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  • The Green Man is one of those movies that used to get a good deal of play on PBS stations but now seems to have disappeared. Too bad. It's a very funny example of wicked British black humor. The always excellent Alastair Sim plays an assassin attempting to blow up a fatuous politician who has found a hide-away for a tryst with his timid secretary. Raymond Huntley (perhaps best known as the family lawyer in "Upstairs, Downstairs") delivers the most hilarious soliloquy ever heard on the practices of English gastronomy in general and chopped toad as a delicacy in particular. Colin Gordon, familiar as one of the few actors to appear twice as Number Two in The Prisoner, does a send up of a rather precious poet who resembles T. S. Eliot. Wish this would appear on DVD.
  • c1mclaug26 December 2004
    Great performance from Alistair Sim surely Britains greatest actor (well I think so), with good performances from the rest of the cast, especially Terry Thomas a top hoe old boy performance. The film is farcical in the best tradition of British farce, man caught in compromising position with another man's fiancée under a bed, man caught in compromising position with same fiancée in her under garments, a murder,a missing body, plus confusion and misunderstanding, but all good clean innocent fun, maybe the plot does contain more holes than a swiss cheese.....is that not what farce is meant to be, the audience see the outrageousness and implausibility of the situation while the characters think it's all perfectly normal and explainable, but above all the film is truly funny and it contains one of the funniest lines in British film comedy, when the character Reginald Willoughby-Cruft (Colin Gordon) confronts William Blake (George Cole) and says, "by heaven I'd thrash the life out of you, if I didn't have to read the 9 o'clock news." How much more British can you get!!
  • As always Alistair Sim brings his genius for comedy to a great British farce from the fifties. He seems to give an effortless performance as ever, making today's so called "comic" actors a lesson on how to do it. Even Peter Sellers, good as he was, could not approach this guy. Unjustly underrated by the British Establishment (all too keen to shower knighthoods etc. on lesser talents)Sim can elicit mirth from the slightest gesture or subtle change of expression. And that voice!! Incredibly mellifluous and characterful, he delivers lines like no-one else can ,apart from , perhaps, Kelsey Grammar in "Frasier". Try to see all his movies and you will not regret it - when the movies are not so great he always is. Just because the films are old does not render them uninteresting or unwatchable. A pity younger movie buffs do not study actors like Sim any more.
  • A look at the cast should be enough to make anyone want to watch this film but with a beautifully complicated farcical plot and the best performance on screen of Alistair Sim, no-one should fail to enjoy its black humour. Even in a not-quite-top-drawer film, Mr Sim's acting would pull it out of the mire, but in this case everything is the tops. His expressive face is used to full effect throughout the film, nonce more so than his re-action to the lovely trio's rendering of Brahm's Hungarian Rhapsody. The initial re-action to the opening notes is funny enough but as the music progresses Sim's face and body movements are priceless. It's good too to see such luminaries as Arthur Lowe behind the counter in the electrical shop (instead of managing the bank in Walmington-on-Sea) and Arthur Borough (Glass of water for Mr Grainger) in early roles. A lovely performance too from a young Dora Bryan as Terry-Thomas's extra-marital acquaintance willing to perjure herself for the beautiful Jill Adams when she thinks her father has traced her to "The Green Man". All in all an hour and a quarter's really good fun.
  • A top cast starting with Alastir Sim, George Cole and Terry Thomas. Sim plays the pretty evil hitman, Harry Hawkins who is foiled in his quest to blow up a politician by vacuum cleaner salesman William Blake (George Cole). The plot twists and turns to such an extent that it's quite hard to follow, but brilliant all the same. Terry Thomas appears for only about 20 minutes, but adds a hint of magic to the whole film. As always Sim and Cole work together brilliantly on screen and it's just a funny, quite creepy, good film.
  • Utterly hilarious from the first montage of droll assassinations (not really funny in news-horror 2006) but hilarious in it's clunky 50s tone set by Alistair Sim, THE GREEN MAN is a situation comedy of mistaken identity (including the title) that is as sharp now as 50 years ago. From clumsy George Cole and his vacuum cleaner salesman antics at the wrong house (Windybanks? anyone?) to Terry Thomas' leering spluttering "Basil Brush" type pub skirt-chasing THE GREEN MAN lurches hilariously from one weird character and place to screamingly funny suspense with the radio on the wrong station at the pub of the title. This is one of the most unappreciated and funniest Brit pix of the 50s and I implore you to get a copy any way you can. It should be up there with THE LADYKILLERS or SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH in beloved UK comedies...it even has Richard Wattis! Delight! And Alistair Sim...a sublime dry performance of apt face contortions ...his look of disgust alone had me laughing for days.
  • drednm30 October 2011
    This little gem ranks with MONSIEUR VERDOUX and THE LADYKILLERS as the best black comedies.

