Ooh, You Are Awful Review
Neil Tennent of The Pet Shop Boys once said that if you have a very ordinary song, one shouldn't place the word ordinary in the title of it. He was speaking of Ordinary Day by Curiousity Killed The Cat at the time - he was making a brief return to the offices of Smash Hits to review that fortnight's singles - but, paraphrasing somewhat, he could also have been talking about Ooh, You Are Awful, a big-screen outing for Dick Emery and his limited cast of characters. Now, it's fair to say that whatever you remember of Dick Emery, it may not be very flattering. Dressed up as the unlikeliest, randiest woman this side of Les Dawson, as a randy vicar or a randy...well, you get the point, Emery ended what seems like every sketch with, "Ooh, you are awful...but I like you!", after which he would slap his co-star with a handbag, briefcase, bible or whatever else came to hand.
At least, that was my own memory of Emery and when he was mentioned in a look back by BBC2 at the variety show earlier this year, the words, "Ach, I can't stand Dick Emery!" were almost on my tongue before I found myself laughing at the sketches that followed. They may not have been so very different from what I've outlined above - whatever else he may have done, I can't remember Emery doing anything other than that randy schtick - but they were funny and come the release of this on DVD by Optimum, I was ready to wipe clean Emery's slate and approach Ooh, You Are Awful with an open mind.
The plot, which is a mix of the rather dreary and the quite unbelievable, sees Emery play conman Charlie Tully, who opens the film by persuading a couple of Italians to part with half a million pounds as their ticket to marrying into royalty. But before they can begin writing their wedding vows, Charlie and his partner Reggie (Ronald Fraser) have the money away and stashed in a safety deposit box. Unfortunately, when they catch wind of the plan, the Italians aren't best pleased and dear Reggie is very soon dead Reggie. Charlie, meanwhile, can't get to the loot because he doesn't know the combination but there are those who've gotten wind of what's happened and would like a share of the cash.
But then, with the help of an old photograph of Reggie, Charlie figures it out. Between this making off with the money and his exiting this world, Reggie recorded the combination of the safety deposit box by having it tattooed on the bums of four lovelies, each one having part of the code within a heart. Donning a series of clever disguises, Charlie goes undercover into a British Rail station, as a photographer on a wedding day, as a butler in a crumbling aristocratic pile and into a policewoman training camp to uncover not only the combination but also the shapely bums of four lovely young ladies. But with gangster Sid Sabbath (Derren Nesbitt) wanting him dead - Charlie taking pictures of his sister's arse in a photo booth may have something to do with it - and the Mafia keeping him alive until they get their money back, the search for the money not only leaves a trail of dead bodies behind him but four bare bums!
Somehow it was only a matter of time before a British comedy found itself concerned with bare bums. Be it an issue of censorship, prudery or of comic potential, the British comedy has never had a great deal of time for actual genitalia, favouring, in the manner of the tabloid press, boobs and bums. In Ooh, You Are Awful, there's much gazing at bums - boobs are actually conspicuous by their absence - but it's all done in the manner one would expect of Dick Emery, who would appear, though not literally so, to have one eye on the ladies whilst the other is winking to the audience. Unfortunately, much as that constitutes a fair bit of the film, there's a whole chunk of plotting around Reggie that's as entertaining as watched treacle drip off a spoon. And almost as lively! As short as it is, Ooh, You Are Awful is actually quite awful for the first half of its running time, only picking up once Reggie makes his way out of the film and Charlie sets about getting his hands on the cast. What follows are some good sight gags and some fairly amusing writing but, most of all, Emery in a set of familiar disguises doing exactly the sort of thing that made him famous in the first place. When it and Emery are on form, Ooh, You Are Awful isn't bad but one can really only say that for about three-quarters-of-an-hour of it. The rest of the time, it's there with any equally dreadful British sitcom, placed slightly ahead of Love Thy Neighbour but so thinly separated as to almost be touching. Rather than this, I'd recommend any of Dick Emery's shows on DVD, which allow him free rein without any of the unnecessary plotting. Somehow, Dick Emery as a blonde bombshell is a lot more believable than watching him play it straight.
Like Love Thy Neighbour, Ooh, You Are Awful has been presented in 1.33:1 and shares the same set of problems with the print, having much scratching, spotting and variable contrast and colour throughout. Again, though, I suspect that Optimum have simply picked up a fairly rotten print through a multi-film deal and are getting them out onto DVD to see some return on them. The actual transfer, looking only at getting the movie off film and onto disc, is fine but Optimum have clearly done next to nothing with it. Again, it's much the same story with the audio, which does what's required of it but is really not a great deal better. There's more incidental music than was on Love Thy Neighbour and the dialogue is perhaps clearer but that is about all that one can say of it. Finally, what with this being an Optimum release, there are no subtitles.
There are no extras on the release of this DVD.