Today’s movie is/was I'm All Right Jack. This is the kind of movie I would never have found on my own. And I’m not altogether sure I should have found it.
It’s a light British comedy starring Ian Carmichael and Peter Sellers. It’s leans more toward unsubtle juvenile farce than something with more style and wit. But it does have its moments.
Stanley Windrush (Ian Carmichael) is an honest, if not terribly successful, member of the English aristocracy. He’s an idle man and his uncle, Bertram Tracepurcel, has it mind for him to get a job. And here’s where I got a bit lost. Windrush tries out for a number of executive positions (he’s an Oxford man, after all, and this opens all doors). But he’s ill-suited to any of the companies if only because he won’t settle down into his role to shut up and manage and not think too much about things.
I’d have to return to the beginning of this movie again to figure out how this plot element was inserted. It seemed rather ill-formed at the time. But it becomes the idea after multiple failures in his job interviews to get Windrush a position amongst the common workers and forget about a management position.
Windrush gets a job at a factory that makes missiles and that has just received a large order from an unnamed Middle Eastern country. (Looks like Egypt.) Windrush, who is actually a competent man of at least average intelligence, does not fit in with the union workers. Windrush can’t quite get used to the union ways of doing as little as possible.
It turns out that Windrush has (I think) been intentionally placed at this factory as a means to cause a strike. The head of the missile factory is conspiring with the owner of another factory and with the Middle Eastern buyer. If they can get a work stoppage they can get the contract moved over to Richard Attenborough’s factory and the three will split the extra rush charges of 100,000 pounds. The subtle ways they bait Sellers (the union boss) into calling a strike are some of the best moments.
Although you could say the movie balances things with parodies and send-ups of both the unions and management, it’s the unions who take most of the spoofing. Sellers, as the sober-suited union boss, chooses a low-key approach which is sometimes very funny. But mostly this is the type of movie where you’ll get a low chortle at times and that’s about it. The one exception was the one union worker with the stutter. He would be appearing to try to stutter out a very bad word but instead of “fu- fu-“ being what you think is coming, it finally comes out “photograph.” He does this a couple times and it’s hilarious.
There are also some good lines interspersed such at the line about Seller’s gorgeous built-like-a-brick-shithouse blonde daughter. He tells his wife how she isn’t fully developed. “Not fully developed!” exclaims the wife. Sellers tells her he is talking about her intellectual development.
The movie ends fairly badly. Actually, it does have an ending with Windrush telling off both sides on a British “argument” program. But then it proceeds to something else that, I guess, circles the picture back to where it started and into meaningless farce. It makes some sort of sense but it lost the opportunity to be concise and witty. Still, this is a pretty good example of that certain style of low-key slightly juvenile British comedy that I don’t know the name for. There are classic elements to it and film aficionados might want to take this one in.