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  Trouble Brewing Could Organise A Piss-Up In A Brewery
Year: 1939
Director: Anthony Kimmins
Stars: George Formby, Googie Withers, Gus McNaughton, Gary Marsh, C. Denier Warren, Beatrix Fielden-Kaye, Joss Ambler, Ronald Shiner, Martita Hunt, Esma Cannon, Basil Radford
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: George Gullip (George Formby) works in a newspaper, at the printing press, but fancies himself as something of a budding detective, not with the police but as a private operator like Sherlock Holmes. To that end, he has been devising his own signature accoutrements to ensure he can track down criminals, and that includes special ink that will stick to the fingers of suspects and can only be removed with his special formula. Unfortunately, George's invention has got onto the cat, which in turn has left pawprints over the front page, but luckily for him the boss doesn't want that front page to be published since he does not believe the lead story about a counterfeiting ring is anything the general public would be interested in. But what does he know?

Trouble Brewing - and yes, that is a pun in the title, as you will see - was Formby's follow-up to a string of successes that rang the box office tills consistently from the mid-nineteen-thirties to the mid-forties, indeed, he was the top box office draw in Britain for most of those years. This was another hit for him, and as his formula was more or less set in stone by this stage, audiences were happy with what they were offered, the comedy thrills premise, the three or four songs added to satisfy his fans, the love interest George doesn't get too amorous with because his wife Beryl was watching him like a hawk and jealously disapproved of anything like that. Nevertheless, right at the end there was a kiss between him and co-star Googie Withers.

Exactly how they got away with that is not known, but George must have suffered when Beryl saw the completed film, mind you, he didn't have much to complain about: as with his comedy and song near-contemporary across the Atlantic, Danny Kaye, it was his wife who had seen to it that Formby was able to be as huge in the hearts of the world's public as he was. Well, much of the world, he never took off in the United States, but thanks to these movies prevailing at the pictures when they were released, and later being staples of television broadcasts, works like Trouble Brewing picked up new generations of fans for Formby, well after his relatively early demise in his mid-fifties. This one was blessed with a few good laughs at his gormless persona, and a sense of triumph when he won the day in the closing reel.

That plot was surprisingly complicated, or rather, plenty happened to keep things rattling along so that it was not unusual to see George mixed up in a wrestling match halfway through, simply thanks to a spot of action needed and this being an ideal way to provide it. He was very nimble, and although a stuntman was involved for the trickier moves, much of the acrobatics and combat scenes were performed by himself, all in a comedy style yet nevertheless very kinetic and muscular as these things went, enough to rival the Hollywood comedians. He was backed by a decent cast, notably occasional foil Gus McNaughton as his best friend who is a little too fond of beer (so he gets an appropriate fate), Withers as the capable heroine, who despite being kidnapped (a cliché even back then) managed to get away and save the day on her own terms, and even uncredited Esma Cannon, if you ever wanted to see what she looked like young(ish), here playing a maid who is enraptured by Formby's rendition of the minor classic Fanlight Fanny. All in all, you knew what you were getting with Formby across his career, but this effort was a good place to start for the newcomer.

[Network release this on Blu-ray with an image gallery as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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