    The hilarious Alastair Sim stars as Hawkins, a freelance assassin who merrily goes round the world blowing up pompous twits. He runs into trouble, however, when he writes some notes on his girl friend's (Avril Angers) desk, not knowing there is carbon paper underneath. His notes about her boss' (Raymond Huntley) stay at an inn called The Green Man arouse her suspicions.

    She investigates but goes to the wrong (and vacant) house runs gets bumped off by Hawkins' associate who then and runs into a pushy vacuum cleaner salesman (George Cole). When the new owner (Jill Adams) suddenly appears, the two begin a hilarious chase to tracks down Hawkins at The Green Man and stop the assassination.

    Of course they have no idea who Hawkins is and Huntley registers under an assumed name. They assume that a guest (Terry-Thomas) is the intended victim and turn the inn into a mad house.

    Sim, Cole, and Thomas are hilarious, each playing his patented British eccentric. Adams is very pretty. Good support from Angers and Huntley. Also good are the inn keepers (Arthur Brough and Dora Bryan), the associate (John Chandos), Colin Gordon as the fiancé, and the boozy music trio (Marie Burke, Lucy Griffiths, and Vivien Wood).

    Interesting to see Brough (Mr. Granger on ARE YOU BEING SERVED?) years before his television stardom.
  • Mr Sim is ideally cast as a seemingly mild but actually ruthless assassin. His perfect comic timing, expressive features and ability to switch on a sense of genuine menace are well used in this sprightly farce. George Cole is admirable as the well meaning young hero while Jill Adams is a radiantly beautiful and desirable heroine. As indisputably English as Wimbledon but much more fun!
  • This film deserves to be regarded as one of the gems of British comedy of the '50's and '60's and stars three of its most superb and inimitable performers, Alistair Sim, Terr-Thomas, and George Cole. The plot is generally this: Sim is an antique clock repairer who is induced to resume his erstwhile profession, that of assassin, and to do in a British diplomat headed for the Middle East. His plans, of course, go awry when he must silence the diplomat's secretary whom he has been pumping for information, but has now found him out. The woman is lured to the adjacent, unoccupied house, but Sims' assistant batches the job. The fiancée of a BBC broadcaster who owns the house and a vacuum cleaner salesman who happens to be there, catch on and are determined to thwart the assassination, which is to take place at a seaside inn called The Green Man.

    The comedy, literate, sophisticated, and droll, is effortless and uncontrived, with a bit of social comment subtly thrown in. The film is briskly paced and a delight from beginning to end. Alistair Sim, an eccentric Scot who turned down a knighthood, was a master of drama (his Scrooge is impeccable), but it was at comedy that he most often worked, and with his expressive voice and face, his performances were sublime. George Cole, who plays the vacuum cleaner salesman, was adept at playing befuddled innocents and is perfect. (He was often teamed with Sim and was in fact his adopted son. Cole's wife, Eileen Moore, is also in the cast.) Many other Brit film faves such as Raymond Huntley, Dora Bryan, and Colin Gordon are featured as well, and of course there is the irrepressible Terry-Thomas, who is always a kick. Jill Adams, as the girl, should also be mentioned; she was very engaging and deserved more parts.

    The film leaves the viewer wanting for nothing and is a masterpiece of incidental comedy. Anyone enjoying films such as The Naked Truth, Laughter in Paradise, or The Lavendar Hill Mob will love The Green Man.
  • Great Ealing farce in the Kind Hearts and Coronets murder-comedy stylee, revolving around Sim's hitman (specialising in slapstick bomb-hits) plotting the death of a prominent businessman, and George Cole's vacuum cleaner salesman, out to thwart the killer...Room for plenty of comedy shenanigans as the top cast blunder around leaving clues and confusing each other, building to a climax at the country inn of the title. Thoroughly enjoyable for fans of the genre, with just a little bit of Terry-Thomas thrown in near the end to add his unique suave zest to a very appealing mix. Expect the thrills to come from Sim's eyebrows and laid-back attitude, and Terry-Thomas' 'tache, rather than the plot.
  • THE GREEN MAN is one of the funniest black comedies ever made, but it has been hidden from most movie fans because it came in a period of many films from Britain of equal value and with higher star quality (i.e., Alec Guiness and Peter Sellers as the star, rather than Alistair Sim, their equal in British cinema). Sim influence Guiness (who copied him in appearance in THE LADYKILLERS) and he appeared to better effect in film with Sellers (THE MILLIONAIRESS), but he never accepted knighthood or got the Oscar like Guiness did (nor did he get nominated for an Oscar like Sellers did on several occasions). So he gets an unfair short shrift, although there is considerable evidence that he was their total equal as an actor...certainly as a comic actor.

