Spare A Copper It is likely that few people outside the UK will have heard of George Formby – indeed even in the UK there will not be many under the age of 50 who are familiar with his work. And yet in his day Formby was a star of quite considerable magnitude, capable of earning colossal sums by the standards of the day. His films follow a fairly standard pattern. He is always depicted as a somewhat gormless character pursuing some great aspiration (in this film it is to join the Police ‘flying squad’) He meets calamity and despair but eventually triumphs and wins the girl. Along the way of course there are always plenty of opportunities to pick up his ukulele and sing a song. His comedy songs may be tame by today’s measure but in the 1930s and 40s would have been quite risqué – in this film have a particular listen to the lyrics of ‘I Wish I Was Back On The Farm’.
Little if any of the British film comedy of this era now finds its way onto DVD or TV which is a shame as contemporary American material (e.g. Laurel and Hardy, Marx Brothers, Abbot and Costello)is much more appreciated and given air time.What is particularly interesting about Formby’s films is their Northern England working class settings and a glimpse of ‘ordinary’life they provide.
This is a movie with a largely irrelevant plot but a cheerful little vehicle for Formby’s well-trodden formula. Watch out for Bernard Lee in an early role as one of the villains – he appeared in the Bond movies as ‘M’.