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.