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The Plank (1979)

This is a pantomime about two construction workers, who discover that a plank is missing from the floor they are just building. They discover that two children have taken the plank and use ... See full summary »

Director:

Eric Sykes

Writer:

Eric Sykes
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Sykes ... Larger Workman
Arthur Lowe ... Smaller Workman
Lionel Blair ... Paint-covered House Owner
Henry Cooper ... Beer drinker
Harry H. Corbett ... Amorous Van Driver
Bernard Cribbins ... House painter
Robert Dorning Robert Dorning ... Fork-Lift Truck Driver
Diana Dors ... Woman with Rose
Charlie Drake ... Delivery man with cake
Jimmy Edwards Jimmy Edwards ... Policeman
Liza Goddard ... Young lady helped across the road
Deryck Guyler ... Milkman
Charles Hawtrey ... Co-Driver
Frankie Howerd ... Photographer
James Hunt ... One-Eyed Truck Driver
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Storyline

This is a pantomime about two construction workers, who discover that a plank is missing from the floor they are just building. They discover that two children have taken the plank and use it for a seesaw. Instead of taking it back, they decide to go and buy a new one. However, this may not have been a very good idea, for all the troubles and problems they encounter, just by buying a plank, are countless. Written by Anders E Lundin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

remake | See All (1) »

Genres:

Short | Comedy

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 December 1979 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Deska See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Thames Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Windsor's character is the driver who leans out of his car window tapping his watch, as he does so a short burst of the Music Hall tune "If you want to know the time, Ask a Policeman". Windsor was well known in the UK for playing a detective in Z Cars (1962) and later Softly Softly (1966) See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Snowroller - Sällskapsresan II (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

 
I just don't get it, I'm afraid
1 March 2000 | by alice liddellSee all my reviews

The main appeal of this short is probably the cameos from a certain strata of 60s and 70s British comedy that support leads Eric Sykes and Arthur Lowe - Lionel Blair, Harry H. Corbett, Bernard Cribbins, Frankie Howerd, Reg Varney, Joanna Lumley, the guy from GEORGE AND MILDRED etc. Unfortunately, (with the exception of the great Charles Hawtrey) this is the comedy against which I've always defined my own loves - e.g. MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS, REGINALD PERRIN, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE LIKELY LADS, FAWLTY TOWERS etc. - so there isn't much enjoyment for me here. But it's rare that popular TV stars experiment with the riches of short silent comedy, so I gave it a go.

The first barrier to pleasure is not the profusion of performers I have never found funny, but the aggressive laughter track stuck on, telling me how truly hilarious what I'm watching is, when it clearly, bewilderingly, isn't. The gags are so obvious, and are set up so far in advance, and are executed as precisely as you expected, that not only can you not understand why everybody's enjoying themselves; but you get the feeling that you are not watching a comedy, but a lecture in the mechanics of comedy theorems.

The plot concerns two builders, Sykes and Lowe, who are laying the wood foundations of a new house, only to find one plank stolen by children to make a see-saw. They head off to the plankyard (or whatever it's called) in their clapped out old car, and the rest of the film details their chaotic, socially disruptive, attempts to bring it back to the house.

There is some abstract pleasure in seeing a plot dominated not by bewildered comics, but a piece of wood, which probably dramatises some Marxist gubbins about the commodity fetish and the alienation of the worker from his labour. There is an intriguing contrast between the very British cast and their brand of saucy seaside humour, and the very abstract Anywhere-ville that frames their adventures, a new housing estate under construction and some generalsised suburbs.

This, and the pleasing, bouncy music, give the film a HULOT-esque feel, but there is none of Tati's complex struggle between individual and environment (or hilarity). This rush of new building and the profusion of labourers give some sense of 70s Britain, its anonymity and dehumanisation, while the ultimate circularity of the plot calls into question the very progress (eg economic) that allows the film's content.

While the leads are sympathetic in their passivity, the jokes and slapstick are so old, corny and uninventive, stolen from hundreds of better 20s comedies. Men get splattered by paint, hit by the plank, are run into a pond etc. The one genuinely funny sequence is when the great Wilfred Hyde-White tries to cross a busy road and his walking-stick is broken.


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