Bell-Bottom George

Bell-Bottom George is a 1943 black and white British comedy musical film, directed by Marcel Varnel, starring George Formby and Anne Firth.[1] A wartime morale buster, it features the songs, "Swim Little Fish", "It Serves You Right", "If I Had A Girl Like You" and "Bell Bottom George." Future Carry On star Charles Hawtrey appears in a small role.

Bell-Bottom George
"Bell-Bottom George" (1943).jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed byMarcel Varnel
Produced byMarcel Varnel
Written byEdward Dryhurst
Peter Fraser
John L. Arthur
Richard Fisher
Peter Creswell
StarringGeorge Formby
Anne Firth
Reginald Purdell
Music byHarry Bidgood
CinematographyBasil Emmott
Roy Fogwell
Edited byMax Brenner
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
7 February 1944
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film title derives from the Bell bottom trousers which form part of the Royal Navy uniform.


Anti-British agents plan an attack on a Royal Navy ship.

Jim Bennett is a sailor who has overstayed his shore leave. He explains he was a boxer and if hit in one side he sleeps for 24 hours but if hit on the other he wakes.

Meanwhile George Blake (Formby) serves drinks to officers in a gentlemen's club. They chastise him for his poor service and say he should join the Navy. George retires to his room in the club where he chats to his goldfish Egbert.

During an air raid George is out with Jim and for various reasons is wearing his uniform. Jim gets knocked out and is trying to "revive" him by hitting him on the other side. The military police spot him and think he is both attacking Jim and that he is absent without leave. From then he is mistaken for the absent Jim. He has borrowed his to go to a Lock-in at a pub. George is spotted by military police who think he is AWOL and escort him back to Naval barracks.

He impresses the sailors there with his song "It Serves You Right - You Shouldn't Have Joined" whilst playing ukulele, and is chosen to play at the "Spick and Span" troop radio concert in London. He meets Pat, a Wren, here, and they start to fall in love. He takes her to a dance and sings "If I Had a Girl Like You" to her.

In the same period, he stumbles on the aforementioned pair of Nazi spies using a taxidermists shop as a front, and foils their plot to blow up a British submarine, "The Firefly". He also impresses and wins the heart of Pat (Anne Firth), the Wren he has fallen for.[2][3][2]

When the real Bennett fully recovers in hospital ne panics that he is absent without leave and runs into the two military police who have been harrasing the false Bennett. George passes and they give chase. He meets Pat in a car and they think they have escaped, but the group chasing them flag down a police car. They drive to harbour and steal a small launch but the others also steal a boat and the chase contines until Georges boat is wrecked.

Sample gagEdit

George is reduced to his underwear by the bad guys and complains he cannot walk around the streets like that as he would be mistaken for Gandhi.[4]


Box office and receptionEdit

According to trade papers, the film was a success at the British box office in 1944.[5]

Halliwell's Film Guide called it a "formula star comedy, too long and too familiar".[6] TV Guide commented: "an overlong launching for an unseaworthy production";[7] while in the opinion of The Spinning Image "there are a few laughs to be had."[4]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Bell-bottom George | BFI | BFI". Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Bell Bottom George". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Bell-bottom George [DVD] [1944]: Anne Firth, George Formby, Reginald Purdell, Peter Murray Hill, Marcel Varnel: Film & TV". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Bell Bottom George Review (1944)". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  5. ^ Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p. 207
  6. ^ Halliwell's Film, Video & DVD Guide. HarperPerennial. 2008. ISBN 978-0-00-726080-5.
  7. ^ "Bell-Bottom George Review". Retrieved 23 February 2014.