Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom, 1963. Peter Rogers Productions. Screenplay by Talbot Rothwell, based on an original story by Sidney Green, Richard Hills. Cinematography by Alan Hume. Produced by Peter Rogers. Music by Eric Rogers. Production Design by Jack Stephens. Costume Design by Joan Ellacott. Film Editing by Archie Ludski.
One of the strongest gems in the franchise, this very funny comedy stars Sidney James as the head of Speedee Taxis, a fleet of cabs in Windsor whose is so obsessed with his operation that his wife (Hattie Jacques) feels despondent in her neglect. When he misses their anniversary because a woman gives birth in his cab (whose husband is played by series regular Jim Dale), Jacques decides she’s had enough. She starts her own cab service with gorgeous girls as drivers, immediately driving business away from her husband thanks to her army of sharply dressed and even more sharply stacked employees who are a much more attractive proposition for customers. James, who doesn’t know that his wife is behind all of this, attempts to sabotage the competition but the ladies are always ready for him, then when Jacques is taken hostage by robbers, the drivers have to band together and help a fellow cabby in trouble. The patriarchal notion of not letting women work is a sore point that the film pokes its characters in the ribs with, inspired by the delightful Esma Cannon trying to take over her husband’s cab after he is too ill to work, and while the emphasis on dolly birds distracting unsuspecting men with their va-va-voom figures isn’t going to win any awards for hard-fitting feminism, it sure provides for some good clean cheeky fun. Charles Hawtrey provides his familiar slapstick laughs as the new driver who can barely get a car out of the lot without creating a disaster in a film that, typical for the British, is a comedy that manages to be intelligent without needing to be cynical, and balances physical jokes with verbal humour with even-handed ease.