Charwoman Mrs Cragg (Peggy Mount) retrieves a discarded cigar from the wastepaper basket of city tycoon James Ryder (Harry H Corbett) and presents it wrapped in a crumpled telegram to Colonel Whitworth (Robert Morley), a retired army officer living in very reduced circumstances and lodging at Mrs Cragg’s home.
Sensitive commercial information contained in the telegram leads the penniless Colonel to buy some shares and make a cool five thousand pounds.
The honest Colonel shares the proceeds with Mrs Cragg, who rounds up a few other char ladies who also clean up carelessly discarded paperwork and, with a bit of discerning analysis, they are soon wheeling and dealing on the stock market like experts.
They set up a company called Ladezudo (“ladies who do”, so they can save their homes on Pitt Street from demolition by Ryder.
The supporting cast is superb, including Jon Pertwee, Nigel Davenport, Dandy Nichols, Miriam Karlin, Graham Stark, Cardew Robinson, Avril Elgar, Arthur Mullard and John Laurie.
This classic British comedy was made in 1962 by the ailing British Lion company but the release was shelved until early 1964. It’s still a charming, funny film – and a first-rate social history to boot.
Harry H. Corbett