Crooks Anonymous (1962)
Phillips' Darling Dandy
Small time crook Dandy Forsdyke (Leslie Phillips) had tried to go straight for his girlfriend, exotic dancer Babette (Julie Christie), but he just can't resist temptation and when she catches him with a stolen wallet calls time on their relationship. That is until she comes across Crooks Anonymous an organization run by Laurence Montague (Wilfrid Hyde-White) who helps criminals of all types to reform. Under the watchful eye of brother R.S. Widdowes (Stanley Baxter) Dandy goes through the program and cleans up his act, eventually getting a job in a department store. But when one weekend he gets locked inside the store with all the takings he calls on the help of the criminals he met at the group to help him get out. The question is have they all got the will power to resist temptation?
"Crooks Anonymous" is one of those British comedies from the 1960s which is all but forgotten about but is well worth a watch if you can find it. It has that easy going sense of fun which comes from the various actors such as Leslie Phillips and Stanley Baxter who make some simple gags a lot of fun.
Now "Crooks Anonymous" is really a three laughs, three parts movie with the first of both coming from the set up of Dandy being a petty crook who can't resist temptation. It plays right into Leslie Phillips wheel house playing the charmer who whilst smoothly stealing things is just as smooth when it comes to his girlfriend Babette.
The second of these comes thanks to Stanley Baxter who puts on various guises through out the movie as R.S. Widdowes who becomes Dandy's guardian angel. From the Victorian looking reverend in the park to the almost lurch style character he plays at the group Baxter makes every single one of them lots of fun and does a remarkable job when he dresses as a woman as well. And it is Baxter who makes the quirky reform methods at Crooks Anonymous lots of fun especially the look of glee on his face with the room full of safes which Dandy gets put in.
But all of this builds to the third part and laugh when Dandy ends up locked in the department store and calls his Crooks Anonymous colleagues to help him escape only for all of them to face temptation.
The thing about "Crooks Anonymous" is that whilst the writing is solid and the visual gags good it is the cast who make the movie. The combination of Leslie Phillips, Stanley Baxter, Julie Christie and James Robertson Justice bring so much to this movie that if you have enjoyed any of these actors in other movies you will probably enjoy this.
What this all boils down to is that "Crooks Anonymous" whilst not a great British comedy is a lot of fun for those who enjoy the comedies of Leslie Phillips and Stanley Baxter.
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