It’s Great To Be Young (1956, John Mills and Cecil Parker)

Ted Willis came up with a bright and lively screenplay for breezy British comedy It’s Great To Be Young described by David Quinlan as a “tremendous comedy-with-music… bubbling, joyous stuff.”

John Mills is Mr Dingle, an enthusiastic grammar school teacher who is rehearsing pupils from the upper sixth form to take part in the National Festival of School Orchestras. But their impromptu jazz session brings them up against the new head Frome (Cecil Parker). When he curtails the activities of the orchestra and refuses to sanction the purchase of much-needed new musical instruments, the pupils resort to hire purchase after their efforts at busking to raise cash are quashed by the head. Dingle then takes up piano playing in a pub to keep up the hire-purchase payments and is forced by Frome to resign. But Frome’s action results in a full-scale rebellion by the pupils.

It's Great To Be Young film poster

Cecil Parker is every kid’s idea of ponderous pedagogue, and John Mills plays against his wartime film demeanour, right down to his performances with a trumpet and a turn on a pub piano while presenting the chalky appearance of a typically harassed form-master. “Mills,” reported Variety, “is in top form… he makes an impressive contribution,” and his supporting cast, including Parker and juvenile leads Jeremy Spenser, Dorothy Bromiley, John Salew, Elizabeth Kentish and Mary Merrall, all made their mark. And there’s the remarkably clever and engaging Richard O’Sullivan; seen here in his seventh film, who would go on to become a major British television comedy favourite.

Director: Cyril Frankel
Writer: Ted Willis

Cast: John Mills, Cecil Parker, Jeremy Spenser, Dorothy Bromiley, Brian Smith, Wilfred Downing, John Salew, Eleanor Summerfield

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