Thursday, 17 May 2018

Spotlight on George Formby's Get Cracking 5

Home Guard Games

The story within the film ‘Get Cracking’ is all rather like an extended episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ and one wonders how well Croft and Perry knew this film. George Formby plays a member (occasional Corporal) of the Home Guard in the village of Minor Wallop. The story begins, after the initial scene setting, when it is discovered that a gun has been left at the local railway station goods depot without a label. A porter telephones to see if it belongs to their platoon, or to the one at Major Wallop. George is immediately despatched on his motor bike to go and claim it before the Major Wallopers hear about it. But the Home Guard office is situated in the back room of the pub, and little do they know, but the barmaid is a fifth columnist. She fancies Ronald Shiner’s character, who is part of Major Wallop’s platoon. The barmaid telephones Shiner and delivers the information on the gun in the hope of a back row liaison at the flicks in return. Shiner’s character sets out for the gun too, and the usual trademark Formby chaos ensues as they collide, then fight to get there first. George loses the gun and to add insult to injury he is accused of giving the game away. He is stripped of his stripe and is in disgrace. So, what with the local Home Guard rivalry between platoons and the acute lack of proper weapons there is more than a touch of Dad’s Army here.

You can have a gun and no uniform, or you can have a uniform and no gun, but you can't have both.

 Of course, I’m not accusing Croft and Perry of plagiarism – the point is that they both reflect the Home Guard as it was, each corroborating the other’s evidence.  It is known that the lack of available uniform and weaponry beset the Local Defence volunteers from the beginning. But I think that it also shows what we all suspect about men of a certain age. Get them together in a unit that has to compete with another one, then they will try their best to outdo each other at all costs as if they were back in the playground!

Mention must also be made at this point of the welcome appearance of E V H Emmett’s voice as the film opens. The famous tones of the Gaumont News narrator (well known to Carry on fans as the voiceover in ‘Carry On Cleo’) is used to commentate on the initial formation of the Home Guard in Major and Minor Wallop, describing how one got weapons while the other got uniform. He really gets the film going with a smile and sets the scene brilliantly.

Twitter: @agathadascoyne
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