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Band Waggon (1940) Online

Band Waggon (1940) Online
Original Title :
Band Waggon
Genre :
Movie / Comedy / Musical
Year :
Directror :
Marcel Varnel
Cast :
Arthur Askey,Jack Hylton and His Band,Richard Murdoch
Writer :
John Watt,Harry S. Pepper
Type :
Time :
1h 25min
Rating :
Band Waggon (1940) Online

Evicted from the roof of Broadcasting House, Arthur Askey and Stinker Dickie Murdoch move into Droon Castle in Sussex. Not realising that the television equipment they discover is in use by German secret agents they do the obvious thing - put on a show. {locallinks-homepage}
Cast overview, first billed only:
Arthur Askey Arthur Askey - Arthur Askey (as Big Hearted Arthur Askey)
Jack Hylton and His Band Jack Hylton and His Band - Themselves
Richard Murdoch Richard Murdoch - Stinker Murdoch (as Richard Stinker Murdoch)
Pat Kirkwood Pat Kirkwood - Pat (as Patricia Kirkwood)
Moore Marriott Moore Marriott - Jasper
Freddy Schweitzer Freddy Schweitzer - Himself - Accordian Player
Bruce Trent Bruce Trent - Himself
Michael Standing Michael Standing - Himself
C.H. Middleton C.H. Middleton - Himself (as Mr. Middleton)
Jasmine Bligh Jasmine Bligh - Herself
The Sherman Fisher Girls The Sherman Fisher Girls - Dancers (as Sherman Fisher Girls)
Jonah Barrington Jonah Barrington - Himself
Paul Holt Paul Holt - Himself
Peter Gawthorne Peter Gawthorne - Claude Pilkington
Donald Calthrop Donald Calthrop - Hobday

Spin-off from a highly popular BBC Radio series, which ran from January 1938 to December 1939.

The film began shooting on Monday 29th August 1939 at Islington's Gainsborough Studios. Almost immediately there was a three-week or so break as the Second World War was declared on Sunday 3rd September. Shooting resumed at Lime Grove in Shepherd's Bush, west London. By this time however, many of the cast and crew had been called up for active wartime duty, requiring remounts.

Arthur Askey and Jack Hylton commuted to work together in the latter's Rolls Royce.

A novice at the disjointed art of film acting, Askey had memorized the first six pages of script for his first day on set.

As a practical joke, director Max Varnel had Askey - who had been very vocal in complaining about the flying harness sequence - hoisted up to the studio ceiling. He promptly called lunch and abandoned the comedian.

User reviews



This was a spin off from a pioneering BBC musical comedy radio series with Arthur Big-Hearted Askey and Richard Stinker Murdoch as the stars which ran for 55 episodes in 1938/39. Sadly as usual very little survives of those broadcasts, but we can get a flavour of the madness from this film. I taped this on 7th February 1987, in the days when BBC TV used to show Golden Age films at reasonable hours without reason or introduction, and my daughter and I must have seen it more than umpteen times since.

Big and Stinker are discovered after months of living on the roof of Broadcasting House with their chickens and Lewis the goat, waiting for their chance at stardom. On their subsequent aimless travels in their overladen car, the Askeytoff II, they end up renting the haunted Droom Castle for the princely sum of £3. The perfectly natural explanation for the ghost is that Nazis are at the bottom of it all (in the basement), using a TV hook-up to Berlin of course. Arthur has a much better idea: put on a pirate TV station and broadcast a music show that night in competition with the stuffy old BBC. Jack Hylton (and Louis Levy!) and his band plus the then 18 year old Pat Kirkwood were used well in The (very long) Melody Maker, Band Waggon, Heaven Would Be Heavenly, The Only One Who's Difficult Is You, A Pretty Little Bird Am I and Boomps-A-Daisy. It must have seemed a little strange when released in March 1940: BBC TV had closed down 2 days before War with Germany was declared in September 1939 and Band Waggon had ended its radio run in the November. Favourite bits: Big and Stinker waking up to another day's idling on the BBC roof; entering the castle for the first time; the Old King Cole oratorio; Pat Kirkwood in pirate costume; Arthur on a dusty organ reprising his Big-Hearted theme song. A few of his routines can sound very camp this side of WW2, but there won't ever be another like him. Jack Hylton's recording career began in 1921 but he only made a dozen more recordings after doing the 78's for this - the vibrant British Dance Band scene had shifted to flat foxtrots, American Swing and Latin American rhythms and the War seemed a good time to change jobs too. Pat Kirkwood died Christmas 2007 as the last survivor of this film, indeed of pre-War British musical comedy. In these days when the Queen showers honours like confetti on rugby players and myriad chancers alike Kirkwood's 60 year career was rewarded with a 60 year grudge.

This was one of Arthur's best films with Ghost Train and Back Room Boy still to come and well worth the price of the budget DVD to see what made him and Murdoch tick, along with plenty of pre-War humour and a rather quaint view of television.


This is one of the earliest spin offs this time of the 1939 radio programme.The plot such as it is is concocted around of all things a TV broadcast.The original show was a combination of sketches stand up routines and music hall turns,and the film rather adheres to that.I suppose whether or not you like this film will to a certain extent depend on how much you like Arthur Askey.It has to be said that there is an awful lot of him in this film.Probably far too much.His stooge is Richard "Stinker"Murdoch.I have no idea how he got his nickname.There are a lot of musical numbers which are pleasant but fairly undistinguished.Moore Marriot and Pat Kirkwood are in support.This would be one of the last appearances of Jack Hylton before he would take on his entrepreneurial role in the West End.
Longitude Temporary

Longitude Temporary

Arthur Askey's films must have a lot of sentimental value, but his comedy hasn't aged well. In fact, he's very irritating in most of his films. What makes The Band Waggon interesting, is the only opportunity to see the greatest British dance band leader Jack Hylton and his orchestra in their only screen performance. It's a pity they didn't do more films. The songs aren't great hits, but solid good material. The other thing that makes this film interesting is its fascination with the television. It's one of the very first films, where TV is the leading character. Sure, the process is shown in a fantastic manner which is very far from the reality, but it's great fun to watch the final sequence. The overblown showstopper Melody Maker Man - dozens of performers busting their arses while the only member of the audience fails to utterly notice the goings-on around him - is an often used gimmick, but very funny indeed. Be sure to watch the proper DVD release and not a bootleg copy.


