17 December 2017 | boblipton
Harker Stars in an Oddly Appealing Farce
I'm using to seeing Gordon Harker as a star character actor in British movies, but he's got the lead here, as a merchant banker out to corner the market in cloves -- those things you stick in ham. He's got plenty of people out to take him: his wastrel son, Richard Hearne, who's mulcting him out of money on the speculation that he's a composer, turning out symphonic versions of "John Peel" when he doesn't know a staff from a semi-quaver; Frank Pettingell as a business rival, who wants to do him dirt on general principles and thinks he has inside information to break his corner and Harker; and the usual assortment of reporters, who don't care who gets thrown to the sharks, so long as there's blood in the water.
When the movie starts, it looks like Harker deserves it; he's smug, pompous, self-centered and unfeeling. Yet, under the direction of the reliable Leslie Hiscott, a remarkable thing happens: without altering Harker's character at all, the script makes him, not the hero of the piece, but the sympathetic protagonist. He's like a cut-rate George Arliss in his behavior, sailing through shallow shoals through the grace of his screen writers and a consistent performance. The movie has no great scenes or performances, but it remains watchable throughout.