A young Michael Winner made a number of interesting films in the sixties… before success took him. Here he pokes fun at the establishment through the anarchic activities of two brothers fed up with the silver spoons in their mouths…
Written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais – the writers of Catch Me a Spy and so many British comedy drama classics – the film has a little more edge than some of the swinging comedies of the time.
|Edward Fox looks on as cheats almost prosper...|
The film starts with Crawford’s Michael in the army, trying to use his brother David, to help cheat his way to victory in war games… well, not cheat exactly, but bending the rules as far as they can. Sadly his commanding officer doesn’t believe in bend-able rules and Michael and the army part company.
|Crawford, Reed and Lotte Tarp|
David is also an under-achiever, passing his time as an architect come interior designer having also been booted out of the army. His regular girlfriend, Eve, is played by the excellent Gabriella Licudi who was so committed in Herostratrus, Don Levy’s altogether more serious examination of sixties culture – there’s a good piece on it here.
Providing there is no provable intent to keep the royal treasures they figure they’ll be able to escape punishment whilst at the same time having a lark and proving how clever they are… They write letters to be left with their banks which will prove their benign intent after the deal is done and start a strategy of wrong-footing the forces of the state.
|Swinging London 1966|
|Brian Wilde and Harry Andrews|
Winner unfolds the story well though and it’s only on the night of the “appropriation” that we understand how all of the pieces will fit together.
|Oliver Reed and James Donald (left)|
Covered in fake blood, they are whisked away in an ambulance… they over-power the crew and are free to run home and hide the jewels in David’s flat.
So far so good and the two enjoy a few days gloating as the press whips the country into a paranoid frenzy over the theft. But, when the time comes to return the jewels David finds them gone. Michael claims no knowledge and it is only when the police arrive and Michael denies all knowledge that David realises that his brother may have betrayed him.
|Gabriella Licudi and Oliver Reed|
She is helped by their friend Riggs (Daniel Massey) who photographed Michael’s ostensible alibi at his sister’s coming out party.
Has Michael really betrayed his brother and is there a way out for both of the boys?
|Michael denies all...|
There’s good support from the aforementioned Ms Licudi as well as Harry Anderson and a guest appearance from Michael Horden as the government minister with the wind up him! Hmm, maybe we haven’t changed that much… making the establishment sweat is all we have left in the post-democratic sterility of coalition-austerity Britain…
|Gabriella Licudi and Michael Crawford|
|Hang on... I've got an idea...|
|Ollie keeps watch...|