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  Mutiny on the Buses No Room On Top
Year: 1972
Director: Harry Booth
Stars: Reg Varney, Doris Hare, Michael Robbins, Anna Karen, Stephen Lewis, Bob Grant, Janet Mahoney, Pat Ashton, Kevin Brennan, Bob Todd, David Lodge, Tex Fuller, Caroline Dowdeswell, Jan Rennison, Damaris Hayman, Juliet Duncan, Michael Nightingale, Roger Avon
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Bus driver Stan Butler (Reg Varney) has stopped his vehicle to have a canoodle with one of the clippies, Susy (Janet Mahoney) as the passengers waiting to board grow increasingly frustrated below. His conductor Jack Harper (Bob Grant) is keeping them at bay, until the domineering inspector, Blakey (Stephen Lewis), arrives and starts to put the pressure on. Meanwhile, Stan is so engrossed that he starts promising his girlfriend anything, ending with him agreeing to marry her, a rash decision made in the heat of the moment but not one she is going to let go of any time soon. But first they must find somewhere to live...

After popular sitcom On the Buses was translated into a movie spin-off that was the most successful British film of its year, it was natural that a sequel be ordered, and thus Mutiny on the Buses was the result. It also did well, so well that a third movie instalment was rustled up, the legendary Holiday on the Buses, but what of the oft-neglected bridging effort between those two pillars of cinematic light entertainment? How did it stand up in comparison? Well, it was not quite the equal of its successor, but remained on a par with its previous production, with the same sense of humour and indeed many of the same jokes, centered around the cast's hapless endeavours to make their way in the world.

This time there was a hint that Stan's family were essentially self-serving and would never let him go, as they were very reluctant to loosen their grip on him when it turned out he might be flying the nest to get hitched. In truth, Susy makes such little impression on the plot, no more than the usual selection of dolly birds who paraded through the television series, that you'd be most surprised if her character lasted to the end of the film never mind into the sequel, and the screenwriters find themselves distracted from what was set up as the main plot at the beginning when Stan and Jack have trouble with the new manager (Kevin Brennan), who is a tyrant worse than the largely ineffectual Blakey.

As if to reassure the working class characters that they're not doing anything wrong in taking out the buses whenever they choose rather than when the timetable says so, it turns out the manager is a corrupt chap who has it away with one of the clippies, Norah (Pat Ashton); she had already had her eye on Stan's brother-in-law Arthur (Michael Robbins), much to the chagrin of wife Olive (Anna Karen). Olive and Arthur have the baby from the previous film, whose main contribution is queasy gags about shit and farting, even soiling Arthur's cap at one point. Why does Arthur have a cap? Because he has joined up with the bus company after being made redundant, fertile grounds for more antics.

With Stan teaching him to drive the buses so that Arthur can bring in more money to allow Stan to leave home to set up with Susy, you cannot say that this was not an involved plotline, but what your impression of this is a series of sketches slightly saucier than what they could get away with on television though very much in the same vein. This signals such reliable standbys as filling the depot with foam when a fire drill goes wrong, which of course means that almost every cast member sliipping right into it and getting covered. The piece of resistance is at the end where Stan, having blackmailed the manager to get the job, takes Blakey on a tour of Windsor Safari Park in a special bus, and are therefore terrified by a lion who gets in, then a pair of chimps who take the wheel. It's all crude and cheerful, nothing too taxing, and what you'd expect. Music by Ron Grainer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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