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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 references to "darkies" and "blacks" taking good English jobs) it remains a delight for nostalgia buffs as it stars a swag of the character actors who put the face on British film comedy of the period.

Ian Carmichael plays an upper-class twit who is used by his smarmy businessman uncle (Dennis Price) and his crooked accomplice (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 moribund 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 trouble with film unions).

Carmichael,. who went on to  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 Alf Garnett in ‘Til Death Us Do Part ten years later (with Irene Handl  in the part that would be taken by Dandy Nichols) albeit at the opposite end of the political spectrum.

 

 

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