The Goons in Film
As with the attempts to transfer the Goon Show style of humor to TV, film productions featuring the Goons had varying amounts of success. Here are the key Goon films that were produced...
Penny Points to Paradise
Writer: John Ormonde, Director: Tony Young, Released: 1951
This relatively unknown film was the first big screen production that the Goons appeared in near the start of their careers. Harry Flakers (played by Harry Secombe) wins a large sum of money on the football pools. He and his friend Spike Donnelly (played by Spike Milligan) are plagued by fortune hunters and counterfeiters trying to steal the money. Although not written by Spike Milligan or featuring the well known surreal 'Goon humor' that would develop over the following years, the film is important as the motion picture debut for Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers. [Available to buy on DVD]
Let's Go Crazy
Writer: Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, Director: Alan Cullimore, Released: 1951
Let's Go Crazy was reputedly written and created by Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan during a week of free studio time that was remaining after shooting on "Penny Points to Paradise" had been completed. The film features a number of variety acts. The Goon's contribution consists of various comedy dialogues chiefly featuring Peter Sellers in a selection of different characters. [Available to buy on DVD]
Down Among the Z Men
Writers: Jimmy Grafton and Francis Charles, Director: Maclean Rogers, Producer: E.J. Fancey, Released: 1952
The film was co-written by Jimmy Grafton who was also co-writing The Goon Show with Spike Milligan at the time. As with 'Penny Points to Paradise', this film does not contain the madcap Goon humor for which the radio show would become famous, however, it does include some established characters from the show including Eccles and Bloodnok. Also, the basic plot structure of shifty crooks trying to fiddle a honest yet gullible idiot to get what they want would later form the basis of nearly every Goon Show episode.
Despite being regarded as a rather poor film by today's standards, it's interesting viewing for any Goon fan and serves as a record of the early development of the Goons before Michael Bentine left the show. 'Down Among the Z Men' is the only film that all four orginal Goons appear in together. [Available to buy on DVD]
The Case of the Mukkinese Battle-Horn
Writers: Harry Booth, Jan Pennington, Larry Stephens with additional material by Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, Director: Joseph Sterling, Producers: Jon Pennington, Harry Booth, Michael Deeley, Released: 1956
The short film 'The Case of the Mukkinese Battle-Horn' is considered to be the best transferal of The Goons Show to screen, despite not being written by Spike Milligan. Released as the Goons reached the peak of their success, the film contains many of the well known Goon characters and a style of humor that is typically Goonish.
Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan star in a number of roles including 2 bumbling detectives searching for a stolen Mukkinese Battle-Horn. Harry Secombe does not appear in the film, instead he is replaced by Dick Emery who appeared in a number of Goon Shows.
It is noticable that Superintendent Quilt played by Peter Sellers bears a distinct resemblance to the Inspector Clouseau character that would make him an international star some years later.
The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film
Devised By: Peter Sellers, Thoughts By: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Mario Fabrizi and Dick Lester, Director: Dick Lester, Released: 1960
The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film is an unusual movie in many ways. This 11 minute short was recorded using a camera owned by Peter Sellers and was filmed over two Sundays in 1959, at a total price of £70 - £5 of which involved rental of a field for use. In stark contrast to the radio shows, the film has no dialogue or plot and relied purely on a sequence of visual gags and situations. Despite this, the humor is pretty surreal and Goon-like. Although little more than a home movie, it lected the ambitions of some of those involved to break into the movies - and it worked. The film was nominated for 'Best Live Action Short' Academy Award in 1960 and won an award at The San Francisco Film Festival. The Director, Dick Lester would go on to to work with The Beatles in the music video of 'A Hard Day's Night' and become a successful film director. [Available to buy on DVD] - Included on "The Peter Sellers Story - As He Filmed It" Documentary.