begin by making one thing clear: The animated opening titles sequence of The Amorous Prawn (U.S. title: The Amorous Mr. Prawn) aside – which features
a pair of flirtatious cartoon crustaceans flitting around the screen – there
isn't a single prawn to be found in director Anthony Kimmins' lukewarm 1962
farce, let alone an amative one. The title in fact references the nickname of
one of the film's secondary characters, a rakish lothario played by Dennis
thrust of the story actually concerns Dodo (Joan Greenwood), the wife of
General Sir Hamish Fitzadam (Cecil Parker) and her resourceful scheme to scare
up some quick cash to help fund his impending retirement. The couple live on a
sparsely manned Army base in the Scottish Highlands, and when Hamish is sent
overseas on business Dodo sets into motion 'Operation Lolly', opening up the
house and expansive grounds of the base as a salmon fishing holiday destination
for American tourists. She bribes Corporal Sydney Green (Ian Carmichael) and the
other members of the small on-site platoon to disguise the building's military
purposes and assist in her plans by posing as hotel staff. Naturally the
subterfuge is a recipe for calamitous misunderstandings.
The Amorous Prawn exudes the whiff of
theatrical buffoonery – and not of the particularly amusing variety at that –
it should come as no surprise to learn that it first saw life as a stage play
written by none other than director Kimmins himself. Yet, to be fair, what it
lacks in laughs it manages to compensate for with a modicum of amiable charm.
Ian Carmichael is always watchable (even if his character here is a tad less
endearing than those he played in the likes of School for Scoundrels and Double
Bunk) and there are a number of stalwart Brit reliables on hand to imbue
the proceedings with a mien of comforting familiarity, among them Derek Nimmo (whose
portrayal of Private Willie Maltravers is more camp than a row of tents),
Finlay Currie, Geoffrey Bayldon, Gerald Sim and Michael Ripper. Meanwhile Liz
Fraser brings her stock in trade bosomy blonde sex appeal to the party, though
she's very nearly upstaged in the glam department by one of Price's squeezes,
barmaid 'Busty Babs' (Sandra Dorne).
Today The Amorous Prawn's primary
audience will reside either among nostaligia-seekers who remember it from its
original run round the circuit, or those with a fondness for unassuming Sunday
afternoon fare. Supported by one of John Barry's earliest scores, fans of the
composer may also be drawn to investigate, though it should be said that his
work here falls well shy of his more distinguished endeavours.
The film comes to DVD in the UK from Network, the crisp transfer serving DoP
Wilkie Cooper's black and white photography marvellously. Though not in a
position to clarify – I've seen the film just once before – it should be noted
that some material has allegedly gone AWOL from this release, apparently
amounting to some 3-minutes’ worth of footage. The film was certainly subjected
to BBFC-imposed cuts back in 1962 in order to secure a 'U' certificate, but
given that a fleeting (though startlingly graphic) glimpse of frontal male
nudity when a Scotsman's kilt rides up is present and correct in this 'U'
certificate DVD release, one would have to wonder what could possibly be
missing. The only bonus feature is a generous gallery of production stills, front
of house cards and artwork, some of which bears the film's alternate titles The Amorous Mr Prawn and The Playgirl and the War Minister.
Oscar winning actor George Kennedy has died at age 91, five months after the passing of his wife Joan. Kennedy's popularity as a character actor led to eventual leading man roles in major films. Born in New York City, he experienced stage life early, working with his parents in Vaudeville. During WWII he served under General Patton and was decorated for bravery. He drifted into acting on television in the 1950s. With his imposing physical presence (he was 6'4"), Kennedy immediately found work, generally playing heavies who squared off against the series' heroes. Among the shows he guest-starred on were such hits as "Have Gun, Will Travel", "Rawhide", "Gunsmoke" and "The Untouchables". He crossed into feature films in the early 1960s and first made a splash in Stanley Donen's 1963 comedy thriller "Charade" in which he played a crook with a hook hand who attempts to kill Cary Grant in a rooftop fight. The film demonstrated that Kennedy could play light comedy as well as menacing characters. From that point he never stopped working and quickly became one of the most popular "second bananas" in the film industry. He specialized in Westerns and appeared in plenty- squaring off against John Wayne in "The Sons of Katie Elder" and co-starring with James Stewart, Dean Martin and Raquel Welch in "Bandolero!". He also had a major role in the 1967 WWII blockbuster "The Dirty Dozen". His appearance as a buffoonish convict who initially fights but later befriends Paul Newman on a chain gain in "Cool Hand Luke" won him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1968. This elevated his marketability in Hollywood and Kennedy got the occasional starring roles in films such as "Guns of the Magnificent Seven" and "The Human Factor". Generally, however, he was relegated to supporting roles, but high profile ones. As gruff, cigar crunching engine Joe Patroni in the original "Airport", Kennedy made a significant enough impression that he became the only cast member from that film to appear in the three sequels. He also co-starred with Clint Eastwood in "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" and "The Eiger Sanction". He enjoyed a late career surge in popularity as Lesiie Nielsen's co-star in the three hit "Naked Gun" comedies. Kennedy had two children from his first marriage. After marrying Joan, the couple adopted four more including Kennedy's granddaughter, whose mother had been battling drug addiction. In 2011 he published his memoirs under the title "Trust Me".