April 16, 2014

Films

A Jolly Bad Fellow – 1963 | 94 mins | Comedy | B&W

Plot Synopsis

A Jolly Bad Fellow

Jolly Bad Fellow is a misfiring black comedy based on the novel Don Among the Dead Men by C.E. Vulliamy. The film was developed by Robert Hamer to recapture the glory of his greatest success, Kind Hearts and Coronets, but following his premature death in 1963, Don Chaffey took over directorial duties. It never reaches the heights of the Ealing classic despite a contemptuously droll script co-written by Hamer as there is little moral righteousness to McKern’s unsympathetic character.

Bowles-Ottery (Leo McKern) is the only Senior Common Room scientist at Ockham, a university in the Oxbridge tradition. He is also a humanist and a TV personality with a zest for living at odds with his colleagues. He aspires to the John Aubrey professorship for which an election is taking place. In a lab experiment he accidentally discovers a new poison which induces hysterical behaviour before causing death without leaving any trace. Bowles-Ottery uses this to firstly eliminate Dr Brass, who threatens to expel Mrs Bowles-Ottery’s wastrel nephew. Then the ambitious professor uses the poison to dispose of his scholarly his opponents.

His research assistant, Miss Brooks (Janet Munro), who has seduced him, now blackmails him into a promise of marriage. Following his affair with Miss Brooks, Bowles-Ottery discovers that his wife, Clarinda (Maxine Audley), is leaving him, and consequently he realises his affection for her. He responds by poisoning Miss Brooks. He gets home to find Clarinda has returned but the police arrive to arrest him. During the interview he takes a fatal cigarette she has unwittingly brought from the laboratory.

Production Team

Don Chaffey: Director
George Provis: Art Direction
Gerald Gibbs: Cinematography
Peter Tanner: Editing
C.E. Vulliamy: Novel
John Barry: Origina Music
Donald Taylor: Producer
Donald Taylor: Script
Robert Hamer: Script
H.L. Bird: Sound

Cast

Leonard Rossiter: Dr. Fisher
Miles Malleson: Dr. Woolley
Dennis Price: Prof. Hughes
Duncan Macrae: Dr. Brass
Maxine Audley: Clarinda Bowles-Ottery
Janet Munro: Delia Brooks
Leo McKern: Prof. Bowles-Ottery



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