Skip to main content

The Reverend Thomas says you wet his trousers.

Double Bunk

(SPOILERS) In casting terms, Double Bunk could be a sequel to the previous year’s magnificent School for Scoundrels. This time, Ian Carmichael and Janette Scott (he still almost twice her age) are wedded, and the former continues to make dumb choices. Despite being an unlikely mechanic, Carmichael allows himself to be sold a lemon of a houseboat; last time it was the Nifty Nine. And Dennis Price is once again on hand, trying to fleece him in various ways. Indeed, the screenplay might not be a patch on School for Scoundrels, but with Sid James and the fabulous Liz Fraser also on board, the casting can’t be faulted.

Although, enlisting Sid and Liz to sing the theme song wasn’t such a fine move, even if elicits a classic Sid “Ra-ha-ha” at the finish. Fraser and James make for a perfectly matched couple. One is cast for her pulchritude (she plays Sandra – “You wouldn’t think by looking at her that she’s one of the best strippers in the business” – and spends much of the proceedings in a bikini). The other for his trademark allurement to said pulchritude. In that respect, CM Pennington-Richards’ movie isn’t too far from the Carry Ons both actors were appearing in at that point, but Double Bunk is generally much less focussed on the lewd and much more on the gentle ineptitude that characterises your typical Carmichael vehicle.

Which makes it a surprise that Sid (as Sid) is Jack’s (Carmichael) friend, rather than someone out to con him. Lest you assume James has been cast totally out of character, though, he is a used-car salesman and definitely as dodgy as you’d expect from James. Jack and Peggy (Scott, as ever, sweetly pretty) succumb to the charms of the houseboat when owners Reginald Beckwith and Irene Handl manage to palm it off (some too easy haggling lowers the price from £1100 to £750 – about £17,000 in today’s money). Alas, their prospective cheap-and-cheerful honeymoon rather falls apart when the roof springs a leak. Once Sid and Jack have fixed the engine – during which Peggy falls in the local drink – Sid suggests he captains the boat so they can enjoy a relaxing second honeymoon. What could possibly go wrong, particularly when Sid shows up with Sandra (Fraser)?

Price is Mr Watson, owner of a yacht and Peggy and Jack’s mooring (he attempts to charge them more than £5 a week for it – about £100 today). Various larks ensue during their trip, including reprimands for going too fast and causing a wash. When the Thames Conservancy Officers come on board and Peggy asks “Would you like a little something?" – referring to a tipple – Bill Shine, fixated on Sandra, replies “Oh, yes please”. Ra-ha-ha. Terry Scott later surfaces as a river policeman and is similarly impressed: “I don’t know about green belt. Take a look at her in white”. Ra-ha-ha!

Jack: Can you cook?
Sid: Are you kidding? I can’t even boil water.

Owing to Jack messing up the compass, an intended jaunt to Ramsgate (“You know, I did a strip show there once”) lands them in Calais. They’re barred from going ashore and also prevented from returning home (having run out of fuel). They also have no food. Luckily, Watson has berthed there too, hosting a stag trip with a lot of chums. Unluckily, he refuses to help them. So while Sandra puts on a striptease for the bawdy stag party (Ra-ha-ha!), Jack and Sid appropriate some valuable fuel. And champagne and caviar (an aside to this is that Sid appears entirely unaware of vodka’s inebriating properties and gets completely sloshed in about five minutes).

Watson: Call yourself a skipper? You couldn’t drive a bus!
O’Malley: Couldn’t drive a bus? Didn’t I drive one for four years from Dublin to Dondaicha? And back! And hardly a crash at all.

Naturally, there’s a need for a big finale. So Watson challenges Jack to a race home, double or nothing for Jack in rent as the wager. En route are mishaps on both sides, as Captain O’Malley (Noel Purcell, Noah in The AvengersA Surfeit of H2O) becomes affronted and then intoxicated, and the houseboat springs a leak (Sid: Get hold of that and wiggle it; Sandra: Alright, if you say so. Sandra proceeds to wiggle it. Ra-ha-ha!)

There’s nothing very singular about Pennington-Richard’s movie, then. He began as a cinematographer before moving into directing (mostly TV) and performed double duties on Double Bunk, writing its screenplay. Also appearing is Miles Malleson as a vicar (one of his go-to types). There's a solid gold mistaken photo gag – “She’s got a bit of flat bottom, ain’t she?” says Sid, looking at one of the houseboat. Jack thinks he’s talking about Peggy. Sid then sees her actual photo and responds “What a cracker!” Ra-ha-ha! Naturally, Jack and Peggy manage to offload the hulk at the end. Double Bunk is mostly charming for the reliable main quartet (quintet, if you include Price). Undemanding but very amiable.

Popular posts from this blog

Abandon selective targeting. Shoot everything.

28 Weeks Later (2007) (SPOILERS) The first five minutes of 28 Weeks Later are far and away the best part of this sequel, offering in quick succession a devastating moral quandary and a waking nightmare, immortalised on the screen. After that, while significantly more polished, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo reveals his concept to be altogether inferior to Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s, falling back on the crutches of gore, nihilism, and disengaging and limiting shifts of focus between characters in whom one has little investment in the first place.

If this were a hoax, would we have six dead men up on that mountain?

The X-Files 4.24: Gethsemane   Season Four is undoubtedly the point at which the duff arc episodes begin to amass, encroaching upon the decent ones for dominance. Fortunately, however, the season finale is a considerable improvement’s on Three’s, even if it’s a long way from the cliffhanger high of 2.25: Anasazi .

