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Rotten To The Core (1965, Anton Rodgers, Eric Sykes)

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Teenager Charlotte Rampling received her big break in this crime caper from the Boulting Brothers. The actress clearly impressed the brothers – best known for making Brighton Rock and comedies such as Lucky Jim and I’m All Right Jack – for they gave her a seven-year contract and the lead female role in this comedy.

Rampling plays Sara, the girlfriend of The Duke (Anton Rodgers), who’s assembling a gang of crooks together under the pretence of running a health clinic. His real aim is to steal an army payroll worth nearly £3million from a base at Longhampton. The gang of crooks includes Jelly (Dudley Sutton), Lenny (Kenneth Griffith) and Scapa (James Beckett) – three pickpockets who could qualify as inept if they really worked at it. Sara has been getting insider information about the movement of the army payroll from Lieutenant Vine (Ian Bannen), who’s in charge of the money when it’s in transit. But Sara’s strange behaviour makes her father suspicious, so he hires a private detective, Hunt (Eric Sykes), to track her. When Hunt is arrested by the police and reveals his information to them, they become very interested in events at Longhampton…

Inept crooks bungling a high-stakes robbery was one of the favourite themes of British comedies for many years in the ’50s and ’60s (from the St Trinian’s films to Two Way Stretch, The Long Arm of the Law and, of course, The Italian Job), and the Boulting brothers do a sterling job here with Rotten to the Core. The cast all deliver sound performances, but the pick of the bunch is Thorley Walters, as the hypochondriac police officer investigating the case.

production details
UK | 89 minutes | 1965

Director: John Boulting
Writer: Jeffrey Dell, Roy Boulting, John Warren, Len Heath

cast
Eric Sykes as William Hunt
Thorley Walters as Chief Constable Preston
Anton Rodgers as The Duke
Ian Bannen as Lt. Percy Vine
Charlotte Rampling as Sara Capell
Peter Vaughan as Sir Henry Capell