On The Fiddle - DVD

Monday, 22 April 2013 00:00
Posted in Cult Movies on DVD
Written by 

On The Fiddle - out now on DVDYou can be forgiven for not ever hearing of “On The Fiddle”, a jolly jape of a movie from 1961. On the verge of international stardom, Sean Connery took one of the lead roles in this adaptation of R F Delderfield’s novel “Stop at a Winner”, scripted by Harold Buchman (the co-creator of TV lawyer Petrocelli). The story has a couple of lovable service dodgers becoming accidental heroes. It’s a measured performance from Connery, not portraying any of the facets that would come to the fore the following year when he made his debut as 007 in “Dr No”. It’s almost like he’s channelling Bernard Bresslaw in his approach.

The film has been the subject of a brand-new transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio (1.66:1). Its wartime setting does make the film appear older than it actually is, such is the accuracy of the era that it manages to encapsulate. You can imagine it having raised many a knowing chuckle amongst those in the original audience who recalled wartime, which was then only a couple of decades in the past. Veterans will no doubt feel the same when viewing it today.

Known as “Operation Snafu” in some territories (‘Situation Normal All F***ed Up’ – a well-known military acronym), the plot sees wide boy Horace Pope (Alfred Lynch) tricked into joining the RAF by a wily judge - he’s hoisted by his own petard when trying to manufacture a story to get himself out of doing jail time. But military service is no barrier to him continuing to set his sights on prosperous ventures. When he teams up with slow-witted, goodhearted gypsy Pedlar Pascoe (Connery), and works up a lucrative racket in conning both his colleagues and the RAF, via one outlandish scheme after another, they both seem to have it made (even though Horace takes the lion’s share of their bounties).

By means of various ‘cunning plans’, Pope and Pascoe manage to avoid the front lines, going from one lucrative domestic posting to another. All goes amiss when they cannot get out of an excursion to France, where they find themselves making unexpected and uncomfortably close contact with the enemy.

The supporting cast include some well-known faces. Wilfred Hyde-White plays Trowbridge, a batty publican, and there are roles for the likes of a pre-Dad’s Army John Le Mesurier, Stanley Holloway, Eric Barker, Kathleen Harrison, Graham Stark and Eleanor Summerfield.  There are also early parts for Miriam Karlin, Victor Maddern, Patsy Rowlands, Jack Smethurst, Barbara Windsor and Bill Owen. Uncredited in the cast list in blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em roles are Lance Percival, Liz Fraser, Marianne Stone, Ian Cullen and Arthur Mullard. It’s a positive feast of finger-clicking as you try to put names to the faces on view in every scene.

Directorial stalwart Cyril Frankel (known from many an ITC television production) takes the reins of the movie, with Malcolm Arnold providing the music (already an Oscar winner by this time for “The Bridge on the River Kwai” in 1957), and Peter Hunt (later to direct “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and to edit five Connery Bond movies, two of those as Second Unit Director) serves as the editor.

It’s a well-paced movie, full of lovable characters, situations that traverse the triumvirate of confusion, caddishness and slapstick, and has genuine warmth for its subject matter.  In lesser hands the jovial villains at the centre of the exploits could have been unsympathetic, but here we are cheering them on all the way.  It’s a feel-good film that only the stoniest of hearts would not want in their DVD collection.

“On the Fiddle” is a Network Distributing title and is out now.  It has a ‘PG’ certificate, a running time of 97 minutes approx, and a RRP of £9.99 – or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

denizli escort denizli escort