A trio of none-too-bright crooks (Dave King, Norman Rossington, and spiv Daniel Massey) buy a used fire engine as a means of making a clean getaway in their criminal exploits. A pretty smart idea except that they end up spending more time putting out real fires than doing ‘jobs’. They hire a disgraced former fire chief (Dennis Price) and a fire-loving scientist (Robert Morley) to help them stage a fire in a swanky boutique next door to the bank. Dame Maggie Smith is the girl Massey charms, who works at the boutique. Long-serving character actor Finlay Currie turns up fleetingly as a condemning judge.
Amusing 1962 Michael Truman (Not surprisingly a former editor for Ealing Studios) British comedy-caper gets a lot of mileage out of a top cast, aside from dud lead King, who just doesn’t cut it in my opinion. Robert Morley (as a firebug scientist), Miles Malleson (as a fire truck salesman), and Daniel Massey (as the ‘pants man’ of the group) are especially funny, and for once the caper side of the equation holds up quite entertainingly.
It’s a small, inconsequential film, but quite a bit of fun. It holds up better than a lot of other British comedies of the period, especially those of the “Carry On” nature. The screenplay is by Patrick Campbell (“Law and Disorder”, “Lucky Jim”) and Vivienne Knight (“Law and Disorder”).