Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Spotlight on George Formby's Get Cracking 6

Tank Top

After George’s disgrace over failing to secure the spare gun for Minor Wallop Home Guard, he must redeem himself. This is what George Formby films are all about, after all. And this redemption stays on the theme of weaponry by George constructing himself a tank. That’s right lads and lasses, a tank.  In civilian life, George is a mechanic, running his own garage that currently boasts no petrol and no spares. So, he is able to spend his days converting his work truck with corrugated iron pinched from a chicken coop. Back in the platoon’s good books, George and his tank (christened Mary Mk 1) are commissioned to represent Minor Wallop in manoeuvres against Major Wallop. Being on the receiving end of Ronald Shiner’s dirty tricks, George gets properly shot at by the real army while he is in the process of invading the neighbouring village.  But of course, George rolls into Major Wallop triumphant and gets a promotion to boot.  Finally, the two platoons are told that they are to merge – which they agree to do quite happily – and they begin making plans to trounce another neighbouring settlement’s platoon. After all at the bottom of it, they are all one against Jerry.

Formby sang about Frank on his Tank being a Swank - then built his own!
Along the way, there is a reminder of a more sinister aspect of the Home Guard’s manoeuvres – that is, what they have been formed to do. George has difficulty in getting his tank going because he is missing a rotor arm for the truck’s engine.  We learn during the process that rotor arms had been removed from the engines of vehicles in case of invasion – an early immobiliser. The invasion that was so anticipated in the early 1940s never took place, so we don’t fully know what tactics the Home Guard would have used to hold enemy forces back…but this little part of the storyline gives us one clue and it is momentarily sobering – invasion really could have happened, and how many of these parochial soldiers that we now laugh at every week in ‘Dad’s Army’ and in this film would have given up their lives?

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