Jacqueline Hill as Sandy Lavery in The Comedy Man (1963)

Gossip-packed and blisteringly insightful post below the clips.

Scandal behind the scenes

The more I read about this film, the more it seems like you need to understand the context in which it was made to have any hope of "getting" it. So, a bit of background: the actor Kenneth More (already famous for playing Douglas Bader in Reach for the Sky) met the actress Angela Douglas (later famous for her work in several Carry On films; Doctor Who fans may also know her as Doris Lethbridge-Stewart) in the early 1960s. More was 26 years older than Douglas, and liked to call her "Shrimp". They began an affair, and in 1962 he left his wife so that they could live together (later on they would marry, but not until 1968; I think possibly because it took that long to sort out his divorce).

More's career really suffered as a result; apparently, the work just dried up. Joan Le Mesurier, in this rather jaw-dropping Daily Telegraph article about her own affair with Tony Hancock at around the same time, describes More as having been "ostracized". Clearly, if Le Mesurier's anecdotes are any guide, everyone was sleeping with and/or domestically abusing everyone else in the world of British film at around this time, so I suppose the difference in More's case must have been that his marriage actually broke down as a result. I don't know the details; it's likely there are nuances I'm missing.

Anyway, it was against this backdrop of disapproval that More and Douglas appeared together in the 1964 film The Comedy Man, adapted from a novel by Douglas Hayes and directed by Jacqueline Hill's husband, Alvin Rakoff. More plays Chick, a punchable anti-hero of an actor whose career is on the skids after an ill-judged affair with a producer’s wife, and who struggles to find work, and eventually hooks up with a much younger woman – played by Douglas – who he likes to call “Shrimp”.