Saturday, 15 September 2012

Who Goes There! (1952)

This amiable British comedy (called "The Passionate Sentry" in the USA) is a pleasant enough piece of whimsy about a royal guard in London, the Irish girl he's engaged to, and a civil servant, his father and sister. It does feature some rather overused plot clich├ęs and it's not exactly hilarious throughout, but it certainly has its moments.

Miles Cornwall (Nigel Patrick) is about to go off to the Antarctic region for a 2-year assignment rather than living it up in Washing, much to his chagrin and at the request of his father Sir Arthur Cornwall (A.E.Matthews) in the hopes of maintaining friendly Anglo-American relations.  Sir Arthur in turn was urged into this by Miles' sister Alex (Valerie Hobson), who thinks that this job could be the making of Miles, not to mention keeping him away from women and his famously impulsive behaviour.

Into their world staggers Christine Deed (Peggy Cummins) and shortly afterwards her intended Arthur (George Cole).  Cummins manages to be just sweet enough not to be completely annoying in her role, while a young George Cole, as he usually does, steals every scene he's in.   John Dighton's screenplay tends to do best when there are just two characters on the screen, and some of the wordplay is rather clever.  In terms of situation comedy it's a bit pedestrian but it raises a smile several times.

It's not a particularly great film, but if you're fond of British comedies from the era then Who Goes There! is certainly one you'll want to see.


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