A hoard of lost films featuring the earliest cinematic appearances of some of the UK’s most famous comedians has been discovered after gathering dust in a garage for over 50 years.
The incredible collection – which comprises of more than 30 movies dating from the early 1950s – stars the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Sid James, Ronnie Corbett, Thora Hird and Prunella Scales.
Unearthed films include The Goons’ stars Sellers, Milligan and Harry Secombe in their first big screen production, Penny Points to Paradise, released in 1951 – the same year in which their famously anarchic BBC radio show began. Another Sellers and Milligan film, Let’s Go Crazy, was also in the cache.
The movies were all either made or distributed by Adelphi, a family-run company set up in 1939 by Arthur Dent, a one time British representative of Hollywood mogul Sam Goldwyn.
His company ceased producing films after 1956 but Dent stored negatives and prints in his garage in Highgate, north London, where they were forgotten about until his granddaughter, Kate Lees, recently stumbled upon them.
The treasure trove – which also includes The Great Game, a football-themed comedy featuring Thora Hird and Diana Dors; boy’s boarding school farce Fun At St Fanny’s, starring Ronnie Corbett; and What Every Woman Wants, a drama with Brian Rix and Joan Hickson – has been described as “a snapshot of a particularly prolific period of British film-making,” by Lees, speaking to The Sunday Times.
She has now handed over to the British Film Institute (BFI) for restoration.
Penny Points to Paradise and Let’s Go Crazy are set to be screened at the BFI’s cinema on London’s South Bank in July, before being released on DVD, with more releases expected to follow, funds-permitting.
Wiped hopes to bring you more information soon.