Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Battle Of The Sexes

If you can get past the excruciatingly arch introduction- which exists (I think) to justify the film's wholly misleading title, this turns out to be a deft little farce- with black edging- about an American efficiency expert who attempts to modernise an antediluvian Ediburgh business that would rather keep its files in dusty, seven foot piles, thank you very much.  Peter Sellers is the mild-mannered clerk who dreams of murder,  Constance Cummings is the intended victim and Robert Morley, doing his Robert Morley impersonation, offers noisy support.  The director is Charles Crichton- whom John Cleese later hired- probably on the strength of this- to make A Fish Called Wanda.

Sellers plays a man thirty years older than himself  and does it impeccably. The underplaying looks forward to Chauncey Gardener, the beautifully timed physical comedy to Clouseau.  Someone- I forget who- nominated the scene where Sellers- intent of killing Cummings- gropes blindly in the kitchen drawer for a butcher's knife and then nearly stabs her with an egg whisk- as the funniest in the history of the movies. Well, it's certainly very good.

When we deplore the British film industry- always languishing in the shadow of Hollywood, always lapsing into crisis- we overlook  the existence of movies like this- underpromoted, cheaply-made, characterful, often rather wonderful- and that there are scores and scores of them.

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