Monday 12 February 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: I'm All Right Jack

Here we go with another in my series of blogs looking at some of the cream of British comedy film making from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Although this blog is all about the Carry Ons, believe it or not, there were some other joyous comedy films made away from Peter Rogers Productions. However, given the quality of the actors Peter employed to make his series, it's no wonder that most of them popped up elsewhere.

So far I've looked at the wonderful 1959 crime caper Too Many Crooks , the 1954 domestic comedy starring Dirk Bogarde, For Better For Worse , the big screen spin off Please Sir! and the wonderful Up Pompeii and the brilliant John Gregson and Diana Dors vehicle, Value for Money.
More recently I blogged about the Sid James and Kenneth Connor comedy horror What A Carve Up! and just last week I blogged about the Gordon Jackson drama, Floodtide

Today I'm going to blog about the 1959 comedy film, I'm All Right Jack.

Who's in it?

I'm All Right Jack boasts one of the strongest casts of any British film comedy of the era. Ian Carmichael stars as the innocent of the piece, Stanley Windrush. Peter Sellers takes on one of his best loved film roles as Union boss Fred Kite and Terry-Thomas stars as Major Hitchcock, boss of the factory.

The film also features several high profile guest stars in Margaret Rutherford as Stanley's Aunt Dolly, Richard Attenborough as Sydney DeVere Cox and Dennis Price as Tracepurcel. 

Carry On Faces?

Loads! Liz Fraser grabs her first big starring role in the film playing Fred Kite's daughter Cynthia. Playing her mother in the film is reliable character actress Irene Handl. Familiar Carry On supporting actor Victor Maddern has a sizable role as factory worker Knowles while some of the other workers are played by the likes of Fred Griffiths, David Lodge, Cardew Robinson and Terry Scott.

Harry Locke, a regular in three of the medical Carry Ons, plays a trade union official while the diminutive Ian Wilson pops up as an Evangalist. One of my favourites, Esma Cannon, also has a small role as Spencer, Margaret Rutherford's maid. 

Carry On Nurse actor John Van Eyssen appears in a small role as a reporter alongside the brilliant Michael Ward. Another stalwart, Brian Oulton, turns up early on in the film as the Appointments Board Manager while Carry On Cruising actor Ronnie Stevens plays Hooper at the Num Yum's factory, alongside Martin Boddey, as an Executive. There are also blink and you'll miss them appearances from Robin Ray, son of Ted and brother of Andrew, and Marianne Stone as a T.V assistant (After all, which British film of the era could proceed without Marianne Stone?)

And one final Carry On connection. I'm All Right Jack's narrator is E.V.H Emmett - a regular newsreader and voiceover actor who provided narration for the 1964 classic, Carry On Cleo.

What's it about?

After leaving the army and returning to university, newly graduated upper class Stanley Windrush is looking for a job but fails miserably at interviews for various entry level management positions. Stanley's uncle, Bertram Tracepurcel  and his old army comrade, Sidney DeVere Cox, persuade him to take an unskilled blue-collar job at Uncle Bertram's missile factory, despite Aunt Dolly's misgivings.

At first suspicious of the overeager newcomer, communist shop steward Fred Kite takes Stanley under his wing and even offers to take him in as a lodger. When Kite's curvaceous daughter Cynthia drops by, Stanley readily accepts.

Meanwhile, personnel manager Major Hitchcock is assigned a time and motion study expert, Waters, to measure how efficient the employees are. The workers refuse to cooperate but Waters tricks Windrush into showing him how much more quickly he can do his job with his forklift truck, than other more experienced employees. When Kite is informed of the results, he calls a strike to protect the rates his union workers are being paid.

This is what Cox and Tracepurcel want; Cox owns a company that can take over a large new contract with a Middle Eatern country at an inflated cost. He, Tracepurcel and a Mr Mohammed, the country's representative, would each pocket a third of the £100,000 difference.

Things don't quite work out for either side. Cox arrives at his factory to find that his workers are walking out in sympathy for Kite and his strikers. The press reports that Kite is punishing Windrush for working hard. When Windrush decides to cross the picket line and go back to work (and reveals his connection with the company's owner), Kite asks him to leave his house. This provokes the adoring Cynthia and her mother to go on strike. More strikes spring up, bringing the country to a standstill.

Did you know?

The film is a sequel to the Boulting Brothers' earlier hit film, Private's Progress, with Ian Carmichael, Dennis Price, Richard Attenborough and Terry-Thomas reprising their roles from that 1956 film.

Peter Sellers won a BAFTA award for best actor for his role as Fred Kite.

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