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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.

11 Comments

11 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.

  4. Dermot O'Logical

    June 19, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Is it me, or does Ian Carmichael look most unexpectedly like Eddie Waring in that still?

  5. Droogie

    June 23, 2020 at 3:31 am

    The Harry H Corbett segment is heartbreaking! It’s like a remake of The Bedsitter episode of Hancocks Half Hour but even more grim with Corbett as a rubbish pick-up artist trying to get lucky on a Saturday night. Interesting shots of the London tube too back when you could smoke in the carriages.

  6. richardpd

    June 23, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Sounds like an interesting hotch potch of a film, sketch films can be a mixed bag at the best of times, as Monty Python found out.

  7. Droogie

    June 23, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    One of my favourites is Guide For The Married Man starring Walter Matthau and directed by Gene Kelly. Matthau plays a married man considering an affair and is taught cautionary tales by best friend Robert Morse which are illustrated by a series of comedy sketches. The film has a fab Mad Men look about it and an all star cast appearing in the sketches. Groovy theme by The Turtles Too.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    June 25, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Ever get the impression Stephen Lewis could do a good version of Hitler near the end of his life as he looks like a haggard version of Hitler in the photo above?

  9. droogie

    June 25, 2020 at 11:43 pm

    That Downfall speech once again in the bunker, but with Blakey as Hitler. “I hate you Stalin!” etc. I recall hearing how On The Buses repeats were very popular in Eastern Europe In the 70’s due to folk tecognising Blakey as Hitler and bring the worst kind of officious boss.

    • Glenn Aylett

      June 26, 2020 at 1:16 pm

      On The Buses was also shown in communist countries to show how drab and unpleasant life was for the working class in the capitalist West and Blakey being an example of capitalist exploitation. Certainly the drab, overcrowded terraced house Stan Butler had to share with his family never looked like fun.

      • richardpd

        June 26, 2020 at 11:19 pm

        My Dad can vouch for this as my parents honeymoon was in Yugoslavia in 1971.

        Once evening they were in a bar & On The Buses just happened to be on the TV, which the locals found hilarious.

        I guess they couldn’t get away with that level of cheek towards authority figures.

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