What a Carve Up aka There’s No Place Like Homicide (1961)

“Ring Up Madame Tussaud’s and see if anyone’s missing.”

What a Carve Up or There’s No Place Like Homicide is a black and white British comedy. It’s the story of Ernie (Kenneth O’Connor), a hapless, underpaid proofreader of horror novels who receives a visit from the family solicitor (Donald Pleasance). Ernie is told that he must attend the reading of Uncle Gabriel’s will in Yorkshire. Eagerly anticipating inheriting a fortune, Ernie and best friend Sid (Sid James), travel to Uncle Gabriel’s mansion on the Yorkshire Moors.

The greedy relatives gather in the gloomy mansion–there’s Major Guy Broughton (Dennis Price), his odd brother, Malcolm, waspish sister Janet, Uncle Edward, befuddled old Aunt Emily (Esma Cannon–I love this actress) and Nurse Dickson (Shirley Eaton who also starred in Goldfinger). Things begin to go horribly wrong, and it is clear that there’s a murderer on the loose inside the mansion.

Kenneth O’Connor and Sid James made many films together during their careers, and on screen, as a team, they work beautifully. Their best screen roles are in the Carry On film series, and they basically re-create that screen rapport for What a Carve Up. Ernie (Kenneth O’Connor) is timid, mild-mannered, and harmless–while Sid (Sid James) is crafty, worldly, and unflappable. For me, this film was quite a delight as it was wonderful to see so many of my old favourites on the screen again. Somehow, I’d missed this film, and I’d never heard of it, but a search of the career of Sid James brought the film to my attention. Unfortunately, the quality of the film (I have a VHS tape) was not the best. There were several occasions when vertical lines ran through the film. The fact that the film is set inside a gloomy old mansion did not help a bit. Furthermore, the sound quality was also quite poor. I had to really set the volume quite high, and there were several points when words were skipped. I did not consider it fair to rate the film on the quality, however. The film is rather cliched, and this makes it less funny, and so I would recommend this film only for fans of members of the cast list.

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Filed under British, Comedy

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