Meet Mr. Lucifer
Meet Mr Lucifer – 1953 | 83mins | Comedy | B&W
Meet Mr Lucifer was based on a play called Beggar My Neighbour by Arnold Ridley, who in the Twenties had written the melodramatic success, The Ghost Train (television fame awaited him in the Seventies, when he played the senile Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army), it starred Stanley Holloway as the Demon King in an unsuccessful provincial pantomime, who after an accident with the stage trapdoor finds himself in the infernal regions facing Mr Lucifer.
The devil believes that people are being made too happy by television when it should be making them miserable, and the film developed into a laboured and limp attempt at satire, showing how television can indeed make a few people unhappy, including Jack Watling and Peggy Cummins as a young married couple and a Scottish bachelor, Gordon Jackson, who falls in love with the Lonely Hearts singer on the screen, Kay Kendall. The rest of the film details the effects that the boob tube has on otherwise normal, rational British citizens (there’s even time for a swipe at 3D movies).
Perhaps its main interest now is the depiction of the awfulness of television standards in 1953, two years before the first ITV station opened, with appearances by tele-celebrities of the time such as Philip Harben. The film was directed by Anthony Pelissier, brought in from outside because of an unwillingness by the Ealing inner-circle to work on the film, many viewed it has a half-hearted attack on the threat from a new medium… Television!
Extract© George Perry: Forever Ealing.
Anthony Pelissier: Director
Wilfred Shingleton: Art Direction
Desmond Dickinson: Cinematography
Bernard Gribble: Editing
Eric Rogers: Music
Monja Danischewsky: Producer
Monja Danischewsky: Script
Alec Grahame: Script
Stanley Holloway: Sam Hollingsworth
Peggy Cummins: Kitty Norton
Jack Watling: Jim Norton
Barbara Murray: Patricia Pedelty
Gordon Jackson: Hector McPhee
Jean Cadell: Mrs McDonald
Kay Kendall: Lonely Hearts Singer
Charles Victor: Mr Elder
Humprey Lestocq: Arthur Simmonds
Raymond Huntley: Mr Patterson
Ernest Theseiger: Mr McDonald
Joan Sims: Fairy Queen
Ian Carmichael: Man Friday