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  Loot An Absolute Farce
Year: 1970
Director: Silvio Narizzano
Stars: Richard Attenborough, Lee Remick, Hywel Bennett, Milo O'Shea, Roy Holder, Dick Emery, Joe Lynch, John Cater, Aubrey Woods, Enid Lowe, Harold Innocent, Kevin Brennan, Andonia Katsaros, Jean Marlow, Robert Raglan
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dennis (Hywel Bennett) and his best pal Hal (Roy Holder) have a plan to rob a bank next to the funeral parlour where Dennis works, but they haven't quite got the details ironed out yet. Today their hearse gets a parking ticket, but they are fortunate enough to arrive back at the instant the attendant is writing it, so after seducing her in the back of the vehicle they both manage to wriggle out of the fine. But then, that's the way things work out for them, by dint of good luck and cheeky charm, though Hal really shouldn't be so cheerful what with his mother on her death bed...

Loot was one of the last plays written by Joe Orton, and had a troubled history when he was alive, provoking the outrage the author would have liked, but not the acclaim, nor the ticket sales. After he was murdered, his work was quickly reassessed, and the version of Loot which he had been most happy with began to gain a reputation as a fine update of classic British farce for the late sixties and performed regularly, so it was an obvious candidate for filming, as its predecessor Entertaining Mr Sloane had been the same year. But there were grumbles, mainly centering around the opinion this was no longer near the knuckle farce, but wacky hijinks.

Oddly, the great television comedy writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson were hired to pen the script, not the most obvious choice and it was clear on watching the results that whatever the source had been like, the movie was more Carry On Orton, ironic seeing as how Kenneth Williams had been in the play's original cast, and doubly so that he wasn't invited to recreate his role. There were plenty of self-consciously kerayzee effects, much over the top performing, and a soundtrack by Keith Mansfield which continually lapsed into rockin' pop tunes, all in a rather desperate and obvious attempt to keep the energy levels up to sufficiently giddy stylings.

It was an interesting cast assembled to act out the barrage of bad taste, with Richard Attenborough essaying the policeman role of Inspector Truscott, a dedicated sleuth finally revealed as somewhat more mercenary than he might have appeared, in keeping with the cynical attitude towards the law and authority. Milo O'Shea was Hal's father, a devout Catholic convinced the mayhem erupting in his life was down to his late wife being a Protestant, and unlike his fellow actors actually managing to elicit a few genuine laughs from the material ("I've raised a ghoul at me own expense!"). Most unusually, a proper Hollywood star in the shape of Lee Remick played the scheming Nurse Fay, replete with an not bad stab at the Irish accent and a peroxide blonde hairdo.

The main body of the comedy revolved around, well, a body, as the deceased Mrs McLeavy is moved about the house and further when her coffin seems to be the ideal hiding place for the money, Truscott sticking his nose into Dennis and Hal's affairs, knowing full well they're responsible for the robbery but unable to prove it until he can uncover the banknotes. What this lacked in Orton's dialogue - one of the big complaints was that the best lines were nowhere to be heard - it tried to make up for with a frantic method, and to be fair the energy was impressive even if it wasn't laugh out loud funny for most of the time. To that end, Galton and Simpson added a couple of action sequences, one where the hearse driven by Dennis has its brakes fail and careers through the streets at high speed, which was fairly amusing, and one for the finale when all was revealed. But instead of humour, exhaustion might well set in halfway through, as if watching them all try far too hard was draining.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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