No Kidding (1960) – Film Review
Director: Gerald Thomas
Cast: Leslie Phillips, Geraldine McEwan, Irene Handl
by Sarah Morgan
Based on a novel called Beware of Children (the name the film went by in the US) by Verily Anderson, No Kidding could equally have been entitled Carry On Children. Okay, so none of the actors you readily associate with the much-loved British movie series appear – although Leslie Phillips featured in three early entries, Nurse, Teacher and Constable – it was produced by Peter Rogers and directed by Gerald Thomas, the brains behind the Carry Ons.
Much of the humour is in a similar vein to those early entries, gentle and uncomplicated. It also relies heavily on the charm of its cast. Phillips shares lead duties with Geraldine McEwan. They play husband-and-wife team David and Catherine Robinson, a couple in financial difficulties who plan to sell the large country house they have inherited.
However, they hit on a money-making scheme – to transform the place into a holiday home for boarding school children whose wealthy parents will pay a premium to have their offspring off their hands during the summer. The Robinsons take in 10 such youngsters, all of whom have very particular issues or personality traits.
One is a teenage nymphette, there’s a couple of brash Americans, the reserved child of a nouveau riche, loudmouthed businessman, two African girls, the sons of a foreign diplomat, an aristocrat’s daughter (a teenage Francesca Annis in an early role) and a traumatised little boy (Martin Stephens, better known for his horror roles in The Village of the Damned and The Innocents) whose mother has abandoned the family.
Irene Handl, for once not playing a dotty old lady, pops up as the alderman who wants to close the place down, while Joan Hickson portrays the alcoholic cook – how she keeps her job is something of a mystery.
But threatening to steal the entire show is Noel Purcell as Tandy, the handyman and all-round dogsbody who also isn’t a stranger to the demon drink. The only bum note is supplied by future pop star Mike Sarne as a French latecomer, complete with appalling accent and supposedly sophisticated ways.
What unfolds holds no surprises. Of course Handl’s character gets nowhere and the children enthusiastically endorse their temporary carers, ensuring the home’s success. But it doesn’t matter because it’s all rather charming.
Sadly, apart from a trailer, there are no special features to enjoy, but the transfer from celluloid to Blu-ray is impressive; it all looks sharp and crisp, as if it had been shot yesterday.
‘No Kidding’ is released on Blu-ray by Network, £11.50