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The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963, Peter Sellers, Lionel Jeffries)

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Hilarious crime comedy The Wrong Arm of the Law stars 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.’

production details
UK / 94 minutes / 1963

Director: Cliff Owen
Writers: John Warren, Len Heath, Ray Galton, Alan Simpson, John Antrobus, based on a story by Ivor Jay and William Whistance Smith,

cast
Peter Sellers as Pearly Gates
Lionel Jeffries as Inspector Fred ‘Nosey’ Parker
Nanette Newman as Valerie
Davy Kaye as Trainer King
Bill Kerr as Jack Coombes
Ed Devereaux as Bluey May
Reg Lye as Reg Denton
John Le Mesurier as Assistant Commissioner
Graham Stark as Sid Cooper
Martin Boddey as Superintendent J.S. Forest
Irene Browne as Dowager
Arthur Mullard as Brassknuckles
Bernard Cribbins as Nervous O’Toole
Marianne Stone as Woman at Meeting

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