Mister Ten Per Cent (1967) Poster

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"Now we know what's inside a Dalek!"
ShadeGrenade23 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
'Mister Ten Per Cent' ( 1967 ), Charlie Drake's final film, is memorable chiefly for a plot which uncannily predicts Mel Brooks' 'The Producers', made the following year. The diminutive, ginger-haired comic plays 'Percy Pointer', a construction worker who fancies himself as a budding playwright. On completing what he regards as his masterpiece, a study of the British aristocracy entitled 'Oh My Lord!', he sends it to a couple of shady theatrical impresarios - played by Derek Nimmo and John Le Mesurier - who recognise it for the rubbish it is and put it on hoping it will flop, enabling them to fiddle the books. Things do not go according to plan - audiences find the play funny and it becomes a surprise hit. Disappointed, Percy decides to destroy the Frankenstein monster he has unwittingly created...

Written by 'Carry On' scribe Norman Hudis and Drake himself ( from a story by Mira Avrech...no, I've never heard of him/her before either ), this predictably lacks the bad taste of 'The Producers', playing more as a traditional British film comedy farce, with lots of slapstick. When audiences laugh at Percy's play, we are meant to feel sorry for him as he walks along the sea front all alone. The major difference comes in the later part of the film; to try and pay off the numerous backers, Percy takes on additional jobs, such as working in a chemist's ( he has a run in with a tight-fisted man, played by John Laurie of 'Dad's Army', who has a headache and refuses to pay for more than one aspirin at a time ). These bits look like left-overs from 'The Worker'.

Like a lot of British comics, Drake never looked at home on the big screen. The best of his four pictures was 'The Cracksman', also directed by the late Peter Graham Scott. 'Cent' is worth watching mainly for the supporting cast, which includes George Baker, Wanda Ventham, Joyce Blair, Una Stubbs, Noel Dyson, and Anthony Nicholls. The amusing dream sequences feature Charlie in romantic clinches with Justine Lord and Annette Andre. There is a badly misjudged final scene as Percy makes an impassioned speech to the guffawing audience, demanding to know why they find his play funny.

Drake returned to television, moving eventually into straight acting. The idea of the 'talentless playwright' was later picked up by Eddie Braben, who adapted it for Ernie Wise.

Funniest moment - the opening where a policeman ( Colin Douglas ) on the beat catches Percy sleeping overnight outside a theatre because he wishes to catch the first performance of 'Swan Lake'.
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Another TV comic bites the dust
jongibbo21 December 2019
This was, I believe, the last film to be made by the old Associated British Picture Corporation before they were acquired by EMI. ABPC, like their rivals Rank, made films to be shown in their own cinemas. While Rank operated the Odeon chain of cinemas, ABPC for their part operated the ABC cinema chain, so in theory it should have been guaranteed a widespread release. In fact, it performed so appallingly badly when first shown that it was pulled from most ABC cinemas. I saw it at the New Coliseum, Whitley Bay, one of the few ABC cinemas to have actually shown it, although it was relegated to the bottom half of a double-bill with a revival of the Dam Busters, also made by ABPC but a much better film. Mr. Ten Per Cent, I thought was awful, not at all funny, so it's failure was hardly a surprise. By that time, ABPC had largely abandoned film making, however under EMI, Brian Forbes was installed at Elstree Studios to oversee a revival of film production there, but Mr. Ten Per Cent was the last gasp of the old regime.
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