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  • Warning: Spoilers
    In it's perverse way,"The baby and the battleship" is a small masterpiece. It is the archetypal Lower Deck comedy,replete with Shepperton Cockneys wise in the way of the world,Dartmouth Naval College types who think - mistakenly -that they actually run the ship and noisy over-exciteable foreigners (in this case Italians) for our boys to patronise cheerily. As a bonus there is an Admiral who looks and sounds as if he has escaped from a touring production of" H.M.S.Pinafore".He is played by Mr D.A.Clarke - Smith who was 68 years old at the time and sported a monocle. He treats AWOL seaman Knocker White (Sir Richard Attenborough) as if he was a schoolboy caught with a catapult in his pocket and he made me laugh more in his five minutes screen time than the entire oeuvre of Rowan Atkinson. Puncher(Sir John Mills) a former navy boxing champion is Knocker's oppo(see how easy it is to fall into this navy argot?).They go ashore in Italy to see a former girl-friend and her family and through a series of what can only be termed unfortunate events the youngest member of her family(the eponymous "baby") ends up aboard ship. This is the cue for a number of jolly japes and wizard wheezes that date back at least to the Will Hay era.Sir John Mills is rather touching as the naive (and just a tad punchy) former fighter.If he is not entirely convincing he certainly makes a better job of it than his fellow theatrical namesake Sir John Gielgud would have done. Many much-loved British comedy stalwarts thoroughly enjoy themselves throughout.Lionel Jeffries,Harry Locke and Duncan Lamont excel amongst the O.R.s,Michael Hordern,Ernest Clarke and Thorley Walters liven things up on the bridge.I thought I spotted Patrick Cargill,but he isn't credited. Bryan Forbes,impossibly young and handsome,plays the university graduate National Serviceman and possibly wrote some of the funniest dialogue. "The baby and the battleship" is by no means cutting edge cinema,no envelope-pushing here,thank you.It is an average Brtish service comedy of half a century ago,with most of the cast long gone to the great Audition Room in the sky.Films like this are no longer made:small-scale homely family comedies with audience-friendly stars and a supporting cast of familiar faces,made for £4.50 in three weeks. Until they make a comeback(and don't hold your breath)you can watch "The baby and the battleship" with an exquisite mixture of pleasure and nostalgia.And please feel free to laugh unreservedly for,as the commentator said in "The Golden Age of Comedy",ghosts may be listening.
  • The Baby and The Battleship is one of those movies that can be instantly forgotten about as soon as the end credits roll. It is an innocent film for an innocent audience - no blood, no gore, no violence, no profanity, no sex, no anything much. Still, it is worth a look, if only to spot some famous names in the days of their relative youth - Richard Attenborough, John Mills, John Le Mesurier, et.al. Not great nor terribly funny but it does have a few light-hearted moments that warm the heart.
  • When your light airy comedy can boast Richard Attenborough and John Mills as its leads, well it's in safe hands as a time filler at least. The Baby And The Battleship is one of those affable comedies that filtered out of Shepperton Studios from time to time back in the day. Always crammed with stock British talent, they serve as a reminder, much like the Pinewood Studios comedies released in the same time frame, of simple honest enjoyment. No frills or attempts at insulting the viewers intelligence, they existed (exist) purely as a medium to be sampled without the need for dissection or deeper themed meanings (like some of Ealing's comedies for example).

    This effort revolves around two sailors, Knocker (Attenborough) and Puncher (Mills), who while on shore leave find themselves baby minding the brother of Knocker's Italian fiancée, the 13th born in the family no less! After a big punch up in the city, Puncher wakes up to find everyone has gone except the baby, who is still sitting in the last place Puncher had left him. Fretting and unable to find Knocker 9who's off with his lady searching elsewhere), Puncher smuggles the baby on board his ship and promptly enlists his ship mates to help him. Cue much mirth as first the ship sails leaving Knocker AWOL on shore, and secondly as macho sailors try to temporarily raise the child whilst simultaneously keeping him hidden from the ship's superiors; something that proves most definitely hard to do.

    As one can reasonably expect with a cast containing two of Great Britain's treasures, the acting is value for money. Backed up by a ships roll call consisting of Bryan Forbes, Michael Hordern, Michael Howard, Lionel Jeffries, John Le Mesurier and Gordon Jackson, it's easy to see why this comedy was steered safely into port. Also having some nice outer location work at Abattoir Wharf in Corradino, Malta, is a plus as well. The Baby And The Battleship probably isn't a film you would want to watch time and time again, but hey, sometimes once is enough to leave a safe and favourable impression. 6/10
  • My FTA usually puts on great old movies with regularity and I am always eager to watch because I don't see much these days that has any real depth to the story, so I usually chew it up eagerly. So, this afternoon, I was treated to "The Baby and the Battleship". The name put me off a bit, but I saw that the there was quite a stellar cast and decided to stick with it while lying on the lounge and eating a nice hot pork dumpling soup with some jasmine tea (sounds kinda snotty-nose doesn't it?)

