The Big Money (1956) - movie review on The Movie Scene

The Big Money (1956)   3/53/53/53/53/5


James Hayter and Ian Carmichael in The Big Money (1956)

Big Trouble, Bigger Quiff

Willie Frith (Ian Carmichael - Private's Progress) comes from a family of petty crooks with his father, Mr. Frith (James Hayter - It's a Wonderful World), taking pride in what he does which causes Willie to always want to prove himself rather than living in his father's shadow. It isn't just his father he wants to impress as Willie is very fond of Gloria (Belinda Lee - Footsteps in the Fog), the barmaid at his local, but doesn't think he is rich enough to date someone as attractive as Gloria. When he steals a suitcase full of money he thinks he has done it that is until his sister Doreen (Jill Ireland) spots that every note has the same serial number. Now Willie has a case full of counterfeit money to deal with whilst the more than dodgy Reverend (Robert Helpmann), who he stole it from, is trying to track who ever it was who stole it so he doesn't snitch on him.

I have tried to think of an easy way to describe "The Big Money", a movie which Ian Carmichael is said to have regretted ever making, and the best thing I can come up with is that as a whole the movie is not anything special but the look, the characters and some of the gags keep on grabbing your attention despite the story failing. In fact this is visually one of the most attention grabbing British movies from the 1950s I have watched with stunning colouring which brings out the detail and the attractive nature of the cast.

Belinda Lee in The Big Money (1956)

So what is the problem with "The Big Money"? Well quite simply the storyline is not that entertaining and ends up a little tedious. It consists of Willie with a case of dodgy money, his accident prone attempts to court the stunning Gloria and some criminals trying to get their hands on the missing money as well as whoever it is who stole it as they don't know. It is not that entertaining and certainly doesn't make you wonder how Willie is going to get out of the mess he is in without ending up in trouble and losing the girl.

But as I said the look of "The Big Money" is stunning and certainly leads to Belinda Lee as Gloria ending up coming across as drop dead gorgeous through out. But the look of the movie also make Ian Carmichael even funnier than he usually is thanks to him sporting a huge quiff which let's be honest doesn't suit him one bit. But then you have the fun of James Hayter being the proud pick pocket who prides himself on what he does. In many ways it is the characters and gags, such as Willie's false bottom suitcase, which makes this sporadically fun rather than wholly entertaining.

What this all boils down to is that "The Big Money" is one of those movies which doesn't fully work as intended but has certain things about it which makes it well worth a watch.


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