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  • Convict 99 is directed by Marcel Varnel and collectively written by Jack Davis Jr, Marriott Edgar, Val Guest, Ralph Smart and Cyril Campion. It stars Will Hay, Moore Marriott, Graham Moffatt, Googie Withers, Peter Gawthorne, Basil Radford and Dennis Wyndham.

    Dismissed from his position as headmaster at St. Michael's School, Dr. Benjamin Twist (Hay) applies for a job at another school. Inadvertently going into the wrong interview room, Twist finds himself offered the job because the interviewers think he is a John Benjamin, a tough Australian who has applied for the Warder's job at Blakedown Prison in Devon! Twist in charge of a prison? One that houses some of the toughest criminals in Britain! Oh no...

    After the monster success of Oh, Mr. Porter! a few months previously, it was always going to be hard for Will Hay's next film to compete. And so it proved. While Convict 99 falls some way below the standard set by "Porter", some of the harsh reviews back on the film's release were misjudged. The prison setting seemed to bother many; more so the picture of prison life painted, with a few critics bizarrely thinking it was a satire on prison reform!

    Convict 99 is a standard Will Hay/Gainsborough Pictures romp, it milks the mistaken identity theme for all its worth and slots in a few very funny set-pieces along the way. Re: Twist breaking rocks and losing his sledgehammer, the betting shenanigans and the break out of prison and break into the bank. The famed trio of Hay, Marriott and Moffatt don't get much time to interact together, which is disappointing, in fact Moffatt is under used, but Marriott's Jerry the Mole is a wonderful character and the wise old Marriott perks things up when the film begins to sag. Good character actors Gawthorne, Radford and Wyndham ensure the material doesn't fall flat, while Withers holds her end up well in a male dominated screenplay. 7/10
  • ...but yet SO ridiculous that it draws you in and you have to stay watching to see what happens.

    Benjamin Twist was a school master, and he's at this agency wanting a job in a school for reformed boys. But a general misunderstanding/mistaken identity gets him instead a different job, that of a prison governor! You see the man they wanted for the job is called Mr. Benjamin, as in *last* name Benjamin. So when everyone starts calling Mr. Twist 'Benjamin' (which is his first name), he just calls them all by their first names back and they all think he's such a riot. He does eventually realise their mistake, but at the same time finds out that the job pays £2000 a year; where the job he was actually after only pays £75. Well, being a prison warden isn't THAT much different from being schoolmaster to difficult boys, is it...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One of the difficulties in viewing Will Hay films is the reputation of "Oh, Mr Porter!" which is a classic comedy by any standards (although "Ask a Policeman" is my personal fave). Compared with 'Porter' the other films are bound to have flaws and "Convict 99" is no exception. It starts with Hay being mistaken for another man (who conveniently goes straight back to Australia) and given a job as a prison governor for which he is totally unfitted. On arriving at the prison he is mistaken for a convict, then released, then allows the convicts to run the place, then has to get himself out the trouble this lands him in (helped by the old lags themselves).

    As you can see, economy of plot isn't a virtue of this 80 minute film but it still generates a good share of laughs. When Hay learns that his prison job earns a generous salary and that the people who appointed him won't come near the place for three more years, it's a treat to see him mentally work out how much he can earn before he's rumbled.

    Although Graham Moffat and Moore Marriott are in the film they don't act as a team with Hay except in one short scene. For my money Marriott almost steals the film as 'Jerry the Mole' who has been compulsively tunnelling his way under the prison for forty years. He is a wonderful old maniac, completely dotty.

    The film is very well produced, too, with substantial-looking sets for the prison scenes. All in all the film works well and is still well worth watching after 70 years.
  • MartinHafer2 May 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    Will Hay, Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt starred in several cute comedies together--with Hay playing lead. I've seen several but I'd have to say of all the ones I've seen, this is the funniest and compares very well to the kooky comedies Hollywood was producing at the time.

