Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Orders are Orders.

Lieutenant Wilfred Cartroad.
Tony Hancock's debut feature film was a movie that could easily have been a feature length episode of an upcoming British sitcom The Army Game which ran on ITV - on a Friday night if I remember correctly - from 1957 until 1961 the movie even had one the Game headliners Bill Fraser starring, but in the film he was not coupled with Alfie Bass but Peter Sellers.

In David Paltenghi’s British comedy film Orders are Orders (1954), which was a remake of the 1933 film Orders is Orders, Hancock played Lieutenant Wilfred Cartroad the harassed leader of the regimental band. The 1954 version also starred Sid James who teamed up with Hancock in what is still one of the Britain's finest comedy programmes. Broadcast as Hancock’s Half Hour from1954 on the radio and concurrently on BBC television for a period of seven years. It was Hancock that carried the series virtually playing himself in this hilarious situation comedy, Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock lived at   "23 Railway Cuttings" in East Cheam, and the humour was generated from the characters and the circumstances in which they found themselves.

Paltenghi was a British ballet dancer, choreographer, director and film director who directed two other films in the mid fifties. Orders are Orders is about an American film production company led by Ed Waggermeyer - James with an American accent - who take over a British Army Camp to make a science fiction movie using the camps soldiers as extras. Obviously the encampments commanding officer (Raymond Huntley) is none to keen on the arrangement and attempts to make life as difficult as possible, that is until Wanda Sinclair (Margot Grahame), Waggermeyer assistant, woes our commanding officer.
Bill Fraser, Sid James and Peter Sellers.

The film also gives early roles to Sellers, Eric Sykes and Donald Pleasance and is at best amusing but certainly worth a look to see 'the lad himself' in his debut movie. We had to wait another seven years to see him in his second feature film The Rebel (1961). It was between these two movies that Hancock was at the peak of his career but only a further seven years before his suicide on the 25th June 1968 in Australia – a massive loss to British comedy.

The Lad Himself, one of Britain's best comedians. 

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