Captain Ambrose comes from a long line of distinguished sailors, but is all too susceptible to seasickness. After the war, he buys himself a nautical command on shore, a decrepit amusement pier at the British resort town Sandcastle-on-Sea, whose prim town council has outlawed arcade games as a form of gambling. Running the pier like a Naval vessel, the Captain’s determination to make it a modern, going concern meets steady opposition. But with an unexpected new ally, he pursues a remarkable scheme to liberate his “ship” from land authorities.
Rod Crawford <[email protected]>
User Reviews: Alec Guinness was pretty dismissive of Barnacle Bill and the similarities between Kind Hearts And Coronets are too obvious to ignore. Barnacle Bill is not as good as Kind Hearts, but it’s still yet another amusing item from Ealing Studios. A place which had birthed Guinness’s career as a star but which he would take leave of shortly. This was his last film under that banner.
This captain truly hates the sea. Following in a naval tradition of his ancestors, one that was less than distinguished, Guinness gets his commission, but he is cursed by mal de mer. This captain cannot deal with sea duty, so he’s given land based duty throughout the late war and is now retired.
But he’s an enterprising soul and buys a rundown amusement pier in a seaside resort. Unfortunately some of the local politicians have plans for a Pacific coast type highway and they’ve slated the pier for demolition. The film is about Guinness’s struggles against the local political machine.
Given that kind of plot I’m sure the film found favor on this side of the pond. Urban dwelling Americans would have known exactly what was going on. Barnacle Bill also compares with Jerry Lewis’s film Don’t Give Up The Ship where he too came from a less than distinguished naval family and Lewis has bits as several of his ancestors.
Barnacle Bill is not the best of Alec Guinness’s Ealing comedies, but it’s still lots of fun. In the end our land bound sailor finally does get to sea and he fights a naval engagement of sorts. You’l have to watch to see what I mean.