The Plank (1967)

  |  Comedy

The Plank (1967) Poster

Classic short British comedy, full of stars, about two workmen delivering planks to a building site. This is done with music and a sort of "wordless dialogue" which consists of a few ... See full summary »



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Eric Sykes


Eric Sykes

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21 August 2013 | Lejink
| Two short planks
I really wanted to like this British comedy short from the mid-60's. Although just before my time, Tommy Cooper and to a lesser degree Eric Sykes could reasonably make me laugh on their TV variety or sit-com shows plus I came to this piece after watching a rather fawning TV biography of the recently deceased Sykes containing eulogies of praise from the surprising likes of Eddie Izzard, Michael Palin and others. Sykes wrote and directed this off-beat, near-silent short move about two dozy workmen's encounter with a plank of wood and peopled it with friends and colleagues of the time, including the inevitable Hattie Jacques and Jimmy Edwards, but also in small parts if you closely enough the likes of Bill Oddie, Jim Dale and Jimmy Tarbuck. But the humour really is quite dated. Sykes makes reasonable use of running gags but the sketch-like sequences often run on too long and much of the material is somewhat predictable and stilted, even resorting lazily to sexism as a young female hitch-hiker gets manhandled for her trouble.

In its favour, the hitch-hiker section notwithstanding, the humour is clean, gentle and inoffensive. I didn't really think Cooper and Sykes gelled together in their roles as two chippies off the old block and while I acknowledge the debt paid to Sykes comedy heroes of the Silent Era, most obviously Laurel and Hardy, there the comparison ends, indeed I was reminded more of Crackerjack's Peter Glaze and Don MacLean (now they were my era!), hapless double-act more than the immortal Stan and Ollie.

The film's a nice little document of old-school comedy of a bygone age but sad to say it hasn't aged well and in truth is more a museum piece nowadays than genuine entertainment.

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