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  Three Hats for Lisa Doing Their Bit For The TitferBuy this film here.
Year: 1966
Director: Sidney Hayers
Stars: Joe Brown, Sophie Hardy, Sid James, Una Stubbs, Dave Nelson, Peter Bowles, Seymour Green, Josephine Blake, Jeremy Lloyd, Michael Brennan, Eric Barker, Howard Douglas, Dickie Owen, Norman Mitchell, Arnold Bell, Barrie Gosney, Douglas Sheldon, Joe Gladwin
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Johnny Howjego (Joe Brown) is cycling down the street to work one morning when he stops outside the local cinema to admire the advertising for a new film starring his favourite movie star, Lisa Milan (Sophie Hardy). What he then finds out is that she is headed near to him on a publicity tour, and her flight is landing at the airport in half and hour or so, therefore when he gets close to work he notices his girlfriend Flora (Una Stubbs) and his best friend Sammy (Dave Nelson) are waiting for him, but before they can protest he has persuaded them to accompany him to the airport to see if they can meet Lisa. Hopping into a taxicab driven by Sid (Sid James), they set off...

If there's one thing Three Hats for Lisa aspired to be, it was as bright and colourful as the classic Hollywood musicals which by that stage were beginning to slip out of fashion, so what you had was an aspiring work which set its sights on the heyday of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, only tried to apply all that to the streets of London, making the British capital as glamorous in its way as New York was in On the Town. They recruited a pop star of the day, Joe Brown, who they knew could not only carry a tune but was identifiably from the city, then built a plot around him which owed quite some degree of debt to Roman Holiday - yes, Joe was in the Gregory Peck role.

The only time you would ever say that about him, but he managed to embody plenty of the cheeky chappie spirit even if his dancing left something to be desired. Not as much as Sid James' dancing, mind you, apparently someone believed it would be amusing to have the erstwhile Carry On star - regular series scribe Talbot Rothwell was on script duties here - try out a few steps as he sang in his unmistakable sandpaper tones, which right enough carried a hefty dose of novelty. Sid did release a small handful of singles in his lifetime, but nothing to trouble the chart compilers, and aside from the natural goodwill he created you can well hear why pop stardom never beckoned.

In fact, the only really impressive dancer was Una Stubbs, but she had proven her worth in Cliff Richard musicals like Summer Holiday which Three Hats for Lisa was following in the footsteps of; Dave Nelson had this as his sole film credit, and seemed to have disappeared from the showbiz scene shortly after - he's not bad here, even if saddled with the stock best mate part, but undistinguished otherwise. The real Continental touch of exoticism was applied by Sophie Hardy as the titular Lisa, with her heavy French accent and blonde good looks obviously hired in the wake of the Brigitte Bardot effect that saw many of her countrywomen placed in English language movies.

Odd thing was, her character was meant to be Italian, though she never so much as attempts to alter that accent, so maybe it was Sophia Loren the producers had in mind as first choice, or it could have been the Audrey Hepburn princess was what they were trying to emulate. Lisa is a strange one, though, for once she decides she wants to hang around with the four Brits for the day, seeing the sights, she reveals her ulterior motive, and that is her criminal tendencies. Now presumably it was supposed to be charming that she wants to steal three hats from the heads of three locals, but it doesn't do her much credit, and you might wish that they had come up with a more lighthearted purpose for the storyline to alight on various London landmarks. You do get a lecture of sorts about the places of the capital, and also are told the difference between a busby and a bearskin, but the sense that Lisa is a corrupting influence on our fine upstanding British citizens never really leaves it. As for the songs, Leslie Bricusse went on to Willy Wonka, but with the sub-West Side Story hoofing there's nothing so catchy here.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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