    Sim is a professional assassin, who blows up his targets. However, he insists on agreeing to destroy the men he is hired to kill only if they happen to be rather pompous as well as politically objectionable. At the start of the film one sees him blow up a Latin American dictator with a bomb in a soccer ball. He also blows up a self-important millionaire with an exploding hammer (used to call a stockholders meeting to order). His target in the film is a rising, self-satisfied politician...and who can better personify smug self-satisfaction in British comedy than Raymond Huntley. Sim plans to hoist Huntley with his own petard - a recording of his normal, boring speech, set to blow up at a particular moment of dullness. Huntley is going to a seaside resort for the weekend, and Sim plans to go after him.

    Unfortunately for the normally careful Sim, a cleaning lady stumbles on his plot, and he has to tie her up. But she manages to get the attention of vacuum cleaner salesman George Cole, who slowly realizes that the "helpful" Sim is not so helpful. Sim manages to get to the hotel, but Cole soon follows him.

    Huntley is there, but his weekend is not so clean - he has a young lady there for some non-political activity. Also at the hotel (which is called "The Green Man") is Terry-Thomas, also there for the weekend, and hoping to become lucky. There is also the normal set of normal eccentrics that people British farces like this.

    So the last half of the film is following the following points: Will Sim manage to avoid Cole, and get at Huntley? Will Cole find Sim, and save Huntley, without getting Terry-Thomas sufficiently angry at him for spoiling all of his attempts at picking up ladies? And will Huntley have his improper weekend, and enjoy hearing his own speech? Sim's bomb plot against Huntley hits one snag which for sheer unexpected effrontery is hard to top - he sets it in motion, only to find he has not counted on an active critic. It is only a ten second bit in the film, but it is a hoot!
  • Hawkins is a timid watchmaker, he also has a part time job as an assassin!, his targets are always the people we all love to hate. He is called out of retirement to do one last job, rid the world of grumpy MP, Sir Gregory Upshott, but a number of things {and people} are getting in his way. He eventually tracks Upshott to a seaside hotel called The Green Man, here he hopes to finally enact the assassination, but things are only just starting to get interesting.

    The Green Man is a fantastically enjoyable romp that crams as many genre staples in as it can, mistaken identities, farcical situations, and out right panic all come together to play out 80 minutes of pure joy. Alastair Sim plays Hawkins and he's a total delight, his scenes in the hotel, particularly when engaging the resident dowagers, are wonderful, a lesson in facial comedy. Back up comes from a youthful George Cole, a pretty Jill Adams and that always excellent rapscallion, Terry-Thomas. Produced by the dynamite team of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, The Green Man is a British treasure, highly recommended for anyone who needs a pick me up, 9/10.
  • alexgreig12 December 2006
    The wonderful thing about this film is that the screenplay and the cast fit together like hand in glove. Raymond Huntley unsurpassable in his stock role as the pompous but devious politician, Terry Thomas in the car dealer/lothario role that so suits him, George Cole as the puppyishly eager but naive and accident prone vacuum cleaner salesman, Colin Gordon as the uptight BBC newsreader, Arthur Borough as the irascible hotel landlord, Dora Bryan as the helpful and slightly saucy barmaid, and above all Alastair Sim giving full range to all his facial and vocal capabilities, sinister and menacing one moment, joyous and charming the next. And they are all believable, not caricatures - we have all come across similar people in real life. The lovely Jill Adams provides the romantic interest. The plot is of course extremely contrived, and the settings rather stagey (it was originally a stage play), but this is pure British 50s comedy, not Carry on slapstick. One to cherish.
  • A murder, a deliberate mix-up with house numbers, a vacuum-cleaner salesman and a young bride-to-be in a compromising position. Oh, and a pompous politician about to be blown up by an assassin with a bomb in a wireless. It gets even better when these people are played by George Cole, Jill Adams, Raymond Huntley and of course the great Alastair Sim. This is a farce in the true British sense, with lots of running about, hiding of bodies and misunderstandings. Add to the mix Terry-Thomas making the most of his modest role and the much underrated Colin Gordon playing a stiff BBC announcer on the edge of a nervous breakdown and we have the recipe for a wonderful Sunday afternoon film. Britain made this type of film with great aplomb in the 50's, perhaps because our National Character was so 'send-upable' at the time and we didn't mind laughing at ourselves. We don't make them now, which is why we go out and buy DVD's of 50-year-old comedies that have no equal. Superb.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Alastair Sim is Mr. Hawkins, a professional assassin working for middle eastern interests who want to stop the imminent visit by British politician Gregory Upshott(Raymond Huntley) from a visit to that area of the world. The place chosen for the "hit" is a coastal hostelry called "The Green Man" run by Arthur Borough ("Are You Being Served?").

