Tommy The Toreador

Dir: John Paddy Carstairs, 1959

7/10

The mid-fifties and through the sixtiea, was the era of the British “pop music” film. Much loved singers of the time, routinely appeared in movies, catered towards the personality of the artiste.

Some are more famous than others. Whereas The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and Help! are the most famous of these, there are some little gems that deserve more recognition.

Tommy The Toreador is the story of Tommy Tompkins (Tommy Steele). A seaman stopping off in Spain, Tompkins has to take the place of a famed matador after he is set up and sent to prison.

The plot is slight and not particularly inventive, acting merely as a conduit for getting Steele on a horse.

Not a versatile actor, Steele is amiable enough to be a leading player, especially in an undemanding role like this. Janet Munro is too terse to be a convincing romantic lead.

Several guest stars make fleeting cameos, which are more memorable than the main cast. Carry On stars Sidney James and Kenneth Williams steal the film from under the noses of everybody involved.

Featuring a very catchy soundtrack, many of the numbers stay with you and you may find yourself humming and singing the songs long after the film has finished. A remarkable moment comes with James, Cribbins and Steel performing a song and dance number called Where’s The Birdy?.

A thoroughly enjoyable musical romp, that offers plenty of entertaining, if somewhat outdated, fun.

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