31 March 2014

Dad's Army: The Movie (starring Arthur Lowe, John le Mesurier and Clive Dunn)

I watched the BBC TV series 'Dad's Army' off and on in my teenage years, and have seen random repeats from time to time. But it's many years since I watched the official film, made in 1971 as a spin-off for the cinema. Teenage friends wanted a recommendation of something light but interesting, so we recommended this, and all enjoyed it.

The story is well-known, set in World War II and involving the formation of the local 'home guard'. Arthur Lowe is brilliant as the bossy bank manager Mr Mainwaring, who decides to take control of the local home guard, with his assistant Wilson as second-in-command. They gather together a rag-tag collection of mostly elderly men, plus Pike, a mollycoddled young man whose mother likes to look after him all the time.

The group who form the Warmington-on-Sea home guard are essentially incompetent but willing; they clash with the Vicar (Frank Williams) and the air raid warden Hodges (Bill Pertwee), as happened regularly in the TV series, but they also clash with a visiting Major-General...

The humour is mostly low-key, with some slapstick and some situations that are so ridiculous they become amusing. But what makes this film - and indeed the series - work is the chemistry between the main actors, and the superb timing. I love the ending, too, when the platoon finally succeed in something constructive.

Critics complain that this is really cobbled together from about three of the TV episodes rather than being a new idea or plot, and that may be the case; but as an introduction to Dad's Army, and indeed a caricatured overview of how the home guard functioned in the war, this is hard to beat.

I had forgotten the majority of the story, and enjoyed it very much.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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