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Law and Disorder (1958, Michael Redgrave, Lionel Jeffries)

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In Law and Disorder, loveable conman Percy Brand (Michael Redgrave) has always managed to hide his shameful profession from beloved son Colin (Jeremy Burnham) by pretending to be a clergyman. Every time he’s sent down by dispeptic nemesis Judge Crichton (Robert Morley), he pretends he’s going abroad on missionary work.

But now Colin’s grown up, passed his law exams and been employed as Crichton’s marshal. Realising that he can no longer maintain his charade, Percy decides to give up his life of crime and retire to the relative safety of a fishing village. But old habits die hard, and in no time he’s teamed up with local toff Colonel Masters (Ronald Squire) to run a highly profitable brandy-smuggling racket.

Eventually, of course, Percy’s caught red-handed. Worse still, Colin is due to preside over the court hearing. But just when it seems that the game’s up, Percy’s old gang rallies round, constructing an elaborate scheme to save their old mucker’s blushes.

‘A highly amusing off-beat comedy,’ ran Variety’s review, ‘which notches guffaws and giggles with disarming ease.’ Made by the government-run British Lion Film Corporation, it has definite aspirations to the great Ealing comedies of the time. Producer Paul Soskin even borrowed the regular Ealing team of director Charles Crichton and writer TEB Clarke to help scribes Patrick Campbell and Vivienne Knight adapt Denys Roberts’ novel Smuggler’s Circuit .

As the Monthly Film Bulletin suggests, ‘Though this comedy is slightly less successful than The Lavender Hill Mob , which it closely resembles, it is the most amusing TEB Clarke script since Guinness broke the bank’, while the ‘production moves with admirable pace, the locations are expertly blended with the action, and the timing of the jokes is always accurate’.

production details
UK / 76 minutes / 1958

Director: Charles Crichton
Writers: TEB Clarke, Patrick Campbell, Vivienne Knight, based on Denys Roberts’ novel Smuggler’s Circuit,

cast
Michael Redgrave as Percy Brand
Lionel Jeffries as Major Proudfoot
Ronald Squire as Colonel Masters
Elizabeth Sellars as Gina Laselle
Jeremy Burnham as Colin Brand
Brenda Bruce as Blacky
George Coulouris as Sergeant Bolton
Reginald Beckwith as Vickery
David Hutcheson as Freddie Cooper
Mary Kerridge as Lady Crichton
Michael Trubshawe as Ivan
John Le Mesurier as Sir Humphrey Pomfret
Allan Cuthbertson as Police Inspector
John Hewer as Police Superintendent
Anthony Sagar as Customs Official
Irene Handl as Woman in Train
Joan Hickson as Aunt Florence
Sam Kydd as Shorty
Robert Morley as Judge Sir Edward Crichton

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