Long before he donned an ill-fitting rug and stepped gamely into the tape-measure-wielding breach when Mr Grainger no longer found himself free, James Hayter took his blustering, mumbling gentlemen’s club demeanour and spread it liberally over as fine a cross-section of pre-Woodfall British filmdom as you could expect to dig up in the BFI’s bins. Here you’ll find a brace of military types going red(der) in the face in such films as Radar invention romp School for Secrets, top antiquarian comic folderol in the Ustinov-directed Vice Versa, and a strong suit in Dickensian jollies from Nicholas Nickleby through Oliver! to The Pickwick Papers. Pass the port.
FINEST HOUR: ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps… is an organisation… which makes exceedingly good cakes.’ That’s how it goes, isn’t it?