AKA THE LYONS ABROAD, MR. AND MRS. IN PAREE
AVAILABLE ON DVD
RUNNING TIME: 81 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Due to the sad obsurity of this film, I wasn’t able to find either an original cinema poster nor a decent still!
Has Ben Lyon forgotten his wedding anniversary? His wife Bebe thinks he has, and can hardly contain her fury. When his son Richard sees him dining with a glamorous French revue star named Fifi le Fleur he thinks the worst, but it turns out that Ben is actually buying ferry tickets from her for a surprise family holiday to Paris, and Bebe hadn’t actually forgotten that their anniversary was on the 14th of the month, not the 13th. En route to Paris, Barbara falls for a mad, existentialist French artist, and once there their hotel suite seems to be occupied by a variety of animals….
God how I feel sorry for Ben Lyon, though he seems to be a bit under the thumb. Within twenty minutes he gets his wife throwing crockery at him due to a mistake that she wrongly thinks he made, but after a quick apology by her everything seems forgotten. The sequel to Life With The Lyons which had been Hammer’s biggest success at the box office so far, featuring the same real life family that were popular on radio, is basically more of the same, but feeling more cinematic due to the Paris setting of the final two thirds and a great deal of footage actually shot in the French capital. It’s also slightly more risqué in some of its references, though only slightly and the whole thing once again is good decent harmless family fun of the kind that is almost missing from our screens now. Humour is something that can be very subjective, but I laughed immensely at some of the mix-ups, cock-ups and slapstick of this film, such as a can of paint accidentally falling on somebody’s head not just one time but three times, or the simple chaos caused by just having workmen with a very long ladder in the house. My favourite bit, which I actually had to re-play, has Bebe, while they are all on their way to Paris on a horribly rocking boat with it pouring down outside, open a window with the words: “ What a nice wall safe, I think I’ll put our passports in there”.
Yes I know, not that funny to many, but as I said humour can be very subjective. In any case, the plot nicely builds up the misunderstandings until we get Ben having to fight a duel for the dubious honour of Fifi. The film’s vision of Paris is very stereotypical and Pierre Dudan’s artist Charles, who is studying “ the science of emptiness” is just annoying rather than funny, while Horace Wimpole’s Colonel Price’s constant rude jabs at his poor wife’s appearance begin to grate after a while, though at least there’s much laughter at the expense of Ben’s age to compensate. I guess to many, this film and its predecessor are extremely dated, but I don’t understand how silly, virtually clean humour can really date at all. It’s just that we don’t see much of it today, which is a pity. The Lyons went on to star in their long-running TV series after this movie, but I think it’s rather a shame we didn’t get more movies from them. The two we have are no classics, but they made me chuckle throughout, which is really all a comedy has to do.