    Unfortunately for Hawkins, a bumbling vacuum-cleaner salesman (George Cole) and the fiancé of a BBC news-reader (Jill Adams) are on to the plot and hope either to warn Upshott of his impending assassination or find where the explosive is hidden.

    Good turns by all of the above. Terry-Thomas, in a brief appearance as a philanderer who thinks his wife has set private eyes to follow him, is also amusing as usual. "The Green Man" is one of the few movies you'll wish was longer.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dear other reviewers: Basil Brush was based on Terry Thomas, not the other way round; it's "top hole" not "top hoe"; and "chop toad" is toad-in-the-hole made with chops instead of sausages (you bake them in batter and this particularly English delicacy has not been seen for about 50 years). Anyway, back to the plot. Alistair Sim is hilarious as a bomb-maker, and George Cole is if anything even funnier as a vacuum cleaner salesman "it beats as it sweeps as it cleans as it disinfects". The interiors should get a credit: the olde oake of "Windyridge", unchanged since the Arts and Crafts fashions of 1910 versus the pseudo-Regency of "Appleby", which is not going to go with Reginald's modern art (school of Klee or perhaps Bernard Buffet). I love the moment when Cole sits down at the piano to "play" one of the pictures! And imagine trying to get up to any hanky panky in a Victorian hotel where the kitchen shuts at 10. Michael Ripper excels in a small role as a waiter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE GREEN MAN is a delightfully old-fashioned British farce of the kind they just don't make anymore, worse luck. It's a fast-moving tale full of outlandish situations and larger-than-life characters and I loved every minute of it, in fact preferring it to the better-known Ealing classics of the era. The thing to note about this film is that it's funny, very funny, and never less than very funny. The set up works extremely well and the pacing never flags for a second. I caught it on television and was entranced.

    The film stars the inimitable Alastair Sim as an assassin working his way through a series of high-ranking officials with ease. Unfortunately for him, his latest murder is complicated by the arrival of an annoying vacuum-cleaner salesman, played with delightful relish by the excellent George Cole in the best performance I've seen him give. Cole realises something is up and enlists the help of the gorgeous Jill Adams playing a warm and exasperated bride-to-be as they attempt to stop another murder taking place.

