Watch It Sailor (1961)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Based on a stage farce by Falkland A. Cary and Philip King (who also authored the screenplay), Watch It, Sailor? was a lively if somewhat loud comedy pitting working class sensibilities against officialdom, parents against children, and wives against husbands. Director Wolf Rilla (Village of the Damned) keeps matters moving at a brisk pace, with Marjorie Rhodes dominating the screen as a phenomenally disagreeable harridan, making life comically miserable for clueless would-be son-in-law John Meillon. The supporting players, including Graham Stark as the prospective groom's best friend, and Cyril Smith as Rhodes' put-upon husband, get their considerable comic grace notes in, and Elisabeth Fraser as the cousin of the would-be bride (Vera Day), is funny and good to look at. But the two great scene-stealers in this comedy of errors are Irene Handl as the bride's eccentric (okay, she's just plain dotty) aunt, whose ramblings have a surreal quality; and Dennis Price as the droll-witted officer who is forced by orders to interfere with the impending marriage, and then ordered to make it right. With the cock of an eye-brow or the slight curl of a lip, before he even utters a line, Price dominates every scene in which he appears, and even if the rest of the movie weren't as funny as it is, his performance would be worth the price of admission. And the second half, detailing the reasons for the interrupted wedding, helps to turn this into a modern working class homage to Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest -- perhaps not quite as witty (what is?), but with a lot of comic potential, most of it realized.