Up the Front

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Up the Front
"Up The Front" (1972).jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Bob Kellett
Produced by Terry Glinwood
Ned Sherrin
Beryl Vertue
Written by Sid Colin
Eddie Braben
Starring Frankie Howerd
Bill Fraser
Hermione Baddeley
Music by Peter Greenwell
Cinematography Tony Spratling
Edited by Al Gell
Distributed by Anglo-EMI
Release date
July 1972 UK
Running time
89 min
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Up the Front is a 1972 British comedy film. It is the third film spin-off from the TV series Up Pompeii! (the previous film being Up the Chastity Belt set in the Middle Ages which followed on from the Up Pompeii film), directed by Bob Kellett, it stars Frankie Howerd as Lurk (a descendant of the slave Lurcio in Up Pompeii), a coward who is hypnotised into bravery.


Set during World War I, Lurk, a lowly servant in the household of Lord and Lady Twithampton (William Mervyn & Linda Gray), is hypnotised by The Great Vincento (Stanley Holloway) and travels to the Western Front to 'save England'. Lurk is inspired to bravery, and upon receiving the German master plan for the entire war, which has through an unlikely series of events been tattooed onto his posterior, is pursued across France by German intelligence. After breaking into the British military headquarters to deliver the plans into the hands of General Burke (Robert Coote), he is confronted by the sensuous German spy Mata Hari (Zsa Zsa Gabor). After foiling Mata Hari's scheme to relieve him of the plan, a hilarious scene develops in which he is pursued by the nefarious Von Gutz (Lance Percival) and his henchmen Donner and Blitzen (Gertan Klauber and Stanley Lebor). Accompanied by the Can-Can, performed by the Famous Buttercup Girls, Lurk is pursued around the Allied headquarters. Finally, disguised as a tree, he is able to present the plans to General Burke, to the famous line:

General Burke: "Lurk, bend down."
Lurk: "I thought you'd never ask!"

Having successfully delivered the plans into the hands of British intelligence, Lurk receives a medal of honour and a promotion. He is therefore able to win the love of his beloved Fanny (Madeline Smith) and defeat the machinations of the wicked Sgt. Major Groping (Bill Fraser).

Bob Hoskins' brief appearance in the film, in the role of a recruiting sergeant, represents the actor's big screen debut.


Critical reception[edit]

The New York Times wrote, "the laughs come fast and furious when Howerd finds himself the recipient of the enemy's war plans--tattooed on his tush."[1] While TV Guide called the film "Inane nonsense."[2]


  1. ^ "Up-the-Front - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  2. ^ "Up The Front Review". Movies.tvguide.com. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 

External links[edit]