    Well....that's where it ended.

    If you thought that you were getting class with John Mills and Richard Attenborough, forget it. They have done better things when visiting the toilet when they get up of a morning. The whole movie is a milquetoast presentation with a poor shot at Marx Bros. mayhem that misses by quite a bit. From start to finish, the whole plot is just an unbelievable potpourri of badly written comedy, stiff acting and rubbish lines in general. It doesn't surprise me that the movie was panned by critics back in the 50's. What did stand out was the editing of the movie. My wife and I sat and watched the movie thinking that the baby (quite mature) that was used would have been blubbering intensely at the end of most scenes, but I believe that, due to editing, the kid was made to look like a total actor that was in control of itself at all times, which is more than I could say for the grown-ups. The rest of the cast were made to look like badly written cartoons.

    Do yourself a favor and give this one a miss. The big names in this movie have made better and this must have been just a quick money-maker while they were in between projects.

    It may not seem like it, but I'm lost for words with this one.
  • richardchatten29 December 2020
    Based on a novel by Anthony Thorne. If you like the title you'll love the film; and enough people did in 1956 to handsomely repay British Lion splashing out colour & widescreen on this fey little trifle set against an imposing nautical backdrop.

    The young Bryan Forbes presumably wrote most of his own lines for his role as the crew's other boy wonder if his additional dialogue credit is anything to go by. I hope he wasn't responsible for the 'Russian' spoken by visiting Marshal Andre Morell (while the baby supplied his own gurgles and howls). Five years later star Richard Attenbrough was putting up the money for the lad's directorial debut (Forbes', not the baby's).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There were plenty of naval comedies made in Britain in the 1950s, a perennial favourite with sailor-loving audiences, and this is a typical example of its kind. It's neither better nor worse than many similar pictures but it has an exemplary cast of famous film stars and seasoned character actors who all do very well with the obvious material and scripting. Essentially Richard Attenborough and John Mills team up in order to hide a baby from the officers on deck, and lots of wacky shenanigans ensue. It's entirely dated, of course, and rather sentimental, but warm and lovable with it.
  • A very good British cast of the day made this peacetime Navy picture. The comedy here is all situational, with wonderful humor. John Mills plays Puncher Roberts, who smuggles the Vespucci baby aboard their battleship waiting the return of his friend, Knocker White, played by Richard Attenborough. He would then give the baby to Knocker to take off the ship and return to his sister who had been dancing with Knocker when mayhem broke out and everyone scattered. Only Puncher wound up with an unattended baby. But Knocker doesn't make it to the ship in time, and it gets orders to pull out at night as part of a naval war games.

    From then on, Puncher, joined by his friends in the rest of his squad, scurry around the ship to keep the baby hidden. They are one step ahead of being discovered, and some very good, warm-hearted humor unfolds as all these gobs get attached to junior.

    Some extra things happen when a visiting marshal from another country comes aboard to observe. It has a good ending, and Attenborough has to sweat it out quite a bit on land when the uncles of the Italian family start pressing him to sure the baby is returned. One can't help thinking that Knocker gets what he deserved, and what could have been the hoosegow and worse for some guys turned out good for all.

    A very funny scene is in the officers mess when a couple officers notice that a number of things seem to have suddenly gone missing. They sit down to eat and their napkin holders are empty. Below deck, the baby squad is fixing things for junior, for whom the dinner napkins prove to be just the right size and shape for diapers.

    Roberts has one very funny scene when he sings a lullaby to the baby where they are holed up in the lock-up room. "I paid six pence to see, a tattooed Scotch lady." Read the rest of this under the Trivia section of the film on this IMDb page. The best line in the film is when Mills' Puncher Roberts says, "You know, I never feel safe when officers turn on the charm."

    Mills and others give very good performances here. This isn't a great comedy or drama, but it is a light-hearted, fun film that the whole family might enjoy. It has some very good scenes of Royal Navy ships sailing and on maneuver at sea.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Considering the array of dramatic and comedic talent in the cast of 'The Baby and The Battleship' - Richard Attenborough, John Mills, Lionel Jeffries, Michael Horden, John Le Mesurier, Kenneth Griffith, Gordon Jackson and more - you would think it would be impossible for the film not to have some entertainment value. But this film pretty much achieves it.

    Displaying all the worst aspects of mid-1950s British cinema, the film snoozes through by falling back on dreary Italian stereotypes and the most uninteresting bunch of sailors you're ever likely to come across.

    Most baffling of all, after all the effort a group of sailors put into hiding the baby from the authorities when it is discovered it doesn't really seem an issue at all!

    The best that can be said about the film is that the child in the central role gives a good performance.

    A real disappointment.