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Carlton Browne of the F.O. (1960, Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers)

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In wild and witty comedy Carlton Browne of the F.O. producers John and Roy Boulting turned their mordant eyes on the Foreign Office but with hugely entertaining sideswipes at other targets, including politicians, the army, the old-school-tie-connection, the Americans, the Russians, the British Council, the media and the United Nations.

Terry-Thomas, perfectly cast as the eponymous Carlton-Browne, is the world’s worst diplomat, who is safely back-watered in the allegedly harmless corner of the Foreign Office known as “miscellaneous territories”. Unfortunately, the discovery of rich mineral deposits in the long forgotten former British colony of Gallardia results in Carlton-Browne being sent to the island to strengthen Anglo-Gallardian relations. It is not long, however, before his feeble handling of the situation antagonises young king Loris (Ian Bannen) and sees him constantly falling foul of the oily, devious Prime Minister Amphibulos (Peter Sellers). Unrest in the island finally leads to it being partitioned by the United Nations. Again Carlton-Browne blunders, allying himself with the faction without the mineral deposits. He is the catalyst for further disasters, including a revolution that, amazingly, ends with Carlton-Browne being decorated for his services to international peace and unity.

The film was selected to be shown at the 1959 Moscow Film Festival but The Times reported Roy Boulting as saying he had heard the Foreign Office had intervened over the choice. “There is no question of an intervention,” said a Foreign Office official, quoted in The Times. Boulting, asked to comment, said the film was “a gentle dig at some of our modern stupidities.”

US Title: Man in a Cocked Hat.

production details
UK / 88 minutes / 1960

crew details
Writers: Roy Boulting, Jeffrey Dell
Director: Roy Boulting

cast
Terry-Thomas as Cadogan de Vere Carlton-Browne
Peter Sellers as Prime Minister Amphibulos
Luciana Paluzzi as Princess Ilyena
Ian Bannen as Young King Loris
Thorley Walters as Colonel Bellingham
Raymond Huntley as Foreign Secretary Tufton-Slade
Miles Malleson as Resident Advisor Davidson
John Le Mesurier as Grand Duke Alexis
Marie Lohr as Lady Carlton-Browne
Kynaston Reeves as Sir Arthur Carlton-Browne
Ronald Adam as Sir John Farthing
John Van Eyssen as Hewitt
Nicholas Parsons as Rodgers
Irene Handl as Mrs. Carter
Harry Locke as Gaillardian commentator
Basil Dignam as Security Officer
Sam Kydd as Signaller
Robert Bruce as Major Miller
John Glyn-Jones as Newsreel Interviewer
Marianne Stone as Woman In Cinema
Kathryn Keeton as Dancer
Margaret Lacey as Onlooker
Robert S. Young as Archivist

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