The Bible never said anything about amphetamines.

The Color of Money (1986) (SPOILERS) I tend to think it’s evident when Scorsese isn’t truly exercised by material. He can still invest every ounce of the technical acumen at his fingertips, and the results can dazzle on that level, but you don’t really feel the filmmaker in the film. Which, for one of his pictures to truly carry a wallop, you need to do. We’ve seen quite a few in such deficit in recent years, most often teaming with Leo. The Color of Money , however, is the first where it was out-and-out evident the subject matter wasn’t Marty’s bag. He needed it, desperately, to come off, but in the manner a tradesman who wants to keep getting jobs. This sequel to The Hustler doesn’t linger in the mind, however good it may be, moment by moment.

Captain, he who walks in fire will burn his feet.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) (SPOILERS) Ray Harryhausen returns to the kind of unadulterated fantasy material that made Jason and the Argonauts such a success – swords & stop motion, if you like. In between, there were a couple of less successful efforts, HG Wells adaptation First Men in the Moon and The Valley of the Gwangi (which I considered the best thing ever as a kid: dinosaur walks into a cowboy movie). Harryhausen’s special-effects supremacy – in a for-hire capacity – had also been consummately eclipsed by Raquel Welch’s fur bikini in One Million Years B.C . The Golden Voyage of Sinbad follows the expected Dynamation template – blank-slate hero, memorable creatures, McGuffin quest – but in its considerable favour, it also boasts a villainous performance by nobody-at-the-time, on-the-cusp-of-greatness Tom Baker.

Your desecration of reality will not go unpunished.

2021-22 Best-of, Worst-of and Everything Else Besides The movies might be the most visible example of attempts to cling onto cultural remnants as the previous societal template clatters down the drain. It takes something people really want – unlike a Bond movie where he kicks the can – to suggest the model of yesteryear, one where a billion-dollar grosser was like sneezing. You can argue Spider-Man: No Way Home is replete with agendas of one sort or another, and that’s undoubtedly the case (that’s Hollywood), but crowding out any such extraneous elements (and they often are) is simply a consummate crowd-pleaser that taps into tangible nostalgia through its multiverse take. Of course, nostalgia for a mere seven years ago, for something you didn’t like anyway, is a symptom of how fraught these times have become.

Out of my way, you lubberly oaf, or I’ll slit your gullet and shove it down your gizzard!

The Princess and the Pirate (1944) (SPOILERS) As I suggested when revisiting The Lemon Drop Kid , you’re unlikely to find many confessing to liking Bob Hope movies these days. Even Chevy Chase gets higher approval ratings. If asked to attest to the excruciating stand-up comedy Hope, the presenter and host, I doubt even diehards would proffer an endorsement. Probably even fewer would admit to having a hankering for Hope, were they aware of, or further still gave credence to, alleged MKUltra activities. But the movie comedy Hope, the fourth-wall breaking, Road -travelling quipster-coward of (loosely) 1939-1952? That Hope’s a funny guy, mostly, and many of his movies during that period are hugely inventive, creative comedies that are too easily dismissed under the “Bob Hope sucks” banner. The Princess and the Pirate is one of them.

My hands hurt from galloping.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) (SPOILERS) Say what you like about the 2016 reboot, at least it wasn’t labouring under the illusion it was an Amblin movie. Ghostbusters 3.5 features the odd laugh, but it isn’t funny, and it most definitely isn’t scary. It is, however, shamelessly nostalgic for, and reverential towards, the original(s), which appears to have granted it a free pass in fan circles. It didn’t deserve one.

I think it’s wonderful the way things are changing.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989) (SPOILERS) The meticulous slightness of Driving Miss Daisy is precisely the reason it proved so lauded, and also why it presented a prime Best Picture pick: a feel-good, social-conscience-led flick for audiences who might not normally spare your standard Hollywood dross a glance. One for those who appreciate the typical Judi Dench feature, basically. While I’m hesitant to get behind anything Spike Lee, as Hollywood’s self-appointed race-relations arbiter, spouts, this was a year when he actually did deliver the goods, a genuinely decent movie – definitely a rarity for Lee – addressing the issues head-on that Driving Miss Daisy approaches in softly-softly fashion, reversing gingerly towards with the brake lights on. That doesn’t necessarily mean Do the Right Thing ought to have won Best Picture (or even that it should have been nominated for the same), but it does go to emphasise the Oscars’ tendency towards the self-congratulatory rather than the provocat

I’ve heard the dancing’s amazing, but the music sucks.

Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021) (SPOILERS) At one point in Tick, Tick… Boom! – which really ought to have been the title of an early ’90s Steven Seagal vehicle – Andrew Garfield’s Jonathan Larson is given some sage advice on how to find success in his chosen field: “ On the next, maybe try writing about what you know ”. Unfortunately, the very autobiographical, very-meta result – I’m only surprised the musical doesn’t end with Larson finishing writing this musical, in which he is finishing writing his musical, in which he is finishing writing his musical… – takes that acutely literally.

Who gave you the crusade franchise? Tell me that.

The Star Chamber (1983) (SPOILERS) Peter Hyams’ conspiracy thriller might simply have offered sauce too weak to satisfy, reining in the vast machinations of an all-powerful hidden government found commonly during ’70s fare and substituting it with a more ’80s brand that failed to include that decade’s requisite facile resolution. There’s a good enough idea here – instead of Charles Bronson, it’s the upper echelons of the legal system resorting to vigilante justice – but The Star Chamber suffers from a failure of nerve, repenting its premise just as it’s about to dig into the ramifications.