Saturday, June 3, 2023

Where There's a Will (1955)

If you look up Tod Slaughter on this blog, you'll see that I got two of his movies in one of the box sets of British B movies that I picked up some years back. I've bought a couple more sets from the same outfit: one or two sets of British noirs from the 1950s, and a second set of British B movies. Off of that second set of British B's, I watched another completely new to me movie: Where There's a Will.

The movie starts off amusingly enough, with a farmer in Devonshire, in the southwest of England, walking in his field and getting blown to smithereens when he accidentally steps on an unexploded land bomb from World War II. The guy died, which is bad enough, but worse is that he didn't have any direct descendants. This is a much bigger problem for his devoted housekeeper, Annie Yeo, who figured she was going to inherit the place, except that there's no will that can be found. So the search is on for any other relatives, who are ahead of poor Annie in the line to inherit.

It turns out that the old guy had a sibling who had kids, who are now all grown up and will be inheriting the farm. There's two nieces, Amy who's married Fred and Maud who is a widow with an adult daughter June. There's also nephew Alfie. All of them live in London and travel down to Devon to see the old farm and look to sell it since, even splitting the property three ways, it should bring them enough to give them a somewhat more comfortable standard of living than what they all currently have.

Unfortunately, Alfie decides that he likes the fresh air and being out of London, and decides that perhaps he'd like to take up farming. There's the question of how he's going to get the money to get his sisters' other two shares of the farm, as well as the question of whether he knows enough about farming to make the place a going concern. Meanwhile, there are neighboring farmers, the Stokes father and son, who could use the land. Young Ralph Stokes takes a liking to young June and thinks she shouldn't be tied down to the drudgery of a London typing pool girl doting on her mother.

And then there's the mortgage on the farm, and the government man who thinks the government knows better how to run farming and would be willing to put in its own manager. This is all light comedy, however, so eventually everything works out well for the right people. If they don't live happily ever after, at least they get the life of farm labor they choose for themselves.

You'll not that I didn't put the names of any of the stars in the cast. That's because as I was watching the opening credits, all of these were a bunch of names I had never heard of before, and some of them don't even have head shots on IMDb. But then, near the bottom of the credits, there was one name that looked familiar, as Ralph Stokes was played by a man named Edward Woodward. Sure enough, it's that Edward Woodward, known for movies like The Wicker Man and Breaker Morant, and, in the US< the TV series The Equalizer.

Where There's a Will is a mildly pleasant B comedy, and the sort of thing that would have been perfect for the old days when you had a full evening's entertainment at the movies including shorts, a newsreel, a B movie, and the feature. At the same time, it's not surprising that it's fallen into obscurity and shows up on the sort of cheap box set I got. Perhaps in the new world of free, ad-supported streaming, somebody will get the rights to a bunch of movies like this and put them out there that way, the same way I saw Death Goes to School several weeks back.

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