If you’ve ever wondered how Monty Python‘s “Upper-Class Twit of the Year” sketch would fare at feature-length, this scattershot comedy from Michael Winner will give you a pretty good idea.
The premise – five soldiers set loose on swinging England in an initiative test to collect a selection of esoteric items and perform various unlikely tasks – is basically sound.
The objects the five men have to secure are naturally of an obscure variety – all the better to send them careering across London to get some plaster flying ducks or the emblem from a Rolls-Royce, with an especially tricky example for the piece de resistance.
The trouble is, there are too many different tests, and the slapstick solutions to them soon try the patience.
The creator of this plan is Major Foskett (Terry-Thomas), who had been requested to conjure up an aptitude test to run as a contest between various regiments of the Army, including a man from the United States Air Force base in the area.
The winner is, of course, the American Lieutenant Tim Morton (Michael Callan), who uses his success to resign his commission and make off with the film star Sylvie Tarnet (Patricia Viterbo).
Close behind are Captain Tabasco of the Guards (Denholm Elliott), who uses his wealth and his girlfriends to aid him, and Staff Sergeant Mansfield (Lee Montague), who forges Army requisitions and succeeds in getting his General arrested for theft.
Next comes Sergeant Major McGregor (Lionel Jeffries), whose trophies are snatched by Sergeant Clegg (Bernard Cribbins), who succeeds in taking the 48 hours to tunnel out of the maze.
American import leading man Michael Callan was a song and dance exponent best known for his more serious roles in film until efforts such as these turned around his career, and he ended up in light comedy on television. Elliott and Jeffries go flat out for laughs, but with a little more gag selectivity on the part of Winner, they would not have had to work quite so hard.
Leeds beat group The Cherokees appear as themselves.
Lt. Tim Morton
Sgt. Maj. McGregor
James Robertson Justice