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UK 1959
Directed by
John Boulting
105 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

I'm All Right Jack

I'm All Right Jack had a good deal of satirical bite in its day and even if those times have long gone (and with them the easy references to "darkies" and "blacks" taking good English jobs) and the humour is at times laboured (to pun somewhat), the talk show finale particularly so, it remains a delight for nostalgia buffs as it stars a swag of the character actors who had put their stamp on British film comedy during the post-war period.

Ian Carmichael plays, Windrush, an upper-class twit who is used by his smarmy businessman Uncle Bertie (Dennis Price) and the latter's crooked accomplice, Coxie (Richard Attenborough), as a patsy in order to engineer a strike so that they can extract more money from a Middle Eastern group who have placed an order with them for munitions.  Peter Sellers plays Fred Kite, a Bolshevik-loving shop steward and in between these two camps is Terry-Thomas as the two-faced manager of the uncle’s factory.

The film opens with VE Day newsreel and Churchill giving the V-for-victory sign as a prologue for an acerbic portrait of the devastated post-war Britain of Harold Macmillan, mired by conniving profiteers and shiftless trade unionists (the Boulting brothers John and Roy, who, like the Coens, shared and alternated credits as directors, producers and writers, had had plenty of their own troubles with film unions).

Carmichael playing his standard clueless public school product, a character which he parlayed into a long career in television, is perfect as the naïve dupe and Price, Terry-Thomas and Margaret Rutherford are a lot of fun playing their stock characters (with many familiar faces in minor parts as work-shy proles) but the film really belongs to Sellers as Kite, the puffed-up little working class rhetorician, a precursor to television's Alf Garnett in ‘Til Death Us Do Part ten years later albeit at the opposite end of the political spectrum (occupied here by Irene Handl as Mrs Kite).




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