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Films: B is for...

Bottoms Up!

Full-blown film version of Whack-O! (1956), which starred marvellously moustachioed Jimmy Edwards (massively bewhiskered as always to hide the plastic surgery he received after crash-landing his plane during the war) as the appalling headmaster of the equally dismal Chiselbury public school, somewhere in England. Extremely popular and hugely well regarded, the show centered on the efforts of Professor Edwards to chisel his feckless living of drinking and gambling out of the school, while fending off the efforts of the boys to chisel him in turn for whatever they could get. The result was the administering of several Daily Mail-pleasing whacks with the cane, hence the title of the show, and the pleasingly naive title of its spin-off. Typically films of sitcoms take the straight title of the show, lest any confusion arises in the minds of the audience as to why the entire cast of a popular telly programme has wandered onto the set of a film. All the shenanigans you might expect in a film centered around a school and its useless staff happen; government inspectors, angry parents, insufferable kids, hopeless teachers, all thrown together in an excellent mix of rather touchingly innocent fun as Edwards extorts, brutalises and nurtures his charges – all entirely against their will of course. The cast’s extraordinary too, with Raymond Huntley, Martita Hunt and an incredibly junior Richard Briers.

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