School For Scoundrels | 1960
Forget the recent remake, this is the real thing – classic comedy from a time when cast of British stalwarts could make it all look so easy. Mild-mannered loser Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) takes lessons in one-upmanship from the cynical Mr Potter (Alastair Sim) in this film adaptation of Stephen Potter’s books, from the director of the magnificent Kind Hearts and Coronets.
The railway station at which Palfrey alights on his way to Potter’s ‘College of Lifemanship’ is supposed to be ‘Yeovil, Somerset’. It's actually much closer to the studio than the West Country. The station, pretty much unchanged today, is Hertford East, Hertfordshire.
The Manor Hotel (formerly the Edgwarebury Hotel), Edgwarebury Lane, off Barnett Lane, Elstree, became the tennis club where Palfrey is embarrassed by his wonderfully clunky Swiftmobile, before turning the tables on caddish Raymond Delauney (Terry-Thomas).
A movie favourite – hardly surprising since it’s so close to Elstree Studios – the hotel has been seen in 1939’s Sons of the Sea, with Leslie Banks, the rather dated 1971 Agatha Christie mystery Endless Night, the 1970s black comedy Hawks (with ER’s Anthony Edwards and Bond-to-be Timothy Dalton), Hide and Seek (1963), Not Now Comrade and, most memorably, Hammer’s The Devil Rides Out and (briefly) Hot Fuzz.
Palfrey’s apartment is on the top floor of the splendidly named (and virtually unchanged) Thurlby Croft, Mulberry Close, off Parson Street, Hendon, London NW4 (top picture).
The car showroom, at which Dunston and Dudley (Dennis Price and Peter Jones) sell Henry the terrific Swiftmobile, still exists, though the business – strangely – no longer stocks that particular model. It’s Colin Collins, 90-108 Pinner Road, Harrow (now a Hyundai dealership) in Greater London.