Clockwise Comedy Now if think about it for a moment or two, the concept of time is a very illusive commodity to hold on to. One minute a minute is here. And the next minute the exact same minute has been and gone. Still, what can you do about it, huh? Make a film perhaps? Like this one Directed by Christopher Morahan; and Starring: John Cleese, Penelope Wilton, and Alison Steadman? It came forth in 1986, and lasted for a whole 96-minute's.


Oh dear! You've got to feel sorry for poor middle-aged Brian Stimpson (John Cleese). All this punctual headmaster wanted to do, was to get to Norwich on time, so that he could represent his school as the new chairman of the Headmasters Association.

But still, do you honestly think he could carry out this simple task without any fuss or bother? Ha! No. Not likely. 

For a start, Mister Stimpson misses the train he was supposed to catch, just after his wife, Gwenda (Alison Steadman), drops him off at the station. Then, by chance, he cajoles one of his senior pupils, Laura (Sharon Maiden), to drive him to this event: only to find out that she hasn't got a licence to drive the vehicle she's perusing around in. Plus finally, by Capri of fate, Mister Stimpson bumps into one of his old school friends, Pat (Penelope Wilton), who he also cajoles to take him to this event: until their car suddenly gets stuck in the middle of nowhere. 

Ouch! Now doesn't all of that sound's pretty bad within the scheme of things, dear reader? However, is it worse than when Mister Stimpson wife spots him in transit, and presumes that he's having an affair with Laura? Or what about when Laura's parent's hears that their daughter has gone missing, prompting them to call the police post-haste? Plus let's not forget about Mr. Jolly's (Stephen Moore) role in all of this, huh? Whatever that might be.

Well, that's most probably why what next transpires makes a big splash when Mister Stimpson goes to a monetary and has a bath. As life is a bitch - plans involve a hitch - conferences omit a load of noise - and strangely enough, the Headmasters Association somehow transforms into a rabble of naughty school boys.

Class dismissed.

Now before I tell you what I thought about this great British comedy -- 'Clockwise' -- please allow me to spill some trivia on you first. (1) Apart from this movie and the 1969 drama -- 'Diamonds For Breakfast' -- everything else that the director, Christopher Morahan, has directed, has been for television. (2) Upon closer inspection there is one slight 'plot gaff' where the overall narrative is concerned. There is no 'University of Norwich' in Norwich, only a 'University of East Anglia' instead. But then again most of the urban scenes were shot in the West Midlands and Humberside, plus the rural scenes were shot in Shropshire too. So c'est la vie!  (3) John Cleese drove a very similar car in this film as he did in his sitcom 'Fawlty Towers' -- a BMC 1100s. The only difference though is that this one was painted blue and a saloon, where as the 'Fawlty' car was a small-estate and red. (4) John devised 'A Fish Called Wanda' [click on link for review], because he thought this movie was 'too British' for the yanks; presuming that this was one of main reasons why it wasn't a hit over there. (5) Not only was Brian Stimpson the name of John's character in this comedy, but coincidentally it was also the name of the doctor who examined at his knee when he damaged it whilst making this film. (6) For his performance in this movie, John Cleese won the 'Peter Sellers Award For Comedy' at the 1987 'Evening Standard British Film Awards'. (7) The screenwriter, Michael Frayn, based the character of Brian Stimpson on the headmaster of his daughter's school -- Peter Dawson -- who was the head of Eltham Green Comprehensive, South East London. Also, on a side note, Michael also penned one of my most favorite farces too -- 'Noises Off'.  (8) All of the events that took place during this adventure happened on Wednesday the 15th of May, 1985 -- the same date that Mexico and South Korea celebrates 'Teacher's Day'. (9) Stimpson's school was named after Thomas Tompion: who was a famous 17th / 18th century English clockmaker, noted for his erstwhile works.

John in Clockwise

Alright. That's enough of that me thinks. So what do I think about 'Clockwise', huh? Is it a Basil Fawlty? Or is it just faulty?

Well, on a certain level I suppose its' both of these things really. Some of the 'coincidental' and 'repetitive' scenarios are a bit too much at times -- like the 'right / left gag' or the 'bumping into or missing someone by accident ploy'. Apart from that though -- no -- this movie is just great in my eyes.

I personally like it for its farcical nature; mainly relating to how people have a tendency of getting themselves 'into a bit of pickle' when least expected. Moreover, I also like to think of it as a very British version of 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' [click on link for review], just without the 'buddy-buddy' element thrown into the mix.

Clockwise Movie

Come on! Let's face it. This film is very British. I remember talking to my American mate, Dan, about this comedy once; where he said that he didn't understand the whole 'public school system', or why John Cleese's character was always so preoccupied with one thing, whilst he was supposed to be doing something else. Also, I'd never forget those comments he made about 'the old lady's and tea'. 'Why in God name are middle aged women looking after old ladies for?' he said. Before stating 'Plus what's that business with them drinking tea at the end of this flick, huh?'. So what was my reply to Dan's quandary? I told him to 'Shut the f*ck up', informing him that he should 'bomb a small country' and forget about it.

Missing The Train in Clockwise

Ha! A very John Cleese type thing to say, right?  Well, he and this film are as one you know. English by default. Uptight one minute. Preoccupied the next. Repetitive and silly at times. But overall, a farcical and clumsy entity which has its place in both history and pathos. Don't you a greed, Monty Python silly sketch?       

No comment. I'm biased.


CLOCKWISE CLOCKWISE Reviewed by David Andrews on February 06, 2013 Rating: 5
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