Your Past is Showing AKA The Naked Truth (1957)

naked truth“I’ve always considered murder to be rather un-English. I mean, one’s got to draw the line somewhere, hasn’t one?”

In Your Past is Showing, a seedy blackmailing journalist Nigel Dennis (Dennis Price) uncovers the deep, dark dirty secrets of various VIPs and then threatens to expose the nasty details in his potboiler tabloid called The Naked Truth (the film’s alternate title).

The film begins with slimy Nigel Dennis approaching his latest victim. Dennis Price is perfect for this role with his unique, unusual and almost impossible blend of obsequious, respectful insolence. While the film makes it clear that Dennis has many victims, for the purposes of the story, the plot concentrates on four victims: philanderer and shady insurance racketeer Lord Henry Mayley (Terry-Thomas), comedian and slum landlord Wee Sonny MacGregor (Peter Sellers), author and unwed mother Flora Ransom (Peggy Mount), and model Melissa Right (Shirley Eaton). Dennis approaches each of his victims individually and the film shows the characters in their unblemished lives and then Dennis exposes the ugly truth to each victim by showing  the tacky Naked Truth magazine featuring an expose on the victims unless they pay 10,000 pounds.

Wee Sonny MacGregor, for example, is a well-loved television personality, and in his programme, which caters to seniors, he brings on stage various frail elderly guests who then perform some amateur act–one elderly man plays a penny whistle for example. MacGregor publicly acts very generously to his guests, showing tolerance and patience, but in reality, he’s a slum landlord who keeps his elderly tenants in the most hideous conditions. The scenes depicting MacGregor’s show are brilliant as MacGregor frequently comes on stage dressed identically to his ancient guests, and he even mimics their mannerisms. The patronage involved in MacGregor’s behaviour seems to escape his adoring audience, but the plot shows the hard rather vicious man just beneath the surface of the benevolent Wee Sonny MacGregor act.

The late, great Terry-Thomas delivers a tour-de-force performance as the beleaguered Lord Mayley, a man who poses in costume to have his portrait painted just before Dennis presents him with The Naked Truth‘s slimy edition of the facts behind the life of this married, respectable peer of the realm. Lady Lucy Mayley (Georgina Cookson) has no illusions about her husband’s behaviour, but she is curious, and her curiosity leads to some of the film’s funniest scenes as Lord Mayley goes to great lengths to try and deceive her.

Indomitable author, Flora Ransom (Peggy Mount) is a bombastic woman who intends to marry her dotty fiance, the Reverend Cedric Bastable (Milles Malleson). The toast of literary circles and adored by her insipid, nervous daughter Ethel (played brilliantly by the talented Joan Sims) , Flora Ransom doesn’t want the truth about her past to make the cover of The Naked Truth.

Shirley Eaton as model Melissa Right doesn’t get much of the story, and the film’s comic elements rest on the considerable talents of the rest of the cast. The film is a showcase for the talents of Peter Sellers as he slips effortlessly into multiple characters donning disguises and a variety of accents along the way.

While the victims contemplate paying the blackmailer…or the alternatives, fate brings them together. And collectively, they come up with a solution. Your Past is Showing, from director Mario Zampi, is a delightful, good natured British comedy and is certain to please fans of the cast.

A few lines from the film:

“Rely on that stupid idiot? No thank you. I’ll rely on my bomb. And now for the gunpowder….”

“I fell by the wayside.”

“My wife spends a lot of money. If there’s any left over, I spend it.”

“So-called policemen masquerading as ordinary citizens.”

“We’ve run right out of the Geli.”

“Murder by a figment of the imagination.”

“Push him under a bus. That’s the only way to get rid of pests like that.”

“Mumsy, oh mumsy darling. Are you alright?”

 

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