    The film begins with a funny scene with Hay and his brother and sister-in-law and their kids. It seems that Hay has long over-stayed his welcome and they are anxious to get rid of him--so much so that the sister-in-law filled out some job applications for him! One, as a teacher at a nearby school, accidentally gets mixed up with one to be the warden at a prison and, inexplicably, Hay is hired to run the prison. Considering he's an absolute idiot, it naturally doesn't go as he'd like but somehow by the end of the movie it's all worked itself out--in a way that can only happen in movies. But, considering how funny it all is (particularly Marriott--who is even goofier than ever) you don't see to mind how crazy the plot becomes and how unbelievable the whole thing often is. Great kooky fun--well-acted and with a dynamite script.
  • What better compliment can I give it to say that, yes, it's not as funny or as well directed as "Oh, Mr Porter" and yes, Moffat and Marriott are underused, but it is still a Will Hay classic, and to my opinion its his second best movie.

    The plot is basic - Hay becomes in charge of a prison by mistake, having the same first name as the new governor's last name... he arrives drunk and gets mixed up with a new batch of (number 99) escapes in the process and the guards think Hay is Convict 99... 99 is recaptured and Hay then takes up his position as governor...prisoners run the prison...99 escapes with Hay's money...prisoners escape, get the money back and break into the bank to give Hay back his money.

    Okay so it makes little sense, but it is fun to watch!
  • "Conflict 99' is an enjoyable prison farce that puts one in mind of the 3 Stooges and Laurel and Hardy at their comedic best in the Thirties. Will Hay plays a school master turned convict turned warden in all less than 90 minutes. Moore Marriot is a stitch as 'Jerry the Mole,' an ancient forever breaking through walls and floors as he attempts to tunnel himself out. The great Graham Moffatt is on board as a high-pitched prison guard. I am an American who has developed a keen taste for British comedy, so I'm not sure how much many of my countrymen will get out of this one but it's worth a risk. I think this film compares favorably with the 5 other Hay, Marriot and Moffatt films that I have viewed on-line.
  • This is one of the many Will Hay films that were made in the early 1900's, and in case you didn't know, Will Hay was a true British comic genius. Convict 99 Hay plays a school teacher who is being transferred to another school but due to a mix-up with some names he is mistaken as a prison governor and sent to some tough prison down in Devon. To make it worse when he arrives in a drunk state he is mistaken for a convict. From beginning to end this film is full of laughs. Original British comedy is truly a gem; Will Hay does comedy brilliantly and this film is no exception and as with most of his other films it also stars crazy old Moore Marriott and funny kid Graham Moffatt who add to the laughs as well. The story isn't half bad as well and you love how the characters react to different situations. Don't always turn away from black & white movies, especially the comedies, I'd give Convict 99 a 10 out of 10 any day, pure AWESOMNESS.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    CONVICT 99 is another genteel Will Hay comedy that crams a lot of madcap comedy into the short running time. Hay plays the usual bumbling schoolmaster who, through various surrealistic escapades, is firstly mistaken for being a new prison governer, and then further mistakenly thrown behind bars himself. When he resumes the role of governer, he proves to be the ultimate in soft touches. Hay's movies are very much of their era and how much you enjoy them depends on how funny you find the actor is. I can take them or leave them, if I'm honest, but they do prove easy viewing.
  • Prismark1024 September 2018
    I try not to get engulfed with nostalgia when I watch something that is old and in black and white. You might make allowances for the time a film was made but too often the memory cheats.

    Sometimes you watch old stuff you might had found amusing as a kid but looking at it again, it is woeful stuff. Here, Will Hay looks like he cannot even remember his lines.

    Hay plays Benjamin Twist, an out of work schoolmaster who becomes Governor of Blackdown Prison because of a mistaken identity with the applicant who came up all the way from Australia for the job interview.

    However when Twist arrives in prison he gets mistaken for a convict at first. Later he gets blackmailed when people who know who he really is threaten to expose him.

    There is some fun knockabout stuff with Moore Marriott as the veteran inmate trying to dig his way out of prison for decades.

    It just descends into long winded silliness that lacks any type laughs.
  • JohnHowardReid28 March 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    Not copyrighted and never released in any size or form in the United States. U.K. release through General Film Distributors: July 1938. Never theatrically released in Australia. 87 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Through a series of typical misunderstandings, Dr Twist gets himself selected as prison governor but winds up as convict 99.

