Spare a Copper

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Spare a Copper
"Spare a Copper" (1940).jpg
Song sheet
Directed by John Paddy Carstairs
Produced by Michael Balcon
Basil Dearden
Written by Basil Dearden
Roger MacDougall
Austin Melford
Starring George Formby
Dorothy Hyson
Bernard Lee
John Warwick
Music by Louis Levy
Cinematography Bryan Langley
Edited by Ray Pitt
Distributed by Associated British
Release dates
December 1940 (London) (UK)
14 April 1941 (UK general release)
Running time
77 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Spare a Copper is a 1940 British, black-and-white, musical comedy war film, directed by John Paddy Carstairs and starring George Formby, Dorothy Hyson and Bernard Lee. It was produced by Associated Talking Pictures. It is also known as Call a Cop. The film features the songs, "I'm The Ukulele Man", "On The Beat", "I Wish I Was Back On The Farm" and "I'm Shy".[1] Beryl Reid makes her film debut in an uncredited role, while Ronald Shiner appears similarly uncredited, in the role of the Piano Mover and Tuner.[2]

Working on the film as associate producer and writer, this was an early assignment for director Basil Dearden: "it was relatively easy to fit the Formby films into the new demands thrown up by the war: whereas George had typically had to overcome rogues and villains in his 1930s films, these were now simply replaced by spies and saboteurs."[3]


Formby plays a bumbling War Reservist police officer called George Carter who aspires to become a member of the flying squad. The film is set in Merseyside where the battleship HMS Hercules is being built. A group of saboteurs are planning to destroy HMS Hercules by blowing it up. George manages to foil the saboteurs' attempts to destroy HMS Hercules, saving the battleship from being blown up by saboteurs. One of the saboteurs, called "Jake", is played by Bernard Lee.


Critical reception[edit]

  • The Times wrote, "the structure of Mr. George Formby's films do not alter very much, and the same blue-print that has done serviceable work in the past was taken out of its drawer for "Spare a Copper"." [3]
  • TV Guide dismissed the film as a "mediocre WW II comedy." [4]
  • Monthly Film Bulletin called it "a good Formby film...With a better story than most." [3]
  • Halliwell's Film Guide wrote, "one of the last good Formby comedies, with everything percolating as it should." [1]
  • George Perry wrote in "Forever Ealing", "the notion of unsuspected German spies in respectable positions was to recur in more serious Ealing films such as The Foreman Went to France and Went the Day Well? These comedy films were judged as very good for public morale at the time while delivering an important message." [5]


  1. ^ a b "Spare A Copper". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  2. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | SPARE A COPPER (1940)". 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  3. ^ a b c The Cinema of Basil Dearden and Michael Relph - Alan Burton, Tim O'Sullivan - Google Books. 
  4. ^ "Spare A Copper Trailer, Reviews and Schedule for Spare A Copper |". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  5. ^ "Spare a Copper 1940 | Britmovie | Home of British Films". Britmovie. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 

External links[edit]