You Must Be Joking! (1965) Michael Callan, Lionel Jeffries, Denholm Elliott, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Bernard Cribbins Movie Review

You Must Be Joking! (1965)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Michael Callan in You Must Be Joking! (1965)

A British Rat Race

General Lockwood (Wilfrid Hyde-White) and Major Foskett, an Army psychiatrist (Terry-Thomas), assemble a group of soldiers from various regiments to take part in an initiative test. Those men taking part include Captain Tabasco (Denholm Elliott), Sgt. Clegg (Bernard Cribbins), proud Scotsman Sgt. Major McGregor (Lionel Jeffries), and American Lt. Tim Morton (Michael Callan). The test firstly requires them to escape from a maze and then go on a scavenger hunt to collect a list of items from a hood ornament on a Rolls-Royce to a set of ceramic flying ducks. Also on that list is to collect a bell being kept at Lloyd's of London and an autograph from French pop sensation Sylvie (Patricia Viterbo), some thing which may cause ladies man Morton a bit of a distraction.

I doubt that those behind "You Must Be Joking!" were intending this but when watched now this feels like one of those British comedies where they talked lots of familiar faces to play minor roles, probably only spending a few days each shooting their scenes. And then the whole movie is pieced together in such a way that it looks like everyone worked together on it. What I mean is that whilst Michael Callan and Lionel Jeffries are pivotal to the movie there parts are mixed in with a few scenes here and there for the likes of Bernard Cribbins, James Robertson Justice, Leslie Phillips and even Irene Handl.

Bernard Cribbins in You Must Be Joking! (1965)

What this means is that whilst "You Must Be Joking!" is meant to be a British mad cap scavenger hunt comedy filled with slapstick it actually thrives more on the actors and the humour they bring to their characters. As such you have Denholm Elliott giving it debonair whilst Bernard Cribbins is the fool who gets no luck whilst Michael Callan is the jack the lad ladies man. Of course it is funny because all the famous faces involved are so good at delivering this character based humour but it does mean that this ends up forgettable. In fact this ends up one of those movies where it is just as entertaining to spot faces from the past with the likes of Clive Dunn, Arthur Lowe, Jon Pertwee and Lance Percival all in minor roles.

What this all boils down to is that "You Must Be Joking!" whilst entertaining for those with a penchant for old British comedies is little more than a collection of actors delivering some character based comedy and is ultimately quite forgettable.