What a Carve Up! (film)
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|What a Carve Up!|
|Directed by||Pat Jackson|
|Produced by||Robert S. Baker
|Written by||Ray Cooney
|Music by||Muir Mathieson|
|Edited by||Gordon Pilkington|
New World Films Ltd.
|Distributed by||Regal Films International (UK)
Embassy Pictures (US)
|15 September 1961(UK)|
What a Carve Up! is a 1961 British comedy horror film directed by Pat Jackson. It was released in the United States in 1962 as No Place Like Homicide. The film was loosely based on the novel The Ghoul by Frank King. A previous version titled The Ghoul was filmed in 1933 by Gaumont-British Pictures.
The relatives of Gabriel Broughton are summoned to Blackshore Towers, an old, isolated country house in the middle of moorlands in Yorkshire, to hear the reading of his will. Gabriel's nervous nephew Ernest brings along his flatmate Syd for support. At the large, gloomy mansion, they meet Guy Broughton, Ernest's cousin; Malcolm Broughton, a piano player who claims everyone is "quite mad"; Janet Broughton and Dr Edward Broughton, Guy's sister and father, respectively; Emily Broughton, a dotty old woman who believes the First World War is still on; and Linda Dixon, Gabriel's nurse. To their surprise, the solicitor Everett Sloane reveals that they have all inherited nothing, except for Linda, who is bequeathed Gabriel's medicines and syringe, much to her amusement.
When the lights go out, Ernest and Syd accompany Fisk, the butler, outside to try to effect repairs. They are unsuccessful, but on the way back, they find the body of Dr Broughton. Syd states it was murder, but when he tries to telephone the police, he discovers the wire has been cut. They are stuck there overnight. Sloane recommends they all lock themselves in their rooms. Ernest gets lost and enters Linda's room by mistake. She proposes that he stay the night with her. Ernest beats a hasty retreat. He persuades the imperturbable Syd to share his room.
When Ernest goes to use the toilet, someone tries to stab the sleeping Syd, then desists when he speaks up. Ernest starts playing "Chopsticks" on the organ. Malcolm joins him in a duet, but is stabbed in the back. Ernest's screams bring the others. Sloane observes that the room was locked from the inside, so the solicitor recommends locking him in. Syd stays with him, certain he is not the killer. They discover a secret passage. The survivors decide to remain together in the lounge for safety, but Janet is struck by a poison dart shot from behind a painting on the wall. They suspect Fisk, who was not present, but he has an airtight alibi. Sloane decides on his own to go to the village and fetch the police. When the others return to the room, Emily, who remained behind, insists she spoke to Gabriel. Syd and Guy check the coffin; Gabriel's body is there. Then Ernest claims he also saw Gabriel. He finds another secret passage that leads to the now empty coffin. Then Guy disappears, along with his gun.
Finally, Police Inspector Arkwright arrives. He is skeptical that murders have been committed, especially since there are no bodies, but then Guy's is found. When Ernest goes to fetch Syd, they find Sloane in a fountain outside, so he could not have sent the policeman. However, the inspector - Gabriel in disguise - still manages to take them all prisoner with Guy's pistol. He explains his motive: his relatives sponged off of him for years and treated him badly. He then locks them in and sets starved dogs on them, but when he tries to shoot Fisk, he misses and triggers a lethal trap instead, which drops a chandelier on him. The dogs, it turns out, were fed by Fisk, so they constitute no danger. The next day, to Ernest's disappointment, Linda's boyfriend, teen idol Adam Faith, comes to collect her.
- Sid James as Syd Butler, a bookmaker who acts as Ernest's legal advisor
- Kenneth Connor as Ernest Broughton, a proofreader and nephew of the deceased
- Shirley Eaton as Linda Dixon, a pretty nurse who likes Ernie
- Dennis Price as Guy Broughton, Ernie's cousin, an ex-officer and a heavy drinker
- Donald Pleasence as Everett Sloane, a solicitor
- Michael Gough as Fisk, the butler
- Esma Cannon as Emily Broughton, the aunt of Ernest, Guy and Janet
- Valerie Taylor as Janet Broughton, Guy's grasping sister
- Michael Gwynn as Malcolm Broughton
- George Woodbridge as Dr Edward Broughton, the brother of Gabriel and father of Janet and Guy
- Philip O'Flynn as Gabriel Broughton and Arkwright, the police inspector
- Frederick Piper as the hearse driver
- Timothy Bateson as the porter
- Adam Faith in an uncredited role as himself
"At one point in No Place Like Homicide, a giggling maniac threatens to feed the rest of the cast to a pack of starving mongrels. 'Oh, blimey', smirks one of the victims, 'we're going to the dogs'. The rest of the humour in this ostensible British farce is on a similar level. The fact that a film of this degree of vulgarity and ineptitude should have managed a week's booking at neighbourhood theatres throughout Manhattan demonstrates just how acute the motion picture product shortage really is." - New York Times, 13 September 1962.
The film was used extensively within Jonathan Coe's satirical novel What a Carve Up!. The book's protagonist, Michael Owen, becomes obsessed with the film after first watching it as a young boy. Additionally, the last part of the book follows the plot of the film.
What a Carve Up! was released on DVD in the UK on 11 August 2008.
- Hallenbeck, Bruce G (2009). Comedy Horror Films: a chronological history 1914-2008. London: McFarland. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7864-3332-2.