The wrong arm of the law – Film news |

Fully restored and released for the first time on Blu-ray and digital, this 1963 comedy and detective hug stars Peter Sellers and a host of other much-loved faces of 60s and 70s British television as they – despite being rival gangs – are forced to band together in order to stop the IPO Mob (Impersonating Police Officer) from stealing their loot from under their noses!

Former criminal Pearly Gates (Peter Sellers) appears to have undergone a transformation for the better since Detective ‘Nosey’ Parker (Lionel Jeffries) was assigned to sentence him to a serious stint in slammer. That was the late 1940s. Now we are in the early 1960s and Pearly seems to have morphed into an image of respectability with a new pseudonym, namely French fashion designer Monsieur Jules (with a fake French accent to complete image) and now runs a successful French fashion house in London. However, unbeknownst to Annette (Vanda Godsell) – the middle aged lady in charge of organizing private fashion shows etc. – “Mister Jules” still lives up to his old tricks and uses his office as a meeting point for his (mostly dimwitted) members, including Sid Cooper (Graham Stark). When Pearly’s gang manages to steal a mail van which contains not only letters and packages but also a lot of cash, they are baffled when a police car follows them and the Bobbies then recover the stolen goods on behalf of of the law before leaving – without arresting Pearly’s gang! At first, Pearly blames the failed robberies on her men’s incompetence and, under the guise of an interested customer, visits a jewelry store pretending to be interested in some bling for her Missus – only to secretly film the scene. installation of the shop with a camera hidden in its briefcase. Later, he gathers his men and shows them the movie so they can find out where the safe is and how to crack it, even going so far as to suggest that they all watch movies like ‘Rififi’ and ‘The League of Gentlemen’ so his gang can learn a thing or two!

But despite an angry Pearly’s best efforts, these ‘thefts’ by police officers continue and when he and his gang speculate on who might be behind it all – after all, no real Bobby would let a criminal s ‘escape – they conclude that ‘Nervous’ O’Toole (Bernard Cribbins) and his band of rival crooks must be behind the brazen acts. However, when Pearly confronts O’Toole, it appears that her gang has also had their “profits” severely reduced for some time. The stories of cops who followed them and then recovered the stolen property without arresting any of the criminals sound all too familiar… Pearly and O’Toole therefore believe that the “cops” in question are not cops at all but simply a new gang . on the block determined to take back their territory! And they’re right too because it turns out that the “cops” are a group of Australian criminals now operating in London and led by a certain Jack Coombes (Bill Kerr). Along with his accomplices, including Reg Denton (Reg Lye) and Bluey May (Ed Devereaux), Jack’s ever more outrageous antics leave Pearly and all the other gangs out of their pocket!
At a meeting of all the rival gangs Pearly suggests that in order to put a stop to the IPO Mob they must work together to try to trap the ‘Bobby gang’ of course there is still one question that remains makes Pearly and Co. nervous: how come these fake cops always seem to know when a robbery is going to happen? Is there a snitch among Pearly’s gang or O’Tooles? Pearly doesn’t suspect that her latest Missus Valerie (Nanette Newman) is with Coombes and is therefore the real informant…

Meanwhile, the large number of recent robberies has caught the attention of Police Inspector ‘Nosey’ Parker and his Assistant Commissioner (John Le Mesurier) – Parker is certain that Pearly is behind the robberies and when he has a ‘conversation’ with him, he isn’t fooled by his new French identity for a minute. But when Pearly and his gang can all provide proof that they were robbed by cops who aren’t cops, Detective Parker realizes that to save the Force’s reputation, he too must work with Pearly. in order to bring the fake Bobbies to justice… What follows is a crazy storyline that sees a twist at the end that no one can anticipate…

Written by acclaimed British screenwriters Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (accompanied by John Antrobus) and skillfully directed by Cliff Owen, THE BAD ARM OF THE LAW is good old-fashioned entertainment and hilarious crime comedy from an era when London’s rival gangs were always polite to each other (did such a thing ever exist?). Peter Sellers and his “nemesis” Lionel Jeffries are perfect as the two opposite poles who strike up a rapport due to circumstances and the rest of the cast are also in great shape, with Nanette Newman having everyone.
Bonus material includes “John Antrobus Remembers the Wrong Arm of the Law”, the behind-the-scenes gallery and the original trailer.


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