Village of Daughters (1962)
Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Eric Sykes, Scilla Gabel, Grégoire Aslan, Yvonne Romain, John Le Mesurier
Director: George Pollock
Release Date: 13 March 1962
Length: 86 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
All of the eligible bachelors have left a small Italian town to try and find work, leaving a village full of single women of a marriageable age. When a wealthy bachelor writes to the mayor of the village requesting a bride, it throws the entire village into chaos. Each father insists that his daughter is the one for the wealthy Antonio Durigo and everyone despairs of ever being able to reach a decision. The village priest declares that, in answer to his prayers, a stranger will come to the village and he will be the one who selects the appropriate bride for Durigo. Enter Herbert Harris (Eric Sykes), an unlucky British traveling salesman who is traveling across Europe, desperately trying to unload his wares. The village seizes on Herbert as an answer from God and demand that he select the future bride for Antonio. Of course, madcap adventures ensue as Herbert milks his position in the village for all he can get, a series of mistake identities leads to a centuries-old vendetta, and beautiful, young Angelina (Scilla Gabel) wonders why no one else can see what a simpleton Herbert is.
I was expecting this movie to be better than it was. The storyline was funny sounding all on its own and the plot should have enabled the actors to get plenty of laughs, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Instead, the story was pretty much burned out after about 30 minutes and then the movie kind of meandered around as the writers and director tried to fill the time to make this a feature length movie. Still, there are moments of charm that are pretty entertaining and the movie is not a complete loss.
This movie is an old-fashioned black and white feature, which suited the style of the movie and the story. Eric Sykes, who played Herbert Harris, was pretty funny as the lead character and he uses some great physical comedy to elicit laughs. The rest of the village are portrayed as typical Italians, complete with lots of hand waving, spaghetti dinners, and constant verbal arguing. The supporting cast was able and fun to get to know, but I kept getting all of the Italians and their daughters confused.
I caught this movie on TV and cannot find that it is available on DVD or video at this time, which is a bit surprising considering how prolific Eric Sykes was as a working actor and how easy it would be to release a collection of his comedies. Still, this particular feature is not terribly strong so perhaps it is due to lack of demand. I enjoyed the first 30 minutes and the last 20 minutes or so, but did find myself a bit bored in the middle. Ultimately, I enjoyed this movie, but it was nothing outstanding and I will not be going out of my way to watch it again.
This movie shows Herbert making out with various Italian girls, wine drinking and lots of verbal arguments/discussions. Appropriate for viewers of all ages, recommended for ages 8 and up.