This endearing comedy attempted to transfer comedian Charlie Drake’s style of humour to the big screen.
Despite being co-writer Drake’s finest screen appearance, The Cracksman mixes slapstick and pathos and is merely funny in parts. One bonus is the film’s collection of popular character actors including George Sanders, Dennis Price and Finlay Currie.
Ernest Wright (Charlie Drake), an honest East End locksmith that cannot resist the challenge of a lock, is tricked by debonair confidence man Grantley (Dennis Price) into opening a locked car and a safe. Later he gets tricked again by a damsel in distress and, this time gets three years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
In prison he picks locks easily to get seed for a fellow prisoner’s budgerigars – there’s an amusing pop at The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) as Drake nearly provokes a mass breakout in his search for birdseed – and as a result of his exploits, two rival gangs, the Guv’nor (George Sanders) and American crook Domino (Eddie Byrne), seek his services and finally agree to employ him jointly.
The two rival gangs plan to steal the Stamford Collection of Fine Gems from the Prince Edward Museum, but Drake and an undercover policewoman trip up the crooks and bring them to justice.
This is far and away Drake’s finest hour on the big screen.
Nyree Dawn Porter
George A Cooper
Peter Graham Scott