Larger-than-life comedian Jimmy Edwards, who made his name in radio with Take It From Here and scored strongly on television in the Fifties in Whack-O! as the hectoring, cane-wielding headmaster of Chiselbury School, a ramshackle educational establishment that both Will Hay and satirical columnist Beachcomber would have recognised with approval, cheerfully reprised his explosive characterization for the screen in zestful farce Bottoms Up. “Here is a piece of genuine slapstick”, stated Variety, “which should do well”, adding inimitably that it produced “frequent yocks”.
The yocks in question were liberally inserted into the breezy screenplay by Michael Pertwee (with TV series creators Frank Muir and Denis Norden contributing tailor-made additional dialogue) which finds headmaster Edwards being threatened with dismissal by governor Martita Hunt unless he effects an immediate improvement in the school’s abysmal record. Edwards’ reaction is to get young thug Melvyn Hayes, the son of his bookmaker Sidney Tafler, to pose as an Eastern prince in order to impress Hunt that he is working hand in glove with the Foreign Office. But Edwards’ scheme runs into major problems, when the real prince turns up on the scene and Hayes is kidnapped by enemy agents. And the harassed headmaster comes under further pressure when he is forced to contend with a full-scale military style student rebellion organized by pupil John Mitchell. Edwards and his servile assistant Arthur Howard win through in the end and he is congratulated by both Hunt and the Foreign Office …
Producer-director MARIO ZAMPI, an expert in screen comedy with films such as Laughter in Paradise, Top Secret, The Naked Truth and Too Many Crooks to his credit, sensibly took no chances and remained faithful to the television series’ highly successful comic formula with excellent effect and, noted Variety , his direction “is fast and uninhibited”. The suitable storyline was simply and effectively used to deliver a series of splendid knockabout gags put over with hearty excess by, in particular, Edwards, with fine comic support being provided Howard as his much-put-upon henchman.
UK / Warner – Transocean / 89 minutes / 1960 made in black and white
Writer: Michael Pertwee / Additional dialogue: Frank Muir, Denis Norden / Director: Mario Zampi
Cast: Jimmy Edwards, Arthur Howard, Martita Hunt, Sidney Tafler, Raymond Huntley, Reginald Beckwith, Vanda Hudson, Melvyn Hayes