A Very British Tommy: 'You Lucky People!'

Sentiment, comment and a touch of philosophic contemplation punctuate the situations and the silliness of this very British vintage comedy.

You Lucky People!

Director: Maurice Elvey
Cast: Tommy Trinder, RSM 'Tibby' Brittain, Dora Bryan, Rolf Harris
Distributor: BFI
Rated: U
UK release date: 2011-08-22

There's always a dramatic and comic irony at work in popular culture when times are really tough and bleak. Tommy Trinder excellently epitomised this clownish and charming sense of optimistic morale-boosting entertainment in his career throughout the Second World War. He was famous for his variety act, stand-up comedy and personal appearances to entertain the troops. Radio made him more widely known and his catchphrase ‘You lucky people!’ was heard across the nation.

This film, as a release from the BFI archive, produced by Adelphi Studios in 1955 was an attempt to revive Trinder’s career and exploit the still familiar catchphrase. He plays Tommy Smart and, in an interesting twist, he is the cheeky chappy and lovable rogue who has made good. In the aftermath of the war Smart has become a millionaire by selling off army surplus goods; and even selling the army’s own surplus back to them when they realised they still needed it. There is a real sense of charm and innocence about this film, mostly encouraged by Trinder’s experience and the guileless performance of Dora Bryan, the brilliant Lancashire comedienne, as Sergeant Tipp. She is the lovesick girl helped by Trinder to find happiness.

That is his role throughout, in this sentimental comic piece, directed by Maurice Elvey. He is the fixer and planner, assisting his comrades’ romantic intrigues. In that he is the centre of a gentle farce that reflects British family humour of that period and earlier. Trinder’s ‘act’ is showcased, and it is a tried and tested formula that appealed to an audience of all ages and by this point in time evoked a welcome nostalgic element also. His music hall roots are demonstrated when he turns from banter and light humour to song as he serves drinks in the local pub, then circulates immediately back to banter. His ‘love song’ turns out to have been directed not towards the image of a sweetheart, as it seemed, but to a sign reading ‘Beer is Best’.

The supporting cast includes a young Rolf Harris, who went on to become a tea-time children’s TV favourite and well-known artist and cartoonist. He has recently painted a portrait of the Queen. Regimental Sergeant Major ‘Tibby’ Brittain appears ‘as himself’; having developed a popular turn as the rough training officer who knocks the veteran ‘Z men’ back into shape – or tries to. This role is repeated throughout cinema, from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket to Private Benjamin; a standard experience in the armed forces as it is. The ‘fish-out-of-water’ comic appeal to this is tempered with a sense of the bleakness associated with armed service. The young lieutenant in command of the older recruits is discovered to be a heavy drinker: the prospect of duty and service in Korea getting to him. There is no small satirical edge to this.

That was the characteristic irony found in the work of comics like Trinder; along with the banter and the cheekiness, there could be a real bluntness about the human condition and the opportunity to take a moment to consider this was not shied away from. Sentiment, comment and a touch of philosophic contemplation punctuate the situations and the silliness.

This DVD contains no extras.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.