CHARLEY'S (BIG-HEARTED) AUNT
Gainsborough Pictures, 1940. Directed by
Walter Forde. Camera: Arthur Crabtree. With Arthur Askey,
Richard Murdoch, Graham Moffatt, Moore Marriott, J.H. Roberts, Felix Aylmer,
Wally Patch, Phyllis Calvert, Jean De Casalis, Elliott Mason.
film is an adaptation of the Brandon Thomas stage perennial Charley's
Aunt, starring bespectacled British radio comedian
Arthur Askey. Since Askey's professional nickname was "Big-Hearted
Arthur", and since another Charley's Aunt starring
Jack Benny went before the cameras in 1941, the title was slightly
altered for its limited American release.
Otherwise, the story is the same as ever.
Dizzy Oxford student Lord Fancourt Babberly (Askey) is persuaded to pose
as his pal Charley Wyckham's elderly aunt, in order that Charley's and
Jack Chesney's girlfriends will have a proper female escort when they
come to visit. The charade is complicated by the presence of Jack's
father and of one of the girl's guardians, Stephen Spettigue, both of
whom are required by the plotline to "romance" the phoney aunt. Further
gumming up the works is the arrival of the genuine Aunt, with Lord
Fancourt Babberly's erstwhile lady love in tow. Charley's Big-Hearted
Aunt was updated and expanded to allow for the characteristic verbal
patter of the then-popular Arthur Askey.