16 February 2012 | dkelsey
A blot on the escutcheon of English film comedy.
This is an ill-advised and poorly executed revival of an out-dated type of comedy. Although purporting to be set in contemporary times (i.e. 1954), the nature of the plot and the style of its exposition are redolent of films made twenty years earlier, a feeling reinforced by the inclusion in the cast of those two old stalwarts of 1930s comedy, Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge.
The central plot is a murder mystery of the artificial Agatha Christie type, the contrived solution to which is expounded in dialogue so swiftly in the closing minutes of the film that after its test screening, one baffled viewer's notes read, "Who murdered who? And why?" The comedy is provided by Hulbert and Courtneidge individually, rather than in tandem, and consists of an embarrassing reprise of their well-worn bits of shtick. Courtneidge does not launch into her "two dozen double damask dinner napkins" routine, but one would hardly be surprised if she did.
Diana Dors is her usual beautiful self, but is ill-matched with Patrick Holt as her husband. The actress Ida Patlanski listed in the cast is also known as Pat Terry-Thomas, the wife of Terry-Thomas the English comic actor, whose dog Archie plays the role of Archie in this film.
The film has been restored and issued on DVD by the British Film Institute, together with production details which reveal that the final version of the film was influenced by the script writer, the head of the commissioning company, the producer, the director, one of the actors (Hulbert), and the British film censor, which perhaps explains its lack of cohesion.
Three years earlier, RKO had issued a comedy thriller, "Behave Yourself!" which too was about a young married couple becoming inadvertently embroiled in crime, in which too the wife's name was Kate and the dog's name was Archie. One wonders if the screen writer of "Miss Tulip" had seen that film and had residual memories of it. If so, it is a pity that he had not also remembered that the American film was not a mystery, the precise roles of all the miscreants being spelled out in the opening credits, leaving room for a great deal of comic action with far more entertaining results.