Friday, 15 March 2013

Barnacle Bill

1957 - Dir: Charles Friend - 1 hr 23 minutes
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 23rd March, 2013

By the time "Barnacle" Bill was released, Ealing Studios had already sold off its physical studio (to the BBC) and was about to shut down altogether. After so many great films in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Ealing couldn’t adapt to changing times. But it went out doing what it did best and this is a typical Ealing film. There’s a group of very British, eccentric characters in an outlandish situation and they take it all with superhuman control. It’s all been done before, and done before by Ealing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun. Alec Guinness puts in another top notch performance - perhaps with a bit more gusto than normal. The supporting cast is excellent (when has an Ealing film ever had a weak supporting cast?), the characters, particularly Ambrose, are engaging, and the story presents plenty of opportunity for witty banter and comfortable chuckles. It might not be the most hilarious side splitter - but it does give us a final fond look at a world before every movie had to be a blockbuster. It was titled "All at Sea" in the USA.... because the studios feared it would be associated with a lewd seafarers’ song entitled "Bollocky Bill The Sailor".

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