    The film mainly takes place in a couple of locations. The first is two neighbouring houses, typical suburban homes that were at their best when murderous antics took place inside them (the fine little crime thriller DILEMMA came to mind when watching this). The latter action is set in an inn (the Green Man of the title) and becomes even more farcical and exciting. The exemplary supporting cast features Terry-Thomas, Raymond Huntley, Avril Angers, Dora Bryan, Cyril Chamberlain, Richard Wattis, and even bit parts for the famous faces of Arthur Lowe and Michael Ripper. There's nothing not to love about this one and I shall be purchasing the DVD forthwith.
  • Alastair Sim is a hired killer in this hilarious black comedy from the 50s. Mr. Sim's facial expressions alone make this movie worth repeated viewings. After a brief review of his life as a professional killer--narrated by Sim--we are treated to his attempt on the life of a British government official at a bed & breakfast called The Green Man. Alastair Sim is a favorite of mine. He's the best Scrooge ever, and his stint in the St. Trinian movies shouldn't be missed. But I laughed at him more in this film than in any other. And he's not all there is to this film. The script is nicely done with none of the padding such a story would get today. And despite this being an inexpensively done 50s British comedy it is amazing how the movie doesn't seem dated in the true sense of that term.
  • Excellent performances from Alastair Sim , George Cole , Jill Adams and Terry Thomas , in a very fifties British B/W comedy. The plot line is a bit weak but lots of fun if you like frantic farce.
  • Hilarious, flawless, consistently-paced script. Kudos to writers Gilliat & Launder. The witty dialogue and precision-cut plot pieces converge plausibly at break-neck speed. No lulls. No plot gimmickry. The most entertaining and skillfully acted comedy ever filmed, as far as I know, and I've loved British films for decades. Modern "comedies" can't come close - well - maybe the 1955 The Ladykillers is nearly as well-written and acted. Thanks for uploading!!! Now on DVD, Region 2. If you're a Region 1 user, this film alone is worth shelling out the $30 for a Region 2 player.
  • Alastair Sim was one of those straight actors who could adapt himself to comedy without effort. He was blessed with natural comic timing and frequently stole the show, whether he was the lead or a supporting player. "The Green Man" was one of the first of what would constitute the very best of British comedy for the next several years. The likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Tony Hancock, Terry Thomas, Ian Carmichael, Jimmy Edwards, Eric Sykes, Kenneth Williams, Leslie Phillips, Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd, Morecambe and Wise, Norman Wisdom, Bob Monkhouse, Joyce Grenfell, amongst others would re-invent British comedy for all time. The plot of "The Green Man" is taken from a successful play and therefore, it retains a low key approach. A seemingly timid and unassuming clock maker is actually an assassin who murders various political figures through various means. Alastair Sim's distinctive voice provides an amusing voice-over at the beginning, so as to highlight his early career in his chosen vocation. The laughs come thick and fast as George Cole and Jill Adams are in hot pursuit of Sim before he can execute his next job upon character actor Raymond Huntley. Terry Thomas makes one of his earliest film comedy appearances as someone who is convinced that his wife is wise to his extra curricular activities! He is very good. The scenes at the hotel which is at the centre of the film's plot, take "The Green Man" to a new level of hilarity. The writing is simply brilliant and there is also plenty of thrills. This is in the same league as "I'm Alright Jack," "Private's Progress," "School for Scoundrels" and others.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Green Man" is a wonderfully wacky British comedy. The film is based on a play of the same name. It must be the funniest comedy crime story ever written about a hit man. The plot is simple but it has subplots that spin off. So, a rather large cast of actors have substantial parts and scenes. Alistair Sim heads a tremendous cast, all of whom give superb performances.

    Sim is Hawkins, a hit man who formerly took jobs only to remove pompous, arrogant people. His method always was a bomb. But after the war he is lured out of retirement by a very wealthy foreign client to eliminate a British leader, Sir Gregory Upshott (played by Raymond Huntley), who plans to investigate the client. Hawkins has ingenious (and hilarious) ways of devising and planting bombs to do his dirty work. But this time, he and his accomplice make one blunder after another. John Chandos plays McKechnie, and the two men dislike one another.

    Enter a vacuum cleaner salesman, William Blake, played by George Cole. He puts further crimps in the planned assassination. A new next-door neighbor to Hawkins, Ann Vincent (played by Jill Adams) figures in the foil as well. When McKechnie mistakenly thinks he has done away with Marigold (played by Avril Angers), secretary to Sir Gregory, more problems arise.

    The title of the film is the name of the three-star inn that Sir Gregory will be staying at in a resort community on the coast. He plans a tryst there with his young, innocent secretary, before he takes a boat to go abroad. That's also where Hawkins plans to do him in. But The Green Man inn is itself a place of some wonderful characters who add to the mayhem and humor as the story plays out. William and Jill are beehives of activity trying to find Sir Gregory who is registered under a false name. They try to warn the inn owner of the plot, and he thinks they are drunk.

    Another fly in the ointment for Hawkins occurs when he discovers that the inn has a trio of ladies who provide music. His bomb is in a radio that he plans to switch for the radio in the sitting room. The bomb will go off at a certain point in a recorded speech that sounds as though it comes from a BBC rebroadcast. To keep the ladies out of the room so that he can be sure that Sir Gregory will be listening to the radio, Hawkins plies the three lady musicians with wine. They are very good musicians - on the piano, cello and violin; and they are hilarious in their interactions with Hawkins. Sims' facial expressions, signals to the women and gestures are riotously funny.

