along too. Her job is to keep them out of their villa from nine until midnight, something she does by inviting them both to a posh hotel, which happens to have a casino where Eric wins big, purely through coincidence. In truth, the plot doesn't stand up to examination - why do the baddies invite them down in the first place? If there are emeralds to be found, why bother with Eric's money belt? But it's all in the service of light thrills and lighter humour, some of which hits the mark: where Eric has to explain that he wanted a young woman to go to the ladies' toilet for him, for instance. Alas, that kind of ridiculousness is neglected in favour of old, reliable routines, and while the duo's personalities were strong enough, the material was lacking. Not bad, but not terrific either. Music by Ron Goodwin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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