Anthony Kimmins (director)
Network On Air (studio)
84 min (length)
19 October 2020 (released)
14 October 2020
George Formby, as hard to believe as it may appear in this virus-stricken day and age, was at the time Britain's biggest box office sensation and the highest paid performer in the country. In this hilarious Brit-comedy from 1939 he plays George Gullip, a newspaper compositor who fancies himself as an amateur sleuth and is given the chance to put his skills to the test when he wins at the races but the tenners are replaced with counterfeit notes!
George Formby, the 'Lancashire Toreador' (well, that was the title of one of his best-known songs) was a Northern phenomenon (the son of a well known music hall artist) whose star blazed brightly from around 1935 to 1946. Like fellow Northerner Gracie Fields he entertained millions of troops as part of the ENSA Brigade during WW2 and it was this that ultimately put his post-war career on a downward spiral.
But here we see the rather goofy looking and gormless Lancastrian in his heyday and in a format that would be used again and again; indeed it could easily have been a Norman Wisdom script for a decade and a half latter. Our bumbling but lovable hero works on the printing press as a compositor on a daily newspaper - but in his way he is a bit of a genius who really fancies himself as the next Sherlock Holmes. Of course no one at the paper recognizes this except for pretty young cub reporter Mary Brown (a 19-year old Googie Withers) who pens the paper’s astrological page. George is also constantly humiliated and undermined by ‘bully boy’ editor A. G. Brady (Garry Marsh) who also has a shine for Mary. Fear not: stoical George has invented a special ink which will stay on your fingertip for a least a week once it’s on (only he has a serum for removing it).
After a fluke win at the races (actually due to him writing Mary’s astrological chart that day and the lucky Number 8 coming up trumps for him) George and colleague/guzzleguts Bill Pike (Gus McNaughten) have their race course winnings of thirty quid (a fair bit then) snatched out of their hands by a stranger who boldly replaces the three tenners with six counterfeit fivers!
We know from earlier who the mastermind behind this villainy is, namely that other ‘great’ British comic Ronald Shiner (in the small part of ‘Bridgewater’). However, one of the counterfeit fivers has an ink-stained fingerprint on it and it's down to George and Bill to find out just whose print it is. Initially our amateur detectives go off on the wrong scent which, of course, leads to a lot of fun which includes the haughty Martita Hunt as operatic diva Madame Berdi and George as a contestant in a public wrestling match!
Actually you hardly need to be Sherlock Holmes to work out who the real villain is… the one whose fingerprint is on the fake fiver, ha! It all ends with an enormous ‘free beer for all’ slapstick fight in a brewery, with George and Bill taking on a whole hoard of villains between them!
Director and co-writer Anthony Kimmins keeps it all going at a fair old pace. Are we to assume that Mr. Formby is actually becoming fashionable again? Well no less a talent than the great Sir Ian McKellen, who has always been a big fan. We also get to hear George sing a plaintive version of 'Fanlight Fanny' among other banjolele ditties. Many verses of Formby song's were banned by the BBC… this should be enough to interest you – well, perhaps.
TROUBLE BREWING is presented as a brand-new High Definition Remaster.