Four relatives of a recently-deceased horrible old practical joker (Hugh Griffith) are each set to receive a substantial sum of money in his will, but only if they fulfil certain outrageous conditions.
A stony-faced spinster (Fay Compton) – renowned for her acid tongue and sadistic treatment of her servants – must, in order to reap her share of the old joker’s fortune, work as a maid in a middle-class home. If she’s fired, she is cut out of the will.
A timid bank clerk (George Cole), a slick ne’er do well gambler and playboy (Guy Middleton), and a very proper ex-army officer who furtively writes blood and thunder tales under a variety of names, are meted out similarly distasteful sentences.
Films made up of interwoven stories are notoriously difficult to do well, as it’s all too easy either to lose the thread of the difficult episodes or to become impatient with the less substantial ones.
Director Mario Zampi nearly brings off the trick here, which is almost entirely down to the fantastic performance of Alastair Sim as the henpecked thriller writer, Deniston Russell, whose inheritance depends on him receiving a 28-day jail sentence.
The scene in which he tries to shoplift is one of the funniest in a career overladen with choice comic moments. The other three episodes aren’t bad, it’s just that Sim’s is exceptional.
The film was remade in 1970 as the infinitely inferior Some Will, Some Won’t with Ronnie Corbett, Leslie Phillips and Michael Hordern.
Sir Charles Robson
A E Matthews