Man About The House (1974) – Film Review
Director: John Robins
Cast: Richard O’Sullivan, Paula Wilcox, Sally Thomsett
by Sarah Morgan
Although I’ve been increasingly feeling my age of late, I’m too young to remember the original run of Man About the House. Instead, I was a keen viewer of one of its spin-offs, George and Mildred; to me, Richard O’Sullivan will always be Dick Turpin rather than chef Robin Tripp, the aforementioned man about the house (actually it’s a flat).
Thankfully, casual viewers don’t need much in the way of backstory to get the gist of the film version, which was released in 1974, one of a spate of sitcoms to get the big screen treatment.
This one was made by Hammer Films, who are best known for their horror films, but had a long history of making movies out of projects from other media; in the 1940s they produced three Dick Barton films based on the long-running radio serial and went on to turn TV phenomenon Quatermass into three highly successful big screen offerings.
Man About the House was the last of their TV-to-film outings; it was preceded by Love Thy Neighbour, That’s Your Funeral, Nearest and Dearest and a trilogy of On the Buses movies – no doubt those that haven’t already had a lavish Blu-ray release will soon be treated to one.
“Fun to be had in watching the interplay”
The usual gang are all in place – O’Sullivan is joined by Paula Wilcox and Sally Thomsett as Robin’s flatmates Jo and Chrissy, with Brian Murphy and the superb Yootha Joyce as their landlords, the Ropers.
The instantly forgettable plot involves the possible sale of the row of Edwardian terraced houses the gang call home – a property developer wants to pull the lot down and build a swanky office block instead. The younger trio attempt to put a stop to it, while George would prefer to cash in – to Mildred’s disgust.
We’re introduced to their motley group of neighbours and there are some rather lacklustre gags that haven’t stood the test of time. But there is fun to be had in watching the interplay of the stars while spotting the huge number of British character actors in supporting roles, from Johnny Briggs to Bill Pertwee and Bill Maynard to Arthur Lowe.
The best moment of all, however, comes when Spike Milligan pops up as himself for no apparent reason. He’s wonderfully surreal – what a shame he wasn’t used more.
Sadly, apart from the theatrical trailer, there are no special features to enjoy; a documentary featuring interviews with the four surviving central stars would have gone down a treat.
‘Man About The House’ is released on Blu-Ray by Network, £11.70