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Films: M is for...

Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins, The

Look out chaps, it’s one of those portmanteau comedy jobbies – commissioned by a studio executive wanting something vague featuring “lots of comedians and saucy girls”, a rag-bag of loosely-connected sketches from disparate writers, with the lack of plot papered over with one of those all-star casts that always signal turkeydom, and directed by… Graham ‘the second banana’s second banana’ Stark? Yes, and it’s a good’un, too.

Not all the seven segments come up trumps. Two that never provoke more than gentle grins are Gluttony and Envy, respectively featuring Leslie Phillips as a compulsive eater and Harry Secombe as a property hunting pools winner (just how many films featured Secombe as a pools winner, exactly? He seemed to be claiming once a year in the flicks). The final Wrath segment, with Arthur ‘Whack-O!’ Howard and Ronald Fraser being annoyed by Stephen Lewis’s park keeper, is not too bad, but it’s just more Blakey shtick on the big screen, and if we want that we’ll watch Holiday on the Buses, ta.

The rest, though, are rather good. Standouts include lusty batchelor Harry H Corbett using all means necessary to get a date, only to be cruelly humiliated via the medium of the payphone; chauffeur Bruce Forsyth searching London’s sewers for his avaricious boss’ mislaid 50p piece, attracting a line of penny-chasing followers along the way including Bernard Bresslaw, Roy Hudd and Joan Sims; and Spike Milligan’s demented silent film homage to Sloth (“I’d like to save you but I can’t let go of my walnuts!”) with Ronnie Barker, Marty Feldman, Madeline Smith and Melvyn Hayes variously not being arsed in black and white.

The best segment of all, ironically enough for a sketch show on film, comes straight off the telly, as Galton and Simpson rework a forgotten Comedy Playhouse entry to illustrate Pride, with Ian Carmichael’s regal Bentley and Alfie Bass’ clapped out Morris meeting halfway down a narrow country lane and each resolutely refusing to back up for the other. When the AA and RAC turn up (the former in the guise of Robert Gillespie), taking the sides you’d expect, a measuring tape-fuelled class war ensues. Throw in Bob Godfrey’s droll animated links and you’ve got a film tailor made for a lost TV afternoon.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. televisualcabbage

    February 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Ah, but got a copy on DVD! A nice cheap Channel Four filler for that slot just before Countdown, but also RIP Ian Carmichael as well…

    The nadir of the early 70’s film… See also Can You Keep It Up For a Week etc, etc….
    Like greed, good but only in small doses…

  2. DanielNothing

    February 8, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    They DO show it frequently on the actually rather interesting and underrated Film 24 (Sky 157).

  3. Lee James Turnock

    April 8, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I found it pretty much a laugh-free zone, and a waste of all the talent involved. Milligan’s segment was easily the best, and mostly because it was unusual rather than actually funny.

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