The Amorous Mr. Prawn (1962)

“Before I went abroad, you made some immoral suggestions.”

Stationed at a remote army outpost in Scotland, and at the end of his military career, General Sir Hamish Fitzadam (Cecil Parker) and his wife, Dodo (Joan Greenwood) wish to buy a retirement cottage. Even with the general’s pension, they still need 700 pounds to complete the purchase. When General Fitzadam is called away for several months on military exercises, in his absence Dodo concocts a plan to earn the necessary money by converting their majestic military residence into a bed and breakfast. Dodo puts all those years of being a military wife to a new use as she plans and conducts “Operation Loot.” Left with a skeleton staff of 5 soldiers, Dodo at first resorts to blackmail to ensure the soldiers’ cooperation, but after two wealthy American guests arrive, the 5 soldiers discover that their new jobs are so lucrative, it makes their army pay seem a pittance in comparison.

The Amorous Mr. Prawn (AKA The Amorous Prawn), directed by Anthony Kimmins, is a comedy of manners blended with affectionate farce reminiscent of the wonderfully funny plays of Alan Ayckbourn. There are many familiar faces from the period: Derek Nimmo is Private Willie Maltravers–an army cook who longs to venture into more adventurous cuisine, Private Susie Tidmarsh (Liz Fraser) poses as the maid, and Corporal Sidney Green (Ian Carmichael) masquerades as the butler. Gravelly-voiced Joan Greenwood is perfection as the affectionate, loyal general’s wife. The film’s low-key, good-natured style is married with elements of local colour, and the result is a charming vintage comedy. Dennis Price plays the small but significant role of oily guest–Mr. Prawn.

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