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  Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter A Dog's Life
Year: 1968
Director: Saul Swimmer
Stars: Peter Noone, Karl Green, Keith Hopwood, Derek Leckenby, Barry Whitwam, Stanley Holloway, Mona Washbourne, Lance Percival, Marjorie Rhodes, Sheila White, Sarah Caldwell, Hugh Futcher, Drewe Henley, Avis Bunnage, John Sharp, Lynda Baron, Joan Hickson
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Manchester, England, and Herman Tully (Peter Noone) has a big dream - no, not that his band is a huge success, but that his greyhound Mrs Brown will win many races at the track. However he needs money to keep up with the expenses, and hopes that his job will secure a promotion for him, except that when he goes to the meeting with the boss, he looks down on Herman and his mildly individualistic ways so opts to hire his rival instead, leaving the young entrepreneur without work. But there's always the band to fall back on...

Just as well for fans of Herman's Hermits, because that means there will be plenty of tunes here, although as it turned out they didn't actually sing them all. This was down to a colourful supporting cast of seasoned British character actors hogging the limelight, and let's face it taking care of the thespian duties thanks to the group not being exactly great at that sort of thing. That said, this was something of an improvement on the Hermits' previous movie, Hold On, a British Invasion cash-in that saw them somewhat all at sea in the middle of what amounted to an American promotional campaign.

Here their home nation was well represented, and the band should have counted themselves lucky that they did have another chance at screen stardom, even if this was plainly assembled to advertise the more lucrative soundtrack album. Hence the scrapbook quality to the story, a spot of comedy here, a cheery song there, a dollop of romance for that bit, all brought together in a film that was in truth something of a mess. But for nostalgists, not only did it have the tunes on the soundtrack, many written by Graham Gouldman of 10cc, but it also had the views of Britain of the day, some of it rather tourist-y, other parts more evocative of working class life.

The fact remained that this was still more interested in the dog than anything else, just as Herman is, although he brightens up when the daughter of the other Mrs Brown appears. That Brown family are led by Stanley Holloway who sees a business opportunity in both the greyhound and the band, so invites them down to London to make their fortune, whereupon Herman meets Judy (Sarah Caldwell in her only film), who is a model and from a different world from our heroes. There's an attraction there, but the film seems reluctant to have them united by the end, whether through class snobbery from either direction or because they preferred the alternative.

Which could have still been the same thing, given Herman's other love interest is Sheila White, who plays his next door neighbour and is obviously pining after him. Despite the oddly sad-eyed nature of the plot, the cast did their best to keep things jolly, as Lance Percival turned up as a gentleman of the road who for some reason Herman invites back to the home he shares with his grandma (Marjorie Rhodes) for a bowl of spaghetti. He is in the London scenes as well, but the lazily cobbled together look to the proceedings includes apparently everything the writer could conceive of to keep the running time up to ninety minutes - one scene will have the dog racing, the next the Hermits are jamming at a hippy nightclub in a most out of character development. The songs are better than those in Hold On, though No Milk Today didn't make the cut but A Kind of Hush did, so what you're left with is an artefact that was not intended to last down the ages, but has anyway.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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