'Time Gentlemen, Please!' is a fairly gentle social comedy from 1951. Presumably aiming for the some of the same audience as the highly successful Ealing films it lacks the wit and sophistication of those classics but does poke fun at hypocrisy and inequality and is slyly subversive, championing rule by the common people and the rights of the individual.
Little Laycock is a small village in Essex (actually Thaxted), a picturesque, sleepy place ruled by a manipulative and self-serving Town Council who have been in power for over twenty years. The recent addition of a large factory has led to further prosperity and an employment rate of 99.99%, which has attracted the attention of The Ministry Of Industrial Co-Ordination, who have decided that the Prime Minister should visit the village to congratulate them on their contribution to the economy.
The only diptera in the unguent is the 00.01% unemployed of the village, an idle, scruffy, crafty, hairy Irishman (is there any other type?) called Dan Dance.
Never quite as funny as it might be, ‘Time Gentlemen, Please’ is nevertheless an amusing hour and a quarter that evokes a time when a homeless, jobless man was seen as a character, a non-comformist, an individualist going against the flow, not just some sinister scumbag. It also raises some interesting parallels with ‘social cleansing’ stories from not so long ago, including the allegation that Newham Council were kindly offering their poorest residents an opportunity to move to Stoke, or that Fulham and Broadway Council could potentially house the homeless a little ‘outside’ of the Fulham and Broadway area, i.e. Nottingham.
Incidentally, 'Time Gentlemen, Please!' was a Group 3 production, a state backed studio headed up my documentary genius John Grierson. It's remit was to provide low budget b-pictures as a training ground for new British film talent. Sadly, the studio failed to do very much at all for British film apart from giving Joan Collins her first role, a wonderful thing, I'm sure you'll agree.