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A Touch of the Sun
A Touch of the Sun (1956)
  • Director:
    Gordon Parry
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Alfred Shaughnessy,Alfred Shaughnessy
  • Cast:
    Frankie Howerd,Ruby Murray,Dennis Price
  • Time:
    1h 20min
  • Year:
Willie is a hall porter who is left a fortune but after living it up for a while he returns to his old hotel which is in financial difficulties.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Frankie Howerd Frankie Howerd - William Darling
Ruby Murray Ruby Murray - Ruby
Dennis Price Dennis Price - Digby Hatchard
Dorothy Bromiley Dorothy Bromiley - Rose Blake
Katherine Kath Katherine Kath - Lucienne
Gordon Harker Gordon Harker - Sid
Reginald Beckwith Reginald Beckwith - Herbert Hardcastle
Pierre Dudan Pierre Dudan - Louis
Colin Gordon Colin Gordon - Cecil Flick
Richard Wattis Richard Wattis - Purchase
Alfie Bass Alfie Bass - May
Miriam Karlin Miriam Karlin - Alice Cann
Willoughby Goddard Willoughby Goddard - Golightly
Aïché Nana Aïché Nana - Belly Dancer (as Aiché Nana)
George Margo George Margo - Howard Cann

A Touch of the Sun (1956)

Ruby Murray receives an "introducing" credit.

Opening credits: All characters and events in this film are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

Mitars Riders
Mitars Riders
A surprisingly low key (for him!) performance from Frankie Howerd as a hotel concierge. He longs for the quiet life on the French Riviera and when he inherits some money off he goes.

However, despite his best efforts, he can't get any rest and decides to go back to the hotel. He then has to save the hotel from closing by persuading three "ey up, reet grand" northern businessmen to invest in the hotel. Of course he succeeds and gets the girl.

A cheerful British comedy helped along with able support from, Denis Price, Gordon Harker, Richard Wattis, Alfie Bas and Colin Gordon. Just enough laughs to cheer you up on a wet weekend!
Frankie Howerd began appearing in feature films in 1954 (THE RUNAWAY BUS), but by 1956 he had this comedy star vehicle, in which he truly shines. Back then, he was far more restrained than he became later. There were not so many oohs nor so much suggestive sexual innuendo as appeared in his later persona. Nor did he 'take over', but instead he played a role in a definable story. This film is extremely amusing, and works very well. It is good to see the excellent Gordon Harker lending his support, though I wished his role had been larger. A young Irish popular singer from Belfast named Ruby Murray, aged 21, is given a role in the film. It is the only film in which she ever appeared. She gets to sing, of course. Her acting is sweetly amateurish, which in my opinion only adds to her elfin charm. Pardon my ignorance of Irish singers of the 1950s, but I plead that one cannot know everything, and hence I have to confess I had never previously heard of her. But it seems that she was 'one of the most successful Irish singers of all time'. Well done, then, she and John MacCormack (a friend of my wife's grandparents). Ireland is 'busting out all over' with talent and always has been, and whether green or orange, they are all very charming, apart from the ones who blow everybody up, that is. (As someone who is both part Irish and part Ulster, I consider myself a potential cross-border phenomenon and wish they would just all learn how to get along and stop causing trouble.) Alfred Shaughnessy, later famous for writing the hit TV series UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS (1971-1975), wrote the story and script for this film, and that helps explain why it is so good. There is plenty of wit, but the story is a satirical one. Frank Howerd plays a hall porter in a swank London hotel (swank for 1956, that is, though we would not call it that now) who inherits a lot of money from an elderly customer of the hotel who had taken a fancy to him. He quits his job and fulfils his dream of going off to the French Riviera to live the life of Riley (there's those Irish again), but finds it dull and empty so that he longs to go back to his old life. He uses what is left of his inherited fortune to buy the hotel where he once worked, but has none left for operations costs. For that, he is dependent upon a favourable investment decision by a group of three hard-nosed Yorkshire businessmen. The film has wonderful opportunities to make fun of the Yorkshiremen, with their clipped accents, bluntness, and naïve susceptibility to being impressed by titles. Frank gets his old chums who had been on the staff of the hotel before it closed to come and work for free while the Yorkshiremen visit, but to dress up in outrageous disguises (he himself masquerades successfully as a duchess!) to try to fool the potential investors into believing that the failed hotel is a centre of high society, patronised by the rich and titled. There are many opportunities for high comedy as the staff rush from room to room changing costumes and wigs, to maintain the fiction. This is all good fun, and will cheer up anybody suffering from a dreary, wet British afternoon.
Frankie Howerd takes the leading role in this standard British farce that was so common in the late fifties and doesn't do a bad job either. Usually more familiar in a supporting role,he takes centre stage here and all the action revolves around him.

The basic plot is the grass isn't always greener on the other side as Frankie finds out when his desired dream to retire to the French Rivera is a complete disaster. Returning to the UK he buys his old employment hotel and has to convince three businessmen it's worth investing in. Cue lots of rushing about farce proceedings as Frankie makes the hotel look busy with his small staff putting on numerous disguises.

Still quite amusing and watchable for it's short running time but it's the little things that kept me interested. Most of all Frankie's strange 'Eraserhead' hairstyle, Alfie Bass,the atypical Jewish performer,playing a Yorkshireman! And Ruby Murray's appalling attempt at acting, thank goodness she has a nice singing voice that's all I can say....
Despite somewhat low vote averages, this classic Frankie Howerd film is one of the better 1950s British farces. Howerd, playing a hotel concierge, inherits a sum of money, and decides to use it for a holiday in the south of France. All manner of hilarious debacles follow, leading Howerd to the conclusion that he was better off in the first place.

Among some of the better character parts are performed by Ruby Murray, one of Ireland's greatest pop singers of the 1950s, Dennis Price (The Pure Hell of St Trinians), Alfie Bass (Are You Being Served?), and John Vere (Hancock's Half Hour). Alfred Shaughnessy's script is sharp and witty, and most of the humor holds to the present.
A TOUCH OF THE SUN is a low budget British comedy film with the antics centred around an upper class hotel at which Frankie Howerd works as a porter. This one of the British comedy great's earliest leading roles and he certainly entertains the viewer in his own inimitable style, always ready with a gag or a joke based around fish-out-of-water situations or misunderstandings. Howerd's lowly character is put upon by those around him until he comes into a fortune and decides to do something about it.

I found the comedy in this film to be somewhat limited and dated although the trappings of the era remain interesting. Howerd's early interactions with the idiosyncratic guests at the hotel are good fun and Dennis Price is excellent in his straight man role. However, the film's best part is an extended holiday segment in which Howerd discovers that life in the sun, sea, and sand of the French Riviera isn't all it's cracked up to be. This part is very true to life and very funny with it. The latter half of the production emphasises plotting over comedy but is still watchable. Irish singer Ruby Murray plays in support and gets to supply a couple of songs.