Bryan Forbes’ large-screen colour venture into the realms of black comedy is a story set in the Victorian era about two rival brothers (Ralph Richardson and John Mills) and their beneficiaries fighting it out to the death for the sake of the lottery fortune dangled between them.
Helping the irascible, poverty-stricken Masterman Finsbury (Mills) is his shy grandson Michael (Michael Caine).
Opposing them are his eccentric younger brother, Joseph Finsbury (Richardson), and a pair of greedy nephews, Morris (Peter Cook) and John (Dudley Moore).
Julia (Nanette Newman) is in love with Michael, and unbeknown to her, he also adores her.
Morris and John believe that Joseph is killed in a train crash and not wanting the authorities to find out, they ship home what they believe to be their uncle’s body – and hence Michael finds a coffin containing a perfect stranger on his doorstep.
Before you can shout ‘fratricide’, the landscape is cluttered with corpses, bumbling detectives (Tony Hancock) and a mad surgeon (Peter Sellers).
Based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, the film is rife with plots, counter-plots, mix-ups and a wild chase with lots of character cameos, gags, jokes and slapstick sequences amusingly tied together.
Brian Allen Harvey
Sydney Whitcombe Sykes
Ian Scott Fife
Alan Frazer Scrope
John Le Mesurier
Vyvyan Alistair Montague