The Skulls
Starring: Tommy Steele, Julia Foster, Cyril Ritchard, Penelope Horner, Elaine Taylor
Director: George Sidney
Year of release: 1968
Country: UK
Screen shots

(click to enlarge)
Plot summary
Half a Sixpence was inspired by an H.G. Wells short story "Kipps". The original book was a statement about the class divide and was semi-autobiographical for its author, who but for chance might have never advanced past the station of draper's assistant. The film however is a watered down version of the 1965 stage musical with none of it's charm and somewhat lacking in the plot department. It follows the adventures of an orphaned department store apprentice, Arthur Kipps, who discovers he's inherited a fortune from his Grandfather and quits his job without checking with the bank...

Kipps' new-found wealth comes with an unexpected pricetag: money cannot buy happiness, for with wealth comes instant loneliness, and awkward dealings with too-predictably snobby upperclass folk.

Kipps is carried off by the charms of Helen, a lady intent on marrying him even though he clearly doesn't fit in with her stuffy brother and insufferable mother.

Yes, here is yet another 1960s British production which tries to drive home the stereotype that the cash-strapped working class are a jolly, wacky bunch while the wealthy are a cold, emotionally sterile collection.

Rowing info
Despite being of humble stock, the newly wealthy Kipps gets invited to stroke the Leander coxed IV at Henley Royal. He's soon presented with a nice pink blazer but proceeds to make several social gaffs, like trying to put his own boat in the water rather than leaving it to the be-gloved footmen(?) who do all the hard work (always knew Leander men were a bit soft).

A quick glass of champers before boating and it's time to face their opposition -- an East-end crew of Tradesmen who are olds friends of Kipps and brand him a traitor for "rowin' wiv the toffs".

Of course, if you know your rowing history at all, you'll realise that working men weren't allowed to row at the Royal (which was restricted to 'Amateur' gentlemen) until 1938, but just as you're thinking "that would never happen", the whole thing goes pearshaped -- as they all break out into a Gilbert and Sullivanesque rendition of "the race is on".

At this point in the film, make sure you've picked yourself off the floor quick enough to watch the APPALLINGLY bad rowing on show - not to mention the strange things that happen to the course (they race through Henley bridge and the old OUBC boathouse appears to have moved to Henley)...

Truely dreadful, but the rowing bits are VERY, VERY funny (in a way it was never supposed to be)

back to the movies