1937.Director:Marcel Varnel. Producer:Edward Black.
Sreenplay:Val Guest ~Marriott Edgar ~Leslie Arliss
Editor:R.E.Dearing ~ Alfred Roome
Musical Direction:Louis Levy.Sript Editor:Frank Launder
A Gainsborough Picture.Distributed by Gaumont British 78mins
This is the first of the Will Hay comedies directed by Marcel Varnel and is filled with typically broad humour. Graham Moffatt appears after his success in Windbag the Sailor but there is no place for Moore Marriott. There is a classic scene early in the film where a man at the classroom window, is trying to attract the attention of a pupil who he wishes to speak to. It turns into a silent comedy sequence with everyone including Hay joining in the pantomime and taking it in turns to point out the pupil.
In this film we find Hay in his schoolmaster role as the head of that infamous seat of learning St.Michael's. Early in the film Hay asks a schoolboy a question that he cannot answer. 'Go to the bottom of the class' exclaims Hay. 'Well I am at the bottom of the class.' replies the schoolboy. 'Well go to the top and remember you're a lap behind!' replies the insistent Hay. The new school Governor is not impressed with Hay's teaching methods and threatens him with the sack. Hay defends his teaching methods and is given one last chance to show what he and his class can do in a inter-schools examination in London. By mistake Hay comes into contact with the examination papers and the boys decide to keep a copy for themselves. Hay wants to return the missing papers but he is reminded that if the boys fail he will lose his job, Hay agrees to keep the missing papers.
Hay hands out a book to each pupil so they can swot up. Albert claims that there is a misdeal and that he has got two books, another pupil asks Hay 'Have I got to learn these names?' 'Yes certainly' 'What all of them?' 'Yes, all of them' 'Well there are thousands of them!' 'I don't care if there are millions, you've got to learn them' 'What, and the numbers too?' 'What are you talking about..and the numbers too, what have you got there?....why you've got the telephone book!!!'
The boys emerge from the examination with top marks and as a prize they are invited to Paris to demonstrate Hay's system of teaching at a education conference. One of the pupils fathers escapes from the local prison and passes off as a schoolboy to hide his identity. It turns out that it is all part of a plot to get him to Paris were he can steal the Mona Lisa from The Louvre.
Once in Paris, Hay follows his boys into the Cuisine du Diable nightclub where he succumbs to the wonderful charms of Yvette, the club's singer, who in reality is also working for the gang who intend to steal the Mona Lisa, by way of copying it and making a switch. The switch is made and Hay is unwittingly involved as it is left to him to get the painting out of The Louvre without detection which he successfully does thanks to his involvement with the French Education authorities.
The crooks try to frame Hay for the stolen picture but Albert and the boys come to his rescue at the official reception where Hay is demonstrating his system of teaching called 'Twisterism'. The crooks are caught and the Mona Lisa is returned to it's rightful place and they are offered a reward of 50,000 francs