Thursday, 5 December 2013

Play Up The Band (1935)
"Music has charms to sooth the savage beast,
People require it like beer requires yeast."
Frank Atkinson and Stanley Holloway
This is a one of the cheap 'Quota Quickies' from the 1930s, made at Ealing Studios, before the studios had been established as a brand.
Available for probably the first time since its release in the 1930s (on Volume 7 of The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection, courtesy of Network DVD) Play Up The Band is one of those films that is - to be fair - only of interest to the most devoted of British cinema fans. That said, it's in a very reasonably priced four film box set, so  why not (to quote one of the other films) take a chance.
It's the story of a northern steam works brass band travelling down to London to compete in a national competition.
The lead is played by Stanley Holloway:

Whilst these handy screen-grabs from the opening credits save me from having to name others in the cast:

It's interesting to note that the film's comic songs (which are frankly rather uninspiring) were written by Frank Atkinson who appears in the film as Stanley Holloway's character's best mate. The film was also based on a story by Atkinson who had an interesting career. He acted, wrote songs for musicals, scripted ten films and yet finished his career as an uncredited extra in 'Davy', one of Ealing's final (and least inspiring) films.
One of the songs, on the subject of Sweeney Todd, shows the attitude and language of the times, including a lyric about "One big nigger sits down for a shave", leading Sweeney Todd to tell them to make a black pudding rather than a pie. Well, it was the 1930s.
There's not a great deal to say about the film, although it does afford us the opportunity to see Frank Atkinson and Stanley Holloway eating pig's trotters:
Stanley Holloway

Frank Atkinson
Furthermore, in the opening sequence the band is shown leaving the factory to head south to London. However, as far as I can make out, they appear to be walking around Ealing Studios:


There is a also subplot about a jewellery robbery, masterminded by a pair of American villains (with appalling American accents) masquerading as the Marquis and Marquise de Vaux (played by Arthur Gomez and Julie Suedo):
Arthur Gomez and Julie Suedo: We know she's a wrong 'un:  she can blow smoke rings
Julie Suedo

And the obligatory romance, between a night club singer and a Lord's son:
Betty Davies
Leslie Bradley

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