AVAILABLE ON DVD
RUNNING TIME: 83 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Despite being in the Royal Navy, Lieutenant Humphrey Fairweather spends most of his time toying with his home-made rockets….with very disastrous results. He’s been bounced from base to base in an attempt to get rid of him. Finally, in a last effort to get him out of the way, he is given his first command….of HMS Berkeley, which has had no commanding officer for two years. However, what he doesn’t know is that during those two years, the crew of this obselete ship have been getting up to all sorts of moneymaking schemes and even raising livestock on the boat. Because Fairweather is pretty daft and focused on his rockets, hopefully he won’t notice….
Some sources don’t list this as a Hammer film, but others do and I’m willing to go along with the director Val Guest who says that it definitely is. This kind of service comedy was very prevalent in the British cinema of the late 50’s/ early 60’s, though not being too familiar with them the closest thing I can compare Up The Creek [which bares no relationship to the 1984 American movie of the same name] to is the great TV series The Phil Silver Show aka Sgt. Bilko which I used to enjoy watching on Friday evenings many years ago, though Guest’s screenplay seems to borrow a fair bit from his own one for the 1938 Oh. Mr. Porter. Up The Creek isn’t really in the same league as those two examples, but it’s enjoyable enough, if generally more amusing rather than laugh-out-loud hilarious. The funniest section is when the crew are trying to hide their goings-ons from Fairweather, to the point of cooking the animals being kept on the ship and serving them to him. Fairweather takes a while to realise what they are getting up to, even unknowingly transporting some goods to the villagers of Meadows End [which seems to be only reachable by a field] in the boot of his car, though he’s understandably distracted by pretty French barmaid Susanne. There’s also some fun with the arrival and transportation of his new rocket, and the second to last scene really did make me guffaw, but generally Up The Creek wasn’t as chucklesome as I expected.
It’s still a pleasant, breezy watch though, the plot being highly predictable [you just know there’s going to be an inspection towards the end where the crew have to shape up] but not really the worst for that. David Tomlinson does a more muted version of his middle class twit act than normal, but the main interest for me about this film was the comedy genius that was Peter Sellers having his first movie appearance in it. For some reason he gives his character an Irish/American accent which seems out of place but he already has great star quality anyway. The music by Tony Fones and Tony Lowry gets a bit irritating as it constantly tries to ram home that what you’re watching is supposed to be funny. Overall though Up The Creek is enjoyable if very slight and I doubt I’ll remember much about it in a few weeks time. It was a huge hit at the time though, and a sequel, which I will be reviewing in due course, was hurriedly put into production, though sadly Sellers isn’t in it.