It’s time for the annual London to Brighton antique car rally, and Alan McKim and Ambrose Claverhouse are not going to let their friendship stop them from trying to humiliate each other. Along the way, some old jealousies are kindled to the point where the two men decide to have a “friendly” wager on who will be the first back to London. Once the competitive juices get all fired up, however, it quickly becomes a nasty, hotly-contested affair. Ambrose’s companion must suffer through her “maiden voyage” on the rally, while Mrs. McKim, on the other hand, is a long-time sufferer of her husband’s obsession.
A Delightful Turtle Race
What surprises me is the amount of adult humor in this British film that would never have been allowed in American features of the time. Consider the unmarrieds, Ambrose and Rosalind, going away for weekends, or Wendy’s rather pressing engagement with a nature call, or the not-so-veiled allusions to sexual activity. None of these were allowed in Production Code America as policed by the Legion of Decency who could turn out boycotts on a dime, while Hollywood’s studios quaked in fear. Congrats to the Brits for treating adults like adults, even if it was 60-years ago.
It is, of course, a delightful movie, with just enough grit to keep things from getting sappy. I loved seeing those picturesque country lanes I hope are still there. Happily, filming in color turned out to be a real plus. However, it occurred to me about halfway through that neither of the two guys, Ambrose or Alan, was particularly likable, rather unusual I would think for a commercial film. Alan, of course, does win wife Wendy’s and our respect with his noble gesture toward the old man. But otherwise, the two guys appear defined by their rather small-minded obsession with outracing the other.
Nonetheless, the race is a lot of fun, as the two girls look on in bewilderment at the boys’ madcap antics. Likely, the real stars, however, are the two wonderful vintage crates that belch fumes and leak fluid, but somehow sputter along. At the same time, that solo harmonica is perfect eccentric accompaniment. Hard to believe the filmmakers could take such a slender premise, small cast, and do it so well. But they do, so don’t miss it.