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  Alligator Named Daisy, An Wizard Lizard
Year: 1955
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Donald Sinden, Jeannie Carson, James Robertson Justice, Diana Dors, Roland Culver, Stanley Holloway, Avice Landone, Richard Wattis, Stephen Boyd, Ernest Thesiger, Margaret Rutherford, Frankie Howerd, Jimmy Edwards, Gilbert Harding, Joan Hickson
Genre: Musical, Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Peter Weston (Donald Sinden) is an aspiring songwriter who works in a music shop and today is returning from a holiday in Ireland when he notices an attractive woman on the ship, so he wolf whistles. She is less than impressed and asks him if he's lost his dog, then knocks over her suitcase accidentally, so he helps her pick up her belongings; not the best of introductions, but they will be getting to know one another far better over the next day and all because of what an old sailor left in the cabin he was sharing with Peter. It is an unwanted pet, and the sailor thinks Peter has a kind face, so is ideal to look after an alligator...

It doesn't get any more sensible after that opening in this, one of the more eccentric comedies to hail from Britain during the fifties. The main attraction here, as it was in many films of the time and since, was a talented animal which would win the hearts of the audience and enhance their enjoyment, though the problem here was that alligators just aren't that cute, no matter if they did tie a pink bow around it. Thus there were many scenes where Sinden and his new love interest from the ship Moira O'Shannon (Jeannie Carson replete with dodgy Irish accent) would be appealing to the viewer's better nature, assuming they were animal lovers, and the reptile of the title would simply sit there like a prop.

Oh, it would occasionally move around, but alligators were evidently the sort of creature which would not move about more than was necessary, which made the use of a fake animal vital, adding to the ridiculous tone as it was plainly a plastic replica being pulled along on a string. To make this yet more ludicrous, the filmmakers, hedging their bets as to the hopeful endearing qualities of Daisy, shoehorned her into as many scenes as possible, so you would have what looked to all intents and purposes a light romantic comedy which insisted on asides to the lizard which obviously had no interest or emotion regarding the love life of its new master. Then when you thought it couldn't get any more silly, Carson broke out into song.

A musical as well? Not much of one, it had to be said, as the leading lady barely got two numbers to perform, the first one at a rural petrol station which as you can imagine was not the most glamorous of locations no matter how they tried to dress it up with Carson frolicing among the oil drums and hula hooping an inner tube. Elsewhere the songs were relegated to background duties for Peter is engaged to Diana Dors, or rather an heiress played by Diana Dors, and her rich father is James Robertson Justice doing his short tempered old buffer act for the umpteenth time, though granted he had found something he was good at and stuck with it. He arranges an engagement party for them, which is where another song is introduced, but it's the alligator who's the star.

There's a love triangle you see, not involving Daisy - though she does get her own romantic attachment before the end - and the hapless Peter is in the middle, trying to find a way out of marriage to his fiancée and into one with zookeeper Moira. If nothing else this played host to a great number of recognisable British celebrities of the day, with two Miss Marples as Margaret Rutherford appeared as an eccentric pet shop owner and Joan Hickson tried to buy a piano from Peter only to find he had stashed the reptile inside it, because that's the obvious place to put one of course. Also showing up for a day's filming were the likes of Frankie Howerd, MC-ing the party for alligators at the end, Jimmy Edwards promoting the beasts as pets and grumpy TV personality Gilbert Harding who is appropriately disdainful. As they were throwing everything at this, other delights ranged from Diana taking a bubble bath to Stanley Holloway taking a pot shot at Daisy because that's the way he treated them in India. Utterly foolish then, yet oddly entertaining.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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J. Lee Thompson  (1914 - 2002)

Veteran British director frequently in Hollywood, usually with stories featuring an adventure or thriller slant. Among his many films, including a number of Charles Bronson movies, are capital punishment drama Yield to the Night, adventures Ice Cold in Alex and North West Frontier, the original Cape Fear, Tiger Bay, wartime epic The Guns of Navarone, What a Way To Go!, horror Eye of the Devil, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and slasher Happy Birthday to Me.

 
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