Julie Christie made her big-screen debut in British comedy Crooks Anonymous, even though she later admitted that she’d really wanted to star in a French New Wave movie and looked down her nose at this amiable, but decidedly un-intellectual, movie (‘I was very young, and young people are apt to be snobs of one kind or another,’ she later said). It’s also notable for a fantastic comedy performance by Stanley Baxter and an archetypal role for Leslie Phillips.
Phillips plays petty thief Dandy Forsdyke, a crook whose fingers are liable to get him into trouble with the law. Coerced by girlfriend Babette (Julie Christie) into going straight, he joins an unofficial organisation for reforming criminals called Crooks Anonymous. With the help of ex-con Senior Brother Montague (Wilfrid Hyde White), Dandy is able to resist the strong temptation to steal and, after passing a series of tests administered by Brother Widdowes (Baxter), is declared ‘cured’.
He takes a legit job as a Santa Claus in a London department store, but faces his biggest test yet when he’s locked in the store with just £250,000 for company. In desperation, he calls Crooks Anonymous for help but, when they arrive, they face the same dilemma. Will these reformed men be able to stay on the straight and narrow?
Crime was a popular theme in British comedies in the early ’60s (from Two Way Stretch and The Wrong Arm of the Law to Crooks in Cloisters), and Crooks Anonymous is a particularly nimble-fingered effort. It’s further illuminated by the likes of comedy stalwarts James Robertson Justice and Harry Fowler, and there are brief cameos from Dick Emery and Dandy Nichols. Veteran British director Fred Annakin went on to make his most ambitious comedy the following year, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.
UK / 88 minutes / 1962
Director: Ken Annakin
Wilfrid Hyde-White as Laurence Montague
Leslie Phillips as Dandy Forsdyke
James Robertson Justice as Sir Harvey Russelrod
Stanley Baxter as R. S. Widdowes
Julie Christie as Babette LaVern
and this just in
Savage Wilderness (1955, Victor Mature, James Whitmore)
Victor Mature, the ’50s star once dubbed ‘a beautiful hunk of man’ but now often unfairly labelled the Sylvester Stallone...
Let Him Have It (1991, Chris Eccleston, Paul Reynolds)
Let Him Have It is Peter Medak’s vividly dramatized account of the infamous and still controversial 1952 Craig-Bentley case focused,...
Legend Of The Lost (1957, John Wayne, Sophia Loren)
Henry Hathaway’s Boys Own adventure Legend Of The Lost is given extra curiosity value by Ben Hecht’s philosophical script. John...
I Could Go On Singing (UA 1963, Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde)
In I Could Go On Singing Jenny Bowman (Judy Garland) is a great singing star. A Palladium season brings her...
Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes (1970, Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely)
This entertaining addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon saw Billy Wilder come up with a new adventure for the famous...
A Million Little Things: Pilot (Series Premiere ABC 26 Sep 2018)
Pilot: hey say friendship isn’t one big thing, it’s a million little things; and that’s true for a group of...
A Million Little Things: Band Of Dads (Episode 2 ABC 3 Oct 2018)
Band Of Dads: The group tries to be there for Sophie as an upcoming father-daughter dance recital approaches, and when...
Modern Family: I Love a Parade (Season 10 Premiere ABC 26 Sep 2018)
I Love a Parade: The Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan are going to be setting off more than a few fireworks when they...
Bus Stop (TCF 1956, Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray)
Bar-room singer Cherie in Bus Stop was Marilyn Monroe’s first screen performance after she had retrained at Lee Strasberg’s Actors...
Guns Of The Magnificent Seven (1969, George Kennedy, James Whitmore)
After the success of The Magnificent Seven the men were no longer mere movie icons. They were also a popular...
Amorous Prawn, The (1962, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker)
Director Anthony Kimmins and Nicholas Phipps collaborated on the slick script for The Amorous Prawn a lively screen version of...