School for Scoundrels 1960 ***

While fairly tame even for 1960, School for Scoundrels is an interesting time-capsule that reveals quite a bit about British comedy and Britain before the swinging sixties got into full swing. Ian Carmichael plays Henry Palfrey, a decent chap who finishes last; Terry Thomas is ideal as Raymond Delaunay, the kind of bounder who always finishes first. Our hero attempts to learn the tricks of the trade by enrolling in the College of Lifemanship, where Alastair Sim is on hand to deal out lessons.  The contest between the men is on strictly misogynist lines; having the best car, winning at tennis and getting clothes off girls (namely Janet Scott) are the main objectives, and aside from a late and decidedly half-hearted climb-down, there’s no real analysis of whether cheating is acceptable or not. All the players are excellent, and Dennis Price has a great bit as a car salesman; if you can look past the cursory treatment of women, there’s a revealing picture of just how square a self-centred male culture could be.


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