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Old Bones of the River
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10 from N/A votes
Release: 01 Dec 1938 /

Old Bones of the River

Genre: Comedy
Director: Marcel Varnel,
Synopsis: In this British comedy, a professor travels up river in Africa to open schools. But his new pupils are not receptive and when the commander of the local base succumbs to malaria, he takes ...

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Critic Reviews

I've got this in my records as being first broadcast on UK TV on 8th April 1985, and yet I don't think it was a lost film or that pc prejudices had held it up until then. I was slightly surprised at the content of the film and that the BBC showed it even then, and yet it still seems to appear regularly. The problems are that 1/ it isn't the 1930's anymore, with the British Empire still steaming ahead and 2/ imho the comic genius of Will Hay and the incomparable trio he made with Moore Marriott and Graham Moffat would have been better served by sticking them in an ordinary job complete with ridiculous situations back in Blighty. Why not have had them simply as canal boat operators and see where the plot took them instead of borrowing from Edgar Wallace?

The scene is set with the opening caption In Darkest Africa – Teaching the black man to play the white man, with the Western Brothers exhorting us all to Play The Game. Seedy quasi-missionary schoolmaster Hay arrives at a British outpost to help civilise the natives, unbeknownst to him bringing with him guns and booze (the white man's burden) that a returning educated native M'Bapi is smuggling in with which to foment trouble. His brother, chief Bosambo the Boot-Licker has a rather disparaging opinion of him! Hay & Co. get lumbered into collecting the native taxes, which lead to many hilarious scenes and classic quips (a lot centring on Hay's views of Harbottle's cleanliness), and eventually friction and war. Favourite bits: the sight of Jerry and Albert snuggled up and snoozing in the top bunk as a strong smell of goats permeates the cabin to wake up Hay below; the suspicions raised as to whether Hay had fathered a black baby; the expert repartee that makes this ultimately so worthwhile, unfortunately amidst many gags that would be considered either racist or racially patronising in todays perfect world.

Not quite a classic as were so many of Hay's films, but for fans still sparkling throughout. If you're not a fan or are too serious you may have a problem with this one!

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