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SAILOR BEWARE, 1956
Starring: Peggy Mount, Shirley Eton, Ronald Lewis and Gordon Jackson
Battle-axe Emma Hornett dominates her hen-pecked husband Henry, his meek sister Edie and daughter Shirley. Shirley is to marry young sailor Albert,raised in an orphanage,and he and best man Carnoustie stay with the Hornetts on the eve of the wedding, though Emma makes sure the stag night is a brief one. Next day Albert fails to show up for the wedding. He eventually turns up at the house and confides in the vicar that if family life is anything like the Hornetts he wants no part of it. When the Hornetts are told this Emma declares that she sees that has been a "very wicked woman" and will mend her ways but, as the young couple eventually marry and move into their own house , one wonders how long her change of heart will last.
This film is a classic British face starring Peggy Mount as the typical battle-axe type mother-in-law. Its 1950’s style humour is a little dated as are some of the attitudes portrayed. But it is still quite funny, not timeless, but that’s not a bad thing.
Albert Tufnell (Ronald Lewis) is about to marry Shirley Hornett (Shirley Eaton) only trouble is his mother-in-law to be, Emma Hornett (Peggy Mount) is a rather formidable battle-axe. She orders everyone around by screeching at them, particularly her husband Henry Hornett (Cyril Smith).
The film is based on the play of the same name by Falkland L. Cary, who also wrote the screenplay for the film; and you can tell that it was originally a play. A lot of the scenes are in the one house and there is a lot of dialogue. Even the acting is quite theatrical for a film, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just interesting.
This film shares the same name as the Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin film, however the plots are completely different and there is no connection whatsoever and anyway the Lewis/Martin film was released under a different title in Great Britain. At any rate the play precedes the Martin/Lewis film.
Peggy Mount is very funny as the battle-axe, you hate her straight away. Although you do feel sorry for her towards the end once she hears her husband talking about the way she is. She thought that she was just helping everyone. Peggy Mount was known for playing the role of a stereotypical battle-axe, mother-in-law in her day both on screen and on the stage.
Shirley Eaton is better known as the bond girl from ‘Goldfinger’. This film was obviously one of her first; she peaked a few years after this film, starring in several films per year including a few of the Carry On films, ‘Carry On Doctor’ and ‘Carry On Sargent’. Before she was cast as Jill Masterson in ‘Goldfinger’. She really is in this film just for her looks though.
This film is interesting as it shows us the views of a mid-twentieth century approach to relationships. The suggestion that the groom and the best man will stay in the same house as the bride sends mother, Emma, into a rage, she has organised for the boys to stay with their neighbour. Also the idea that he was thinking of going out with his friends for a drink the night before the wedding sends his soon to be mother-in-law into a similar tirade. However her views aren’t presented as being conservative or unreasonable. The humour is more meant to come from how she goes on about it. In what must have been considered a very risky shot in the film, Carnoustie, the best man, catches a woman bending over and he is struck rigid by the site of her legs. My how times have changed.
If you like old style dry British humour and who doesn’t, I recommend this film or even if you just like classic films in general. Or if you are about to be married, actually no, definitely do not see this film if you are about to be married.