I always enjoy reviewing re-releases of old films, they remind us, and in some cases introduce us to some classic greats. One of these that has been released in The Goose Steps Out which is getting a special 75th anniversary release, and is a comedy great from the 1940s.
Will Hay plays William Pots, a bumbling teacher who turns out to be the double of a German general. Sent to Germany to impersonate the general and steal a new bomb the Nazis are working on, he finds himself having to teach a group of students how to spy on the British.
Watching The Goose Steps Out it is easy to see this was a piece of propaganda used to cheer up people at home during World War 2. The fact that it was released in 1942 also gives this fact away. What this allows for though is some very impressive satire, and word play that works well even to this day.
Most of the fun poked at language looks at the different way the German characters say English things. A good example of this is when he tries to teach the German students how to say the names of UK counties and cities. This is a kind of humour that doesn’t date, because we all know how people from other countries say UK names differently (and vice-versa).
While there is a lot of word play, this doesn’t mean that we don’t see some slapstick humour too. This includes a very good scene in which Hay has to steal the Nazi bomb. The fact he manages to mess it up is secondary to his attempt to infiltrate the lab where it is held, and to escape it. The comedy is well thought out and again, it is a style of comedy that never ages. This is what makes The Goose Steps Out so much fun to watch.
While Will Hay does tend to dominate the screen with his performance there are some other impressive names in the cast. This includes Peter Ustinov, and a young Charles Hawtrey. With Hawtrey my main experience of his movies is the Carry On movies in which of course he is much older. It’s interesting to see him so young, especially for a fan of the films that came so many years after this.
The Goose Steps Out is a satirical and light-hearted take on World War 2 espionage, but more than that it is also an example of how comedy can be timeless. With a dash of slapstick but more of a focus on wordplay, The Goose Steps Out is a must see for fans of classic comedy.
Actors like Will Hay may be long gone, but their movies live on to show how the original greats created the building blocks of the comedy we see in modern movies. The Goose Steps Out is a good example of this, and while the WW2 setting may age, the comedy we see in the movie never will.
The Goose Steps Out is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.