Hilarious crime comedy The Wrong Arm of the Law starred Peter Sellers as the boss of a gang of inept crooks in London’s West End, who use a fashion store as a front for their dodgy dealings.
Pearly Gates (Sellers) is a London gang dealer who doubles up as Monsieur Jules, the owner of a fashion house. Everything is running smoothly as no-one gets hurt in the gang’s “victimless” crimes (jewellery thefts, bank robberies, etc) and no-one resists the police. But this quiet world of quaint English gun-less crime is upset when a gang of Australian crooks, acting on information provided by Gates’ girlfriend Valerie (Nanette Newman), impersonate police officers and steal the spoils of the gang’s looting.
Something must be done, so drastic measures are called for and Pearly strikes a deal between organised crime and Scotland Yard to eventually capture the rogue Aussies, who are lured into carrying out a fake van robbery. Of course, Pearly has his own plans for the set up and tries to steal the money from under everyone’s noses, only to discover that it’s fake, and he ends up living on a desert island designing grass skirts.
Time Out called the film “a very superior piece of work… genuinely funny,” while Halliwell praised its “pacy script and excellent comedy timing.” Variety acknowledged that it was “a briskly amusing farce… the screenplay has a fair turn of wit and a number of excellent whacky situations… a breezy, likeable comedy.”
Sellers was at the height of his pre-pink panther career here. A typically superb performance in fact.
UK / Romulus – Robert Verlaise / 94 minutes / 1962
Writers: John Warren, Len Heath, Ray Galton, Alan Simpson, John Antrobus, based on a story by Ivor Jay and William Whistance Smith / Cinematography: Ernest Steward / Music: Richard Rodney Bennett / Producers: Aubrey Baring, E.M. Smedley Aston / Director: Cliff Owen
Cast: Peter Sellers, Lionel Jeffries, Bernard Cribbins, Davy Kaye, Nanette Newman, Bill Kerr, John Le Mesurier