    Terry-Thomas appears on the scene as Charles Boughtflower, a philandering married man who has made a business trip excuse to his wife so he can visit his girlfriend, Lily (played by Dora Bryan). Lily is a clerk at the inn. Other characters have some very funny parts. Arthur Borough is the inn landlord, Richard Wattis is the doctor, Cyril Chamberlain is Police Sergeant Bassett, and Colin Gordon is Jill's fiancé, Reginald Willoughby-Cruft who is an announcer on the BBC. Eileen Moore is Sir Gregory's secretary, Joan Wood. The musical trio consists of Marie Burke as Felicity, Lucy Griffiths as Annabel and Vivien Wood as the leader.

    The film has an occasional witty line here and there, but mostly is a clever string of situations and events that are very funny. There even seems to be a little satire. When Marigold appears in the house hurt from having been attacked and left for dead by McKechnie, William calls a doctor. The conversation is humorous. Doctor, "Is she registered with me under the National Health Scheme?" William, "Look, doctor, forget the National Health Scheme. This is an emergency. Look, if you'll come 'round right away, I'll leave an emergency fee on the mantel piece." Doctor, "What did you say the address was?"

    This is one hilarious, superbly acted British comedy that should have everyone who watches it in stitches. The film is a must for a good comedy film collection.

    Here are a couple more favorite lines. For more funny dialog, see the Quotes section under this IMDb Web page of the movie.

    Ann Vincent, "He wasn't the real Mr. Bowstock, of course, because the real Mr. Bowstock would be Mrs. Bowstock's husband, if she had one alive. Which naturally, we don't know because we've never met her. But she might have. In which case, there would be two of them, but only one real one." Reginald Willoughby-Cruft, "I really can't bring myself to ask you to say that all over again, Ann."

    Ann Vincent, "How do you know she was murdered?" William Blake, "Well, people don't usually commit suicide in a boudoir grand."
  • The Green Man is actually a seaside hotel where an experienced but bumbling professional assassin, brilliantly played by Alastair Sim, plans to eliminate a pompous government official while he listens to himself making a boring speech on an exploding radio. In a complicated plot involving the bungled non-murder of Sim's ageing fiancée (played by Avril Angers), vacuum cleaner salesman George Cole becomes romantically entangled with Ann Vincent (Jill Adams). With cameo parts played by Richard Wattis as a doctor who is easily bribed, Cyril Chamberlain as an inconvenient chess playing police sergeant, Alexander Gauge as the chairman of a boring committee, Arthur Borough as the harassed hotel manager, Dora Bryan as the wounded pride hotel receptionist, and Marie Burke as the leader of a delightfully incompetent old ladies musical string trio, the laughs and action roll merrily along. Add the farcical Terry-Thomas as the philandering upper- crust Boughtflower, Colin Gordon as a neurotic broadcaster, and Raymond Huntley as Sir Gregory Upshott, the two-timing official who is to be murdered, the recipe for success is complete. The plot is discovered in the nick of time, George Cole throws the exploding radio out of the window, and the fleeing Alastair Sim is involved in two car collisions, crashing firstly into his fleeing assistant, McKecknie (John Chandos) and then backing into a police car. Cue the arrest of the assassins while George Cole gets his girl. Terrific stuff and very, very English.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Harry Hawkins is a middle-aged, rather timid man who makes a quiet living as a repairer of clocks. He's tall, bald, with a deep voice and lugubrious eyes...in fact, he looks a lot like Alastair Sim. Hawkins has another job. He's an assassin, specializing in bumping off puffed- up politicians, blustering generalissimos and all sorts of pompous people we dislike as much as he does. He uses his skill as a clockmaker to build ingenious bombs that sometimes take out more people than was intended, but that is simply an unpleasant side effect of the business. Now Hawkins has a new assignment. He will affect the permanent retirement of an officious member of parliament, Sir Gregory Upshott (Raymond Huntley). After discovering that Sir Gregory is off to a mysterious weekend at a genteel seaside hotel named The Green Man, Hawkins suddenly encounters more problems than he ever bargained for.