    VIEWER'S GUIDE: I cannot understand the British censor's "Adult" classification. Perhaps he thought that Twist's insobriety which leads to his downfall would disturb children, though I see it as a good moral lesson. Or perhaps he thought that the prison system was unjustly lampooned and criticized, thus causing children to lose faith in British justice. Or was it all the slapstick knockabout material that made him think children can't stand to see people knocked on the head or fall down holes or be brow-beaten by cretins or be diddled by smarties? Children are too sensitive for that sort of stuff, are they? Not my kids!

    COMMENT: Not one of Hay's best comedies, though it does have three or four absolutely hilarious moments, including Twist's encounter with Slim Charlie and a bank robbery in reverse. Why it is not as consistently funny is a bit of a mystery as the material is certainly promising and the players are nothing if not enthusiastic. And it has all been produced on a breathtakingly lavish budget. I have the feeling that maybe the players are trying just a bit too hard and that maybe the situations would have been more amusing had a more casual approach been adopted. Also I feel that some of the jests are overworked. Despite her prominence in the cast list, Googie Withers has but a small role, whilst both Kathleen Harrison and Basil Radford disappear from the plot at early stages. We also miss a prison song. Why didn't the scriptwriters think of that? It would have enhanced the school-jail relationship no end as well as providing amusement on its own account.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This British comedy stars Will Hay with two frequent supporting players who made some very funny films together in the 1930s. Hay is Dr. Benjamin Twist, Moore Marriott is Jerry the Mole and Graham Moffatt is Albert Brown. A huge supporting cast adds to the humor here, especially among prison inmates.

    "Convict 99" has such a ridiculous plot that it brings chuckles just thinking about it. What Hay does to the British penal system is so over the top outlandish that the public might want to be sentenced to his prison. As he tells the convicts during his first meeting as warden (after having been one of them), his aim is to change the concept of the prison walls from one of keeping people in, to one of keeping the riffraff out.

    What a hoot of a hootenanny this film turns out to be – behind bars, of course. Hay gives a new twist to treatment of hardened criminals. His ways as a warden are sure to raise laughter for those who enjoy wacky comedy.
  • Will Hay starring once again with trusty second bananas Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt plays a schoolmaster who's been kicked out of his last employment. Seeking a new job he's made governor (warden to us Yanks) of a prison. But through a wonderful series of mishaps arrives much like Robert Redford did in Brubaker. Takes them a while before they realize he is the new governor.

    Once there the prisoners realize that they've got themselves a Captain Parmenter like pigeon. Hay's so stupid and so full of himself he thinks he's doing grand things. The cons realize that if they just make him look good they can turn the place into a country club and do.

    Marriott plays a lifer who has tunneled just about everywhere in the system, but hasn't escaped yet. Moffatt plays a simple and trusting prison guard. All three are bloody marvelous as the British would say.
  • I had ordered the marvelous Oh Mr Porter from my DVD rental firm and was sent Convict 99 by mistake. This is not a patch on Oh Mr Porter; indeed I found it alternately boring and pathetically unfunny. It might have been a hoot in 1938, but it has not worn well. The backchat between Will Hay, Moore Marriott and Graham Moffat, hilarious in Oh Mr Porter, is here irritating and totally unfunny. The story is, of course, completely unbelievable, but that doesn't matter if the situations are comic, or the dialogue amusing. I just thought the whole thing a total waste of time. I'm trying to get Oh Mr Porter to reassure myself how funny Will Hay and his team can be. A complete dud.
  • Mr Twist, an ex-headmaster looking for work, is mistaken for another man and gets the job of prison governor. If mistaken identity, gag-falls and extraordinary yet unbelievable situations make you laugh, then this is the film for you. Brace yourself for very mild humour.

    I usually enjoy a good old farce, but this film didn't measure up. It's only really worth watching if you have no other films of the genera on your list. However a special nod to the acting of Kathleen Harrison who briefly plays Mr Twist's long suffering sister-in-law. Another nod to the young prison guard who aids Mr Twist in his capers.

    Most of the humour is based on people continually and unbelievably mistaking Mr Twist for things he is not.