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Let's Go Crazy (1951)

Courtesy of Adelphi Films

Main image of Let's Go Crazy (1951)
35mm, black and white, 33 mins
Directed byAlan Cullimore
Adelphi Films presentAdelphi Films
Screenplay byPeter Sellers
 Spike Milligan

Cast: Peter Sellers (Groucho Marx / Giuseppe / Cedric / Crystal Jollibottom / Izzy Gozunk); Spike Milligan (Eccles); Wallas Eaton (Mr Jollibottom); Tommy Manley, Florence Austin, Keith Warwick, Jean Cavall, Pat Kaye, Betty Ankers, Maxin and Johnson, Freddie Mirfield and his Garbage Men (variety acts)

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Various musicians, singers, dancers and variety acts perform at a nightclub.

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Opportunistically produced to use up paid-for studio time booked for the proto-Goon comedy Penny Points to Paradise (d. Tony Young, 1951), Let's Go Crazy was shot in Brighton over the course of one week. A short musical featurette set in a nightclub, it combined variety acts with hastily prepared linking comedy sketches written on the spot by Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, both on the cusp of radio comedy fame with the Goon Show. Rough and ready, but not without a certain low-budget, anarchic charm, Let's Go Crazy is a more characteristic vehicle for Milligan and Sellers' absurdist talents than the more conventional Penny Points to Paradise.

Sellers was still best known for his radio work, but here he proved his ability to convey character visually, defying his bargain basement surroundings to breathe life into a range of surprisingly effective and distinct characters. These include exasperated Italian head waiter Giuseppe, frustrated Crystal Jollibottom (a popular character created for radio's Ray's a Laugh) and the unbearable Cedric, apparently a hit with the ladies but with a hair-flicking twitch that suggests a nervousness within. Sellers' convincing Groucho Marx provides a suitably abrupt end to the film when, in the final seconds, he blows up the club with a bomb. Milligan, puzzlingly uncredited, also adopts various roles and is best as a wild-haired waiter, the powerful comic chemistry between Sellers and Milligan apparent as they briefly slip into Goonish mode.

The variety acts featured are of uneven quality. One suspects that the primary selection criteria were that they should be cheaply available, nearby and available for booking at short notice. The strange diversity of the acts, though, provides an interesting snapshot of club entertainment at the time. Notable among the merry throng are Freddie Mirfield and His Garbage Men, a novelty jazz band strongly reminiscent of the more celebrated Spike Jones and His City Slickers.

Barely registering on the critical radar upon release, the film was at least noticed by Kine Weekly, though its reviewer was not impressed: "the performers are versatile and willing, but presentation lacks imagination and showmanship." However, some years later, when Sellers' star was in the ascendant, the Groucho scenes from the film were cut into Penny Points to boost the Sellers content of the short 1960 reissue version of Penny Points to Paradise.

Vic Pratt

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Video Clips
1. Boiled beef and carrots (1:16)
2. Cedric (1:37)
3. The Jollibottoms and Groucho (1:20)
Production stills
Penny Points to Paradise (1951)
Milligan, Spike (1918-2002)
Sellers, Peter (1925-1980)
Adelphi Films