    The Green Man is one of those clever black comedies the British used to do so well, where murder and seduction are always conducted with the best of British manners. The classic of the genre probably is Kind Hearts and Coronets. This film was written and produced by the star team of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, who as writers, producers or directors, or all three or in any combination you can come up with, gave us some very good films in the Thirties, the Forties and the Fifties. For The Green Man, they decided to let cinematographer Robert Day have a crack at directing. It wasn't too long before they felt they needed to have a more experienced hand, so they called in Basil Dearden. Without taking a credit, Dearden directed much of the movie. As a consequence, The Green Man, in my view, doesn't flow seamlessly from one sequence to another. Still, it's a very funny, morbid film. The climax, when everyone arrives at The Green Man and the hotel is stuffed with some of Britain's best comic actors, when the action suddenly involves mistaken identities, adultery, lechery, time bombs and Chopped Toad, is excellent.

    Alastair Sim as Hawkins gives one of his funniest portrayals...ready for murder (in fact he bashes his "fiancé" after she discovers why he was so eager to woo her and learn where Sir Gregory was going to be) or ready for wooing (in a grotesquely delightful flirting scene between himself and the three genteel ladies of a music trio). Constantly under Hawkins feet is William Blake (George Cole), an ineffectual vacuum cleaner salesman, and Ann Vincent (Jill Adams), a delicious bride-to-be who is Hawkins next-door-neighbor. Although she doesn't want to buy a vacuum cleaner, she finally believes Blake when he says there's a body in her piano. While they realize Hawkins is up to murder at The Green Man, no one at the hotel believes them when the follow Hawkins there. Among the disbelievers are Charles Boughtflower (Terry-Thomas), the lecherous but nice pursuer of the hotel owner's wife; Arthur Borough as the landlord (if you watch Are You Being Served, you'll know him as Mr. Grainger); Dora Bryant as the landlord's wife, a bit flighty but perhaps not opposed to a bit of a tickle with Boughtflower; and, of course, Sir Gregory himself. But then the last thing Sir Gregory wants is either to be killed or to have publicity since he's staying the week-end with a nervous crumpet from the steno pool. Hawkins must rise to the occasion if he's to knock off Sir Gregory; William and Ann must find a way to stop him. All the while, the clock is ticking...and it's attached to the bomb Hawkins made which he is trying to leave next to his victim.

    There is a lot of fast-paced farce to The Green Man, especially at the hotel and at Ann's house. It all works because of the clever script and the skill of the actors. Terry-Thomas has a relatively small part, but he and the gap between his front teeth make the most of it. Jill Adams is wonderful to look at and, of course, we get to see her in some frilly underwear. George Cole, who made his reputation playing frustrated but well-intentioned small-time crooks (as in The Belles of St. Trinian's), does a fine job as a frustrated but well-intentioned nice guy hero. There's no doubt Ann will soon forget her condescending BBC news-reading fiancé, Reginald Willoughby-Cruft , and will become Mrs. Blake before too long. Cole, incidentally, was taken in by Sim and his wife as a teen-ager and became the boy's foster parents. Sim, of course, is incomparable, a star character actor who was unique. There are many satisfyingly funny scenes in this movie, not all of them involving Sim, but he is what makes the movie work. And finally, let's hear it for Raymond Huntley. He almost always was cast as an irritable, irascible, condescending, sometimes clever, sometimes dense civil servant, general, lawyer, businessman or spy. With scarcely changing his tone in delivering a line, he could be immensely unlikable or quite funny. As Sir Gregory, his comments on British cooking, when his companion orders Chopped Toad for dinner (a variation, I assume, on Toad in the Hole), are immaculately delivered. Huntley as Sir Gregory immediately makes us root for Sim the assassin.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    You mark my words, her mother's behind this. Mate in eight, mate: brilliant. Starts off with a bang; then sets the scenario. Side- splitting. There's an early charming exchange between hit-man Sim and his put-upon Scottish henchman, conjured up in a few choice remarks. "Your company is so hard to bear: I'll be glad when our association terminates". One thing leads to another. How do you do ? As rivals meet. The house nameplates are switched, and the pace hots up relentlessly, to reach its wonderfully fast and furious climax in 75 minutes. By which time I was rolling along with the brio of the trio, and choking on my vino, after the andantino. Impeccable dialogue throughout. Superb timing and pacing. They're out to get you. "I feel as if I'm being followed". Jill Adams is scrumptious. Dora Bryan is the soul of thoughtful, sensitive consideration and commiseration. "Sounds like your father on the phone --- do you want me to say you're not here ?" Wikipedia explains that the BBC announcer is "rather stuffy". A perceptive observation. Poetry to my ears.
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