Up the Front (1972)
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Up the Front
Up the Front is a 1972 British comedy film directed by Bob Kellett and starring Frankie Howerd, Bill Fraser, and Hermione Baddeley. It is the third film spin-off from the television series Up Pompeii! (the previous films being Up the Chastity Belt set in the Middle Ages which followed on from the Up Pompeii film). The plot concerns Lurk (a descendant of the slave Lurcio in Up Pompeii), a coward who is hypnotised into bravery.
Set during World War I, Lurk, a lowly servant in the household of Lord and Lady Twithampton (William Mervyn and Linda Gray), is hypnotised by The Great Vincento (Stanley Holloway) and travels to the Western Front to 'save England'. Lurk is inspired to bravery, and upon receiving the German master plan for the entire war, which has through an unlikely series of events been tattooed onto his posterior, is pursued across France by German intelligence. After breaking into the British military headquarters to deliver the plans into the hands of General Burke (Robert Coote), he is confronted by the sensuous German spy Mata Hari (Zsa Zsa Gabor). After foiling Mata Hari's scheme to relieve him of the plan, a hilarious scene develops in which he is pursued by the nefarious Von Gutz (Lance Percival) and his henchmen Donner and Blitzen (Gertan Klauber and Stanley Lebor). Accompanied by the Can-Can, performed by the Famous Buttercup Girls, Lurk is pursued around the Allied headquarters. Finally, disguised as a tree, he is able to present the plans to General Burke, to the famous line:
General Burke: "Lurk, bend down." Lurk: "I thought you'd never ask!"
Having successfully delivered the plans into the hands of British intelligence, Lurk receives a medal of honour and a promotion. He is therefore able to win the love of his beloved Fanny (Madeline Smith) and defeat the machinations of the wicked Sgt. Major Groping (Bill Fraser).
- Frankie Howerd as Lurk
- Bill Fraser as Groping
- Zsa Zsa Gabor as Mata Hari
- Stanley Holloway as The Great Vincento
- Hermione Baddeley as Monique
- Robert Coote as General Burke
- Lance Percival as Von Gutz
- Dora Bryan as Cora Crumpington
- William Mervyn as Lord Twithampton
- Linda Gray as Lady Twithampton
- Jonathan Cecil as Captain Nigel Phipps Fortescue
- Madeline Smith as Fanny
- Percy Herbert as Corporal Lovechild
- Peter Bull as General Von Kobler
- Vernon Dobtcheff as Muller
- Gertan Klauber as Donner
- Stanley Lebor as Blitzen
- Michael Brennan as M.P.
- Harvey Hall as M.P.
- David Battley as Midgeley the Cook
- Derek Griffiths as El Puncturo
- Mike Grady as Newsboy
- Bob Hoskins as Recruiting Sergeant
- Robert Gillespie as French Officer
- Patricia Quinn as Magda (Mata Hari's Maid)
- Toni Palmer as 1st Buttercup Girl
- Leena Skoog as Nurse
Bob Hoskins' brief appearance in the film, in the role of a recruiting sergeant, represents the actor's mainstream debut.
The New York Times wrote, "the laughs come fast and furious when Howerd finds himself the recipient of the enemy's war plans--tattooed on his tush." TV Guide called the film "Inane nonsense."