Dandy Dick – 1935 | 74 mins | Comedy | B&W
In another Pinero adaptation, for which he was given credit with Clifford Grey, Frank Miller and William Beaudine, Hay plays the Rev. Richard Jedd, vicar of a country church trying to raise funds to straighten the church spire. Against his principles, he is persuaded by his sister, who has a half-share in a racehorse, Dandy Dick, to back the animal in a big race and win the £250 he needs. There is some dirty work involving a plot to dope the horse, and a fire at the stables of which the vicar is unjustly suspected. He has to spend a night in the police cells, escaping with the help of the local constable’s wife, and arrives at the race track in time to see Dandy Dick pass the winning post.
His manservant (Syd Crossley), who has been backing Dandy Dick’s main rival, Bonny Betsy, confesses his villainy, and the vicar gives his blessing to his daughter’s romance with the son of a wealthy brewer – thus uniting spiritual and material resources in approved Victorian fashion. The Rev. Jedd is a more genial character than Hay’s later roles, and as he collaborated on the script, it is tempting to detect his own hand in a scene where the vicar goes for a spin in a plane, an attraction at the church fete, which ends disastrously. Hay was, of course, an experienced and skilful pilot, but the vicar is petrified at the idea of taking to the air, even as a passenger.
Supporting parts are mainly theatrical stereotypes, but there is one amusing character of the kind who were to plague Hay in later films: a stone-deaf member of the church committee who arrives at the vicarage for lunch firmly convinced that he has been invited and remains impervious to attempts to turn him away. Robert Nainby plays this part with engaging eccentricity, blissfully unaware of the confusion he causes wherever he goes and to whomever he speaks. In the portrait gallery of screen eccentrics, he merits a place alongside Moore Marriott‘s Harbottle and Dave O’Toole’s postman in Oh, Mr Porter!
Dandy Dick distils the essence of the play and conveys a pleasant English atmosphere which now seems, nostalgically, to have been a particular product of British cinema of the 1930s. Hay sits comfortably in the environment, but seems aware that the role is not testing his talent and that he is really waiting for a more rewarding film. For all its qualities and wayward charm, Dandy Dick is a mild bourgeois farce, and like Those Were the Days, is irredeemably stagey.
William Beaudine: Director
D Macdonald Sutherland: Art Direction
Jack Parker: Cinematography
AC Hammond: Editing
Walter C Mycroft: Producer
Frank Miller: Script
Will Hay: Script
Clifford Grey: Script
William Beaudine: Script
S Atkins: Sound