4 May 2008 | Spondonman
Back to the old school
This was the Master Will Hay's 4th film and 1st for Gainsborough, for which he did his best work overall although his last for Ealing was also a world-beater. He was playing his long established stage persona of seedy schoolmaster here even though it was also supposedly based on Beachcomber's (J.B. Morton) Narkover from the Daily Express - Morton later stated he had had no involvement in the production.
School and prison school teacher Dr. Alec Smart by criminal (and comic) means gets the job of Headmaster at Narkover School, a notorious training ground for the criminals of the future. When arriving he gets a boisterous welcome from the "boys", including being unceremoniously towed on a rug around the entrance by a taxi and then being hoisted aloft and blanketed. Next day he's caught playing cards by the chairman of the Board of Governors, who he tells to mind his own business not knowing how important a personage he is. The "boys" were out of control yet still wore impeccable school uniforms and caps - I say "boys" because half of them looked over 30. I think the film was given an "A" certificate by the UK censor so as not to set youth a bad example! Nowadays it's all they're set. It's all delightful stuff, one episode flowing into the next, and leading soon to the theft of a diamond necklace. Favourite bits: Gordon Harker as an ex-lag then dubious school porter and rather intense thief; playing banker with the "boys"; the singing of the rousing school song on Founders Day by the "boys"; the rugby match where the possession of the ball was the main thing. Hay certainly made an impression here!
The very best was still to come, but this is a joy to watch too and always a pleasant 80 minute time filler for me.