All at Sea (1957)

“The captain preferred the merry maids on land to the mermaids at sea!” A whimsical, inventive British comedy produced by Ealing Studios, All at Sea (AKA Barnacle Bill) features Alec Guinness as Royal Navy Officer “William Horatio Ambrose,” who comes from a long line of seafarers but unfortunately suffers from a chronic case of seasickness. So he decides to purchase a rundown amusement pier and turn it into the Arabella, a landlocked “cruise ship,” much to the chagrin of the corrupt town council, which desperately attempts to thwart his every move. I enjoyed the scene where Ambrose orders the aquarium cleared out to make room for a bar and the local fishermen freak out after they start catching exotic fish from the pier. Also, the ghosts of Ambrose’s ancestors show up to goad him into action during an “attack” on the pier. The great cast includes Irene Browne as “Mrs. Barrington,” Maurice Denham as “Mayor Crowley,” Victor Maddern as “Figg.” Guinness only appeared in the film as a favor to director Charles Frend and later referred to it as “wretched.” I disagree and highly recommend it! Look for a young Donald Pleasence in a bit role as a cashier during the scene where Ambrose brings a keg of rum into the bank and asks for glasses.

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