This much forgotten gem of a film concerns Hemel Pike (Harry H Corbett) who is a canal barge owner and worker and a bit of a casanova ito the bargain! Aided and abetted by his rather slow cousin Ronnie (Ronnie Barker), Hemel has a girl in every port up and down his route along the Grand Union Canal. His problem is that every single one of them is intent on marriage, something he is sworn to avoid. Unfortunately for Hemel, one of his ladies, Christine Turnbull (Julia Foster) falls pregnant and he is finally trapped into marrying her by her over-bearing and very protective father (the always brilliant Hugh Griffith). Not a man to be argued with, (Joe Turnbull is legendary for holding the canal drinking record of 29 pints of mild and brown in a single session), he insists that Hemel does the right thing by his daughter - which only serves to upset all his other conquests!
Galton and Simpson (Corbett's writers from Steptoe & Son) wrote a strong script cleverly combining comedy and drama which allowed Corbett to shine as the obvious star of the film (many agree this is his best film role) and whilst this is undoubtedly his vehicle, there is an extremely strong supporting cast of a plethora of British character actors, in particular Eric Sykes as the totally incompetant mariner and Ronnie Barker as Hemel's cousin who certainly gives Corbett a run for his money with every scene they share together and shows the early signs of the stardom that was to soon follow. Nice cameos from Brian Wilde and Richard Briers too.
The film is beautifully made and benefits greatly from being shot in Technicolor, giving the already nostalgic locations a dream-like veneer. The boats seen in the film are all genuine working barges, filmed with added poigniancy when you remember that the industry was finally killed-off by the extremely harsh winter the year this film was made. Give it a go - perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon - and enjoy being taken back to an altogether different age in this pleasing and gently amusing tongue-in-cheek tribute to those who plied their trade up and down Britian's canals. They certainly don't make them like this any more.