Ask a Policeman (August 29, 1939)
Released August 29, 1939: Will Hay stumbles his way through another adventure as a policeman who stages a crime so that he can take credit for solving it, but soon becomes embroiled in a real crime that only he and his men can thwart.
Directed by Marcel Varnel
Written by Marriott Edgar, Val Guest and J.O.C. Orton from a story by Sidney Gilliat.
The Actors: Will Hay (Sergeant Dudfoot), Graham Moffatt (Albert), Moore Marriott (Harbottle), Glennis Lorimer (Emily), Peter Gawthorne (Chief Constable), Charles Oliver (the Squire), Herbert Lomas (Coastguard), Patrick Aherne (motorist), Cyril Chamberlain (radio announcer), Noel Dainton (the Revenue Officer), Desmond Llewelyn (the headless coachman), Dave O'Toole (witness), Brian Worth (broadcasting engineer).
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British comedy from the 1930's is much more cerebral than physical, and 'Ask A Policeman' is a classic example. Americans had the three stooges, and Britain had Will Hay. And Will Hay is the master of British comedy for this period.
Sergeant Dudfoot and his two town policemen are on a BBC radio broadcast because they are the policemen in a town with no crime. But since there has apparently been no crime in the town of Turnbotham Round (the town that moons the world?), they are no longer needed, and they will be out of a job. Because of this they decide that they need to make some arrests quickly to justify their jobs. Trying to give out speeding tickets to motorists passing through town doesn't work, especially after one of the 'speeders' turns out to be the Chief Constable, the head of all constables, including them.
Next they decide to stage a phoney rum-smuggling incident, and it seems that they may have a real rum-smuggler in town. But then they encounter a flaming hearse driven by a headless driver. They continue to stumble around a real smuggling ring that is taking advantage of their incompetance. Pay attention to the dialogue, most of it is dual meaning and/or ironic comedy, as these three bumbling policemen solve the biggest crime in Turnbotham Round.