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  And the Same to You A Touching Tale Of The Cloth
Year: 1960
Director: George Pollock
Stars: Brian Rix, William Hartnell, Tommy Cooper, Vera Day, Sid James, Tony Wright, Leo Franklyn, John Robinson, Renee Houston, Miles Malleson, Ronald Adam, Dick Bentley, Shirley Anne Field, Arthur Mullard, Rupert Evans, Larry Taylor, George Leech, Terry Scott
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Bishop of this parish (Miles Malleson) has invited the vicar (Leo Franklyn) to meet him and discuss the church hall, which is currently co-owned, effectively, by the church and the small-time businessman Walter Burton (William Hartnell). What they don't know is what he uses it for, but sending the Reverend and his nephew Dickie (Brian Rix) around to discuss what is to become of the property leads them to a discovery: rather than a youth club or something similarly improving, it is a boxing club. They are both aghast, but Walter is a fast-talking conman who believes he can turn this renewed interest to his advantage...

Brian Rix had a fairly healthy career in comedy films away from his stellar work in theatrical farces, though this was later overshadowed by his tireless charity work that earned him, if anything, far more acclaim than he ever won from making people laugh. Nevertheless, it is instructional to go back to his films, since we cannot be in the audience for his theatre performances, and see what the fuss was about, though in this he was not the author of the piece, and it was not based on one of his hit plays. Here he was more part of an ensemble, made up of some old reliable comedy faces, including one who was more used to the theatre and television.

He was Tommy Cooper, whose film career never really took off as his particular material was not always best suited to a narrative item, so it was little surprise that sketch comedy shows on the small screen would see him at his most popular, though perhaps nowadays he is better known for having Tim Vine jokes credited to him. Still, a legend of laughs, and he gets the odd one in this as the dim Horace, Burton's henchman seemingly taking the more obvious Rix role of goodnatured idiocy away from Rix himself, who as it played out was a shade sharper than his usual role of a bumbling but well-meaning sort getting in over his head with whatever he's stuck with.

Here it was passing himself off as a boxer, as for convoluted motives he contrives to replace Burton's star pugilist when he knocks him out after jokily sparring with him. He boxed at university, it seems, so could win a lot of cash for the restoration of the church hall's roof, which is in bad need of repair, and so we had our plot, such as it was, with all concerned more interested in delivering the funnies than getting embroiled with the finer points. Most of the pleasure from films like this were not so much the hilarity or otherwise of the material, it was more seeing the seasoned pros interact, and future Doctor Who Hartnell was particularly enthusiastic as essentially the lead role, second only to Rix in keeping things moving. He had a very satisfying rapport with "Guest Star" Sid James, for instance.

They were antagonists in the story, but worked together with great accomplishment, and the same could be said of many of the cast, from the better known like Rix to the lesser known like Franklyn, who was his foil as Dickie trains for his big match. In fact, the cast were so reliable that they managed to wring a few laughs out of some fairly hackneyed gags; if you were familiar with this era of British comedy you would be very comfortable watching them all interact, every one on the same page as far as the comedy went. One other notable aspect was how cynical And the Same to You (named after the song belted out over the credits) was with regard to the subject of professional boxing. If you had no idea of how this profession went normally, after seeing this you would come away believing it was a hive of scum and villainy so immoral that it was a shock all involved hadn't been arrested yet. It made a humorous contrast with the religious characters, anyway, and naturally nothing the like of which goes on here happens now. Heaven forfend. Music by Philip Green.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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