Too Many Crooks is a 1959 British comedy film directed by Mario Zampi. The plot concerns a bunch of inept crooks who kidnap the wife of a shady businessman, only for him to decide he doesn’t want her back. It stars George Cole, Sidney James and Bernard Bresslaw as members of the gang, alongside Brenda De Banzie as the victim and Terry-Thomas as her husband.
I have a guest blog over at the splendid Carry On Blogging!
‘It’s been said that the British like eccentrics and I think it’s certainly true that we have a predisposition towards the odd, the awkward – especially where our entertainers are concerned. Britain has had its share of slick matinée idols of course, but there was always something a bit rough around the edges about the likes of Oliver Reed, Richard Burton and Sean Connery.’
Read the rest here, if you’re that way inclined, and check out the rest of the blog.
Over at Pulp Pusher, I talk to the Tartan Noir kingpin about Last Year’s Man and gangster films.
‘We haven’t had a Q&A at Pulp Pusher for quite some time. So, I thought we should so something about that.
I recently had a Chin Wag at Richard Godwin’s Slaughterhouse.
‘Paul Brazill is the master of Brit grit and hardboiled. His stories and novels ring like a chime out of a gangster flick, one with heavy overtones of London. He is adept at using contemporary culture to highlight and augment the inherent drama in his fictions, which are peopled with low lifes and hustlers. Paul met me at The Slaughterhouse, where we talked about Brit Grit and his new work.
What are you writing right now?
‘The Days of Danny Spencer’. It’s the story of a disgraced ex-copper trying to put his life back together. It’s a London-set urban western, after a fashion
If you were to write a Carry On what would it be titled, and who among present actors would you cast in the lead roles?
It would be Carry On Expendables …
Sly Stallone could do the Sid James parts, Jean-Claude Van Damme would be a great Kenneth Williams, soppy old Ryan Gosling would be Jim Dale and Arnie could be the new Babs Windsor, for obvious reasons.
Is Brit Grit on the rise and does it lack the sentimental addiction to resolution that classifies much crime writing, particularly that churned out by the industry?
Brit Grit is bedraggled and unkempt and there’s a lot of it about! Martin Stanley, Robert Cowan, Tom Liens, Aidan Thorn and Paul Heatley, for example, all write books that are away from the mainstream and aren’t interested in tidying things up.
What else is on the cards for you this year
Fahrenheit 13 will be rebooting my seaside noir Kill Me Quick! And I have another seaside noir coming out later this year from All Due Respect/ Down and Out Books. It’s called Last Year’s Man. It’s like Takeshi Kitano mixed with Alan Bennett.
Thank you Paul for a classic interview.’
Over at Goodreads, ace Brit Grit writer Martin Stanley says:
‘Fast moving, funny, crime caper with Brazill’s usual abundance of wordplay, in-jokes, and crooks looking to get one-over on each other. It is a mix of the Quentin Tarantino multi-character McGuffin (in this case, of a Nazi ring) and a Carry-On film. It never takes itself seriously and is all the more entertaining for it. Highly recommended.’
“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!” – Charlie Chaplin
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’” – Samuel Becket.
As Chaplin showed, there has always been a dark aspect to British comedy and, indeed, there is also usally a sharp, shot of humour in British dark fiction. Tragicomedy that errs on the side of the tragic, perhaps.
A perfect home for life’s perpetual failures, then.
Think of Alexander Mackendrick’s classic 1955 film The Ladykillers where a group of gangsters hole-up in a cute little old ladies house and take turns trying to kill her. They fail, of course.
Or try the eponymous character created by comedian Tony Hancock in the 1950s who, on radio, on television and in film, tried his hand at so many different activities and failed. One episode –The Bedsitter – teeters dangerously on the precipice of bleak existentialism. The Bedsitter is a one-room set, one-man-show, where Hancock endlessly flips through a Bertrand Russell tome trying to find meaning in life, but fails, of course. As Hancock said: ‘Stone me, what a life!’
And more: Sixties sit-com The Worker had the perpetually unemployed Charlie Drake regularly annoying Mr Pugh at the employment centre, trying lots of jobs and failing at all of them. One of the United Kingdom’s longest running television series, Only Fools and Horses, featured wheeling and dealing market stall traders whose scams always failed but who genuinely believed that ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.’
Indeed, if the shiny happy American comedy series Friends had been made in the UK it would probably have ended up more like Sartre’s No Exit since hell truly is THOSE people.
So, if crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order, then perhaps British comedy is pure noir.
Or maybe, it’s just the weather.
Over at his blog, ace crime writer JASON BEECH SAYS:
‘Guns of Brixton is a mutt, bred from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Pulp Fiction, The Sweeney, and the Carry On films. All of this could have been a mushy stew, but Brazill has such a way with words and structure that this is all its own thing. It’s funny, as his books always are, extremely silly, but utterly engaging.’
Over at his regular column for The Highland Times, Tony Black talks about recent plans to reboot the Carry On film series.
And I stick my neb in too! Here’s a clip:
Paul D. Brazill grew up in Hartlepool and is a self-confessed Carry On fan. He’s also the author of a number of books, including his most recent, The Last Laugh, and currently in production is Carry On Croaking. Brazill has even based a couple of his fictional characters on Carry On actors Sid James and Bernard Breslaw.
If there’s anyone you’d expect to be looking forward to a new Carry On film, it’s Brazill, but he’s not; far from it.
“I think it was very much a product of its time,” he said.
“It was the end of the era of seaside postcards. A celebration of absurdity and the grotesque. Things are cleaner these days and people are more delicate.
“It’s best to keep it in its world of pent up sexual frustration and class war.
“I think one of the reasons that it worked was because the actors were just that—actors. Not comedians.”
Read the rest here.