13 December 2010 | Igenlode Wordsmith
Solidly entertaining ensemble piece
This is a good film in which to play spot-the-cameo, with a host of 'borrowed' actors making appearances in a very crowded cast list; there are echoes of the 'Carry On' films, with Sid James and Joan Hickson turning up and Vera Day delivering a very Barbara Windsoresque piece of totty, not to mention Talbot Rothwell (regular 'Carry On' writer) providing the script, and shades of "Genevieve" in the casting of John Gregson as a vintage-car-obsessed male lead.
It is not, however, primarily a comedy, in the sense of those other films. It is a well-written ensemble piece that sets out to depict one (admittedly very crowded) day in the life of a department store in the run-up to Christmas. Most of the escapades are reasonably light-hearted, but some of the staff are concerned by deeper secrets, and at least one character isn't precisely who he pretends to be! The interweaving of the various different plot strands is done without any imbalance to the story, and the film manages to switch smoothly through a wide range of different moods. Acting is good from all concerned.
This was an ambitious attempt by the small independent Adelphi Films to break into the top league; and although it is perhaps a good film rather than a great one, it doesn't appear to have deserved its fate, to sink on release and be quickly forgotten.