Wednesday, September 28, 2016


PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*

By rights I shouldn't like this lame British comedy any better than the horrendous HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, released about six years later. RENTADICK, despite its "Carry On"-style name, doesn't deliver much salacious content beyond the curves of female lead Julie Ege, though Ege gets a lot more scenes than any of the women in HOUND.

Like the later film, RENTADICK provides the viewer with a loose plot designed to let a bunch of comedians horse around. Armitage (Donald Sinden) comes to a British security firm with two concerns on his mind: he needs to protect his chemical plant from spies, who want the plant's newly developing paralysis gas, and he wants someone to spy on his hot Swedish wife Utta (Ege). There's not much question that the spies are about, as there are a bunch of Japanese men running around, led by the kimono-bedecked "Madame Greenfly" (Tsai Chin of THE FACE OF FU MANCHU).  It's not immediately beyond question that Utta Armitage is also guilty, but since there's less potential for comedy if she's virtuous, no one will be overly surprised by the script's direction in that respect.

The principal authors of said script are pseudonyms for Graham Chapman and John Cleese, some time before they took part in the Monty Python troupe. But this silly script has none of the wit of the Python work, and was apparently nothing more than the writers' attempt to try their hand at the sort of middle-class comedy they tended to mock later. Chapman and Cleese didn't like what the producers did with their original script, hence the pseudonyms. The finished film seems incapable of laying out the personalities of the characters very well: at any given time it's hard to keep track of what the three main members of the goofy security firm are supposed to be doing. (I couldn't even figure out the purpose of introducing a subplot about comical Arab slave traders.) This stands in contrast to even the least of the "Carry On" films, which have the distinction of being able to succinctly describe the plot-functions of much larger casts.

The comedians are professional enough, but they've little to work with, and the SF-content of the paralysis gas is only occasionally referenced. Though Julie Ege isn't precisely viewed as a stellar actress for her time, her sexy character is at least easy to comprehend, so that the actress comes off better with this material than her more experienced collaborators.

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