Walter Dodd (Ronald Fraser - The Long and the Short and the Tall) and his gang manage to rob a train and get away with a set of bank plates. It moves the gang to the top of Superintendent Mungo's (Alister Williamson) to catch list leading Walter to take the gang away from London to a remote Cornish island where they are to hide out in a monastery as monks, even Bikini (Barbara Windsor - Alice in Wonderland) who is to hide her obvious feminine charms by staying in the kitchen. But after a difficult start to the secluded life style the gang warm to their new way of life and consider giving up the life of crime, except the local police become suspicious of these new monks.
Bernard Cribbins, Melvyn Hayes, Ronald Fraser and Barbara Windsor are all actors who when I see their names appear in a comedy I know what to expect. They each had a very particular character type from Windsor being the bubbly blonde to Cribbins being the slightly nervous every man. And it is those typical character traits which makes "Crooks in Cloisters" entertaining, it is watching Melvin Hayes being comically pushed about which makes you smile rather than the jokes. In fact the scripted humour in "Crooks in Cloisters" is in fact weak with jokes about falling over in a pig sty not that funny.
What does that mean? Well it means that "Crooks in Cloisters" is one of those British comedies which attracts you because of the cast and entertains because of them. But in truth that is it and whether that is enough for you depends on how much you love vintage British comedies as you will have a sense of familiarity as you watch these actors playing to type. Personally whilst it was enough for around half an hour after that, basically after a scene where Wilfrid Brambell shows up as a crafty boat captain with a group of tourists it became a struggle because it lacked anything more than the humour of these actors playing stereotypical characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Crooks in Cloisters" is entertaining for those who enjoy vintage British comedies as it has plenty of familiar faces. But it is a comedy which relies on the actors and the familiar character types which they played and beyond that it has little else to offer.