A couple years ago, I discovered that there are lots of wonderful films free for download in the public domain. Among these are a lot of films from Gainsborough Pictures. While I like the Will Hay ones quite a bit and am glad I discovered his film, for the life of me I cannot understand the appeal of Arthur Askey. Perhaps if I were a Brit and grew up with him--all I know is that the 6-8 films of his that I have seen simply don't appeal to me. And, I am not sure I'll ever acquire a taste for his style of singing and mugging.

Apparently, Askey became famous for his BBC show "Band Waggon" and this is a movie that is based just a tiny bit on it--though it's complete fiction. The film finds a group of musicians out of work--the same can be said for Askey and his partner, Richard "Stinker" Murdoch. But the two groups don't find each other until much later in the film. In the meantime, Murdoch and Askey have a run-in with a seemingly haunted castle. It really isn't, but Moore Marriott runs about the place scaring people and pretending to be a ghost. I really wish they'd done MUCH more of this, as Marriott is a very funny supporting actor and I would have enjoyed more humor and far less singing in this film. Regardless, the pair run away from the castle and meet up with the unemployed musicians. Then, they learn that the ghost was NOT a ghost and they and their musician friends return to the castle. There they find TV equipment (something still in its infancy) and decide that instead of asking more questions, they'll just put on a show and broadcast it. In the meantime, there are Nazi spies running about--and the equipment is theirs--as are some stolen secret plans. It all becomes very confusing and instead of really straightening it all out, they have a long series of musical and comedy sketches they broadcast to Britain.

I think my biggest problem with the film was Askey, though all the singing didn't help, either. Askey was just obnoxious--loud, unfunny and talentless. His singing in the quintet was a skit with no humor and he just came off as a boorish idiot. In fact, I found it a chore to watch--except when Moore Marriott was in the film. Overall, a bad film that ages very poorly. It's incoherence and bizarre plot was not a problem (after all, I liked "Hellzapoppin" with Olson and Johnson) but Askey was. What a horrible little man.
Mr Freeman

Mr Freeman

Directed by Marcel Varnel and starring Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Patricia Kirkwood and Moore Marriott, Band Waggon is based on the hugely popular BBC radio show of the same name. Band Waggon is very much a British throwback to a time when comedy was almost chaotic in execution, where malarkey ruled the wave. To that end the film is a sure fire hit, performances are hitting the right notes and direction from the fabulous Varnel is suitably breezy. Within the running time of under 85 minutes, film is chocked full of enough set-ups to fill out another movie as well, there is no doubting the value for money given to British cinema goers back in 1940. Sample songs, shenanigans, spies and spirits along the way, and film closes with an elongated song and show routine as a time bomb cheerily ticks down to potential detonation.

It's hardly great comedy and it's far from being Askey's best film, but it has some solid laughs and it remains eternally silly for all the right cinematic reasons. 6/10


"Band Waggon" marked the cinema of vaudeville entertainer Arthur Askey and his comedy partner Richard Murdoch. The title of the film is taken from a successful radio comedy from the B.B.C, staring Askey and Murdoch. The plot is absolutely non-existent as this vehicle is merely a way of advertising new talent from "Gainsborough" studios. The whole thing has dated badly and the comedy is outnumbered by those bloody music numbers - with less than successful results! Every time someone begins singing, I immediately fast forward my DVD of "Band Waggon." Moore Marriott makes another appearance as Harbottle but is thoroughly wasted, as is Peter Gawthorne. Both actors were put to FAR better use in Will Hay comedies. The subplot about a group of Nazis hiding out in a supposedly haunted house is both lame and poorly handled. It was only added into the film as an afterthought. The only remotely positive thing I can throw in the film's direction, is that at least Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch are able to communicate on the same wavelength as each other. In hindsight, they should have stayed together for more films after 1941. A curious museum piece but nothing more.


George Formby's nearest rival was small-in-stature but loud-of- voice, Arthur Askey. Askey always introduced himself as "Big-Hearted Arthur" on his radio program. Needless to say that Askey's movie appearances were strongly supported by this hit BBC radio program, "Band Waggon", which was itself turned into this wonderfully daft musical comedy (featuring Jack Hylton's band and a round dozen musical numbers) in 1940.

In the West End, the movie "Band Waggon" ran 85 minutes, but it was cut to 80 minutes for general release. ITV claim their DVD is the original 85 minutes version. It's possible, even though the present master negative itself is only 7,163 feet (= 79.5 minutes). TV airings have always used this version.

As I say, it's possible ITV managed to get hold of an original 35mm or 16mm print. I'd be pleasantly surprised if this was the case, but frankly I'm not prepared to spend $16 or so to find out, even though the 7,163 feet version definitely belongs on any list of Britain's top musical comedies.

In short, "Band Waggon" is a most amusing free-for-all of satire, one-liners, slapstick chases, comic cut-ups and lavish production numbers, all expertly rendered by a gifted cast directed by Marcel Varnel.