When renowned prankster Henry Augustus Russell (Hugh Griffith) dies he leaves his fortune to be split between four relatives; Agnes (Fay Compton) who is mean to her maid, Simon (Guy Middleton) a bachelor with irresponsible ways, Herbert (George Cole - The Happiest Days of Your Life) who works at a bank and is bullied by his boss and then there is Captain James Deniston (Alastair Sim - Hue and Cry) a secret writer of trash novels who is hen-pecked by his girlfriend. But before each can get their hands on their share of the money they must complete certain tasks. Agnes must work for an entire month as a maid, Simon must marry the first eligible woman he talks to, Herbert must hold up the bank where he works and James must get himself arrested and serve 28 days in prison.
If you love movies there is a good chance that the plotline to "Laughter in Paradise" may sound familiar because it plays like a variation on the often filmed "Brewster's Millions". But of course this has the added element of 4 people who have to complete strange tasks in order to inherit their slice of the fortune which means 4 times the fun. And to be honest "Laughter in Paradise" is fun thanks to the main cast who are all great at delivering visual humour but it lacks something to make it a great British comedy.
That some thing is a strong enough story as after the set up it pretty much falls into a series of funny scenes. We get the comedy of the nervous Herbert practicing to hold up the bank, Captain James walking into a police station and asking how he can spend 28 days in prison and plenty more. Now having said that there is a reason for all these quirky tasks and as such the four Russell's learn a lesson about what is important as they end up humiliated by what they have to do but it still struggles to be more than funny scenes
The thing about "Laughter in Paradise" is that despite having its issues with storyline and to be honest some of the gags it is still fun because of the cast. When you have Alastair Sim, George Cole, Fay Compton and many more recognizable stars all bringing out the humour of their character's predicament it ends up a lot of fun, well let's be honest when have you ever seen Alastair Sim fail to entertain when he is in a comedy. Plus "Laughter in Paradise" also features a young Audrey Hepburn in one of her first supporting roles as a cigarette girl at a club.
What this all boils down to is that "Laughter in Paradise" is a typically entertaining British comedy from a bygone era but one which whilst having an amusing set up really only works because of the great group of British actors who are in it.