Friday, September 15, 2017

Raising a Riot! ( 1955 )

What does a man do when his wife asks him to mind their three youngsters when she must leave the country for a few weeks to care for her aging mother? 

If you think he would raise a riot, you're quite mistaken, for the man in this situation is played by Kenneth More....and any character that More portrays would never balk at caring for children. In fact, this chap - Tony, a naval officer - begs for the opportunity to spend some quality time with his children: Anne, Peter, and Fusty. He's been away at sea for so long he fears they may come to think of him as a stranger. And so, in one frantic afternoon, he packs the brood into his convertible and whisks them off to Seaview, a windmill house in the country where his father "Grampy" lives. 

The children adore the place. Father thinks it needs a heap of work. Over the next few weeks, he attempts to put some order in the place while the children enjoy a good romp in the countryside.
Raising a Riot was filmed in Technicolor in 1955 and received moderate box-office success upon its release. The film is clearly based on a book for it lacks a driving plot and instead is built up of a series of amusing incidents centering on household disasters at the old windmill. It delivers gentle humor at a leisurely pace. British comedies like this were quite common in the 1950s-1960s but, unfortunately, they are no longer being made. Studio execs probably don't want to waste time and money on a picture that has no chance of being the "comedy hit of the year". Such a shame, for they are such entertaining films. 

The youngsters ( played by Mandy Miller, Gary Billings, and Fusty Bentine ) are all well-suited to their roles, as is Grampy ( Ronald Squire ), and Jan Miller is especially adorable as a young American neighbor with a crush on the handsome officer. Parts like Tony were tailor-made for Kenneth More, who had such a winning personality. It's no wonder he attracts young women in addition to winning the hearts of his own children! 
Alfred Toombs, who penned the titular book in 1949, had a number of children of his own, and this account was autobiographical. Toombs had been away in the Navy for three years and, upon his return home, had to care for his kiddies when his wife left the country. Housework, cooking, and child-rearing were all new experiences for him and he wrote about them in such a humorous fashion that the resulting book sold quite a number of copies. In the film, Tony is frequently seen typing about his day-to-day mishaps with the little ones, but oddly enough the audience is never told what becomes of Tony's writings. Instead, at the end of the film, he finds himself called back into service again and blesses his wife with the words: "I wouldn't be a woman if the entire United Nations got down on their knees and begged me! Do you know what a woman has to be? She has to be a cross between a saint and a drayhorse, a diplomat and an automatic washing machine, and a psychologist and a bulldozer!" 


  1. I've never heard of this one, and sounds absolutely charming.

    I never had a childhood romp in the country. Only to be experienced through a book or movie like this. I'm halfway there with the Kenneth More crush!

    1. I think you would really enjoy it, CW. It's a happy film. Since you never had your childhood romp in the country, you'll have to take a middle-age romp this year! There's nothing quite like it.

  2. I quite enjoy British comedies of this period with their "gentle humor at a leisurely pace" and I'm a Kenneth More fan. I will definitely be on the lookout for this one!

    1. It certainly is entertaining, even though it isn't a stand-out comedy....and I just enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the film. If you can't find the movie anywhere, holler out and I'll see if I can share my copy with you online.

  3. This is a charming article. It sounds like a delightful film. I would like to see it some time.

    By the way, "The Great Breening Blogathon" begins tomorrow. Do you have any idea what topic you will choose? I would be happy to give you suggestions. Of course, you do not have to decide just yet. You have through Sunday to submit your article to me. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

  4. I knew one of the writers on this film, James Matthews, who himself was a wonderfully charming and affable man. He led an eventful life from being Head Boy at Marlborough through adventures in cinema (including being sent by the Boulting Brothers to sack Margaret Lockwood) before ending up in publishing - he published the infamous Oz magazine before the trial.

    I watched the film for the first time yesterday having bought the DVD for my Mum who was Jimmy's partner in the final years of his life. I did not know hee had written screenplays until after his death. Even when I was a Media student in Bournemouth discussing my idea for a film script with him he offered advice without backing it up with a boast (or even mention) about his experience.

    A great lover of wine, Jimmy died in 1990. I still have one of his bottles left to drink.