THE AMOROUS PRAWN
UK, 1962, 89 minutes, Black and white.
Ian Carmichael, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Dennis Price, Robert Beatty, Liz Fraser, Finlay Currie, Derek Nimmo, Michael Ripper.
Directed by Anthony Kimmins.
The Amorous Prawn is a cross between the old Ealing Studios comedies and the Carry On series. On the serious Ealing side the film is set in a Scottish castle, the headquarters of British North- West Military. The retiring general, played by Cecil Parker in his usual style, with his wife Joan Greenwood, with her usual gravely voice, want to transfer to a house in Dorset but the Ministry of Defence will not grant them the truck to take their furniture. The decision is made while the general is away to use the castle as a holiday resort for American fishermen. Needless to say, the general arrives back before all is sorted out, complies with the plan – with the connivance of Ian Carmichael as the corporal and the staff which include Liz Fraser and Derek Nimmo as the chef. In the meantime, the laird is worried about poachers (Finlay Currie). At the end, the Minister for Overseas Services turns up, wanting a holiday away anonymously with his girlfriend. He is played by Dennis Price. When he threatens to expose the scam, the staff at the castle have evidence of his girlfriend and so then can blackmail him to get the truck for the move.
Typically British humour, some of it farcical, some of it a touch witty – but much of it farcical, people changing into uniforms and out of uniforms a great deal, mistaken identities and some Carry On humour.
The film was directed by actor comedian Nicholas Phipps in collaboration with the director, Anthony Kimmins, best known for some films of the 1940s including Mine Own Executioner and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Some of his fifty films include The Captain’s Paradise, Aunt Clara and the two Australian films featuring Smiley.
1.The popular image of British comedy? The Ealing Studios tradition of wit and eccentric characters? The Carry On series and farce? A combination of both?
2.The Scottish settings, the black and white photography, the castle? The musical score and its jaunty tone?
3.The opening credits, the literal cartoons? Prawn and his identity, his concealing his identity?
4.The military situation, the introduction to the general, the farewell, his going home, his relationship with Lady Dodo? His going to the Pacific? The plan for his retirement, getting the money for the house, transferring the furniture? His going on his mission? His sudden return? The lateness of the cable? His participating in the plot? The typical Cecil Parker character? The exposure at the end? Lady Dodo, Joan Greenwood, her style, her voice? Her cajoling her husband? Her decision about renting the house? The collaboration of the military staff? As hostess, Larry Hoffman and his being attracted to her, chasing to her, proposing? Her dealing with the ministry, with the local military? Her adapting to the situation, with her husband?
5.Prawn, the Whitehall official, his double dealings, friends with the Americans, the girlfriend coming in? His getting the information by phone, the letter of the law? His being blackmailed? (And the film being released a year before the Profumo scandal?)
6.Sidney Green, the corporal, in charge of the staff, the various members of the staff, Huggin and his drinking, Suzie and her flirtatious attitudes, Biddy and the attraction towards Maltravers, Maltravers as the temperamental chef? Comic characters?
7.Finlay Currie as the laird, his assistant? Worrying about poachers? The traps, the explosions, the final attack?
8.The Americans, Goulansky and his continued flirtation? Larry, ringing his mother in San Francisco, attracted to Dodo, the proposal, the chase?
9.The comings and goings, changing costume, mistaken identities? Farcical aspects? The military listening in to the phone calls, their speculations and conspiracy theories, coming to the rescue?
10.The popularity of this kind of stiff-upper-lip British farce?