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.