Dir: Gerald Thomas
Star: Harry H. Corbett, Jim Dale, Kenneth Williams, Fenella Fielding
This was another one remembered fondly from my youth: the monstrous Odbodd and the sultry Fenella Fielding both disturbed me…in different ways. Now, neither have much power, and the whole film comes over as nowhere near as good as I remember it. Corbett, as Sergeant Bung, is clearly filling in for Sid James, and though he has his moments, the gulf remains clear. He is investigating a string of missing women, eventually tracing them to Dr. Watt (Williams) and his sister (Fielding), whose bizarre scientific experiments are funded by their sale of tailor’s dummies made from the vanished women. Most of the regulars are present too: Joan Sims as Bung’s shrewish wife, Bernard Bresslaw playing the Watt’s butler and Charles Hawtrey as Dan Dan the Lavatory Man, as well as future Dr. Who, Jon Pertwee.
The target is clearly the Hammer horror style, and it does a decent job of capturing that. But the script is actually not that well-written, relying heavily on some groan-inducing puns, and a shameless theft from Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First? routine. Truth be told, it took me three attempts to get through this: I simply fell asleep in the middle, and that’s where the main weakness of the movie lies. Once it establishes the premise and characters, there’s nowhere much to go, and the film marks time, grinding almost painfully and generally unamusingly, for the next hour, until a decent finale. Once again, not as good as I remembered it, at all.