WINNER: TOP 25 LIBERTARIAN FILMS
An old woman’s refusal to pay for a dog license sets in motion a chain of events that humbles her local government. [Dir: Victor Saville, Ian Dalrymple/ Vivien Leigh, Rex Harrison, Cecil Parker/ 87 min/ Comedy/ Britain/ Free Press as Hero, Bureaucratic Abuse of Power–Excessive Force]
“Oppression is never small.” So says the heroic reporter at the center of this story as he exposes an authoritarian town mayor for condemning to death an unlicensed dog. The film doesn’t argue against licensing as such but just the heartless application of law without regard to the situation.
At the center of this story is a poor old woman and her mongrel dog. The old woman refused to pay for a dog license, and so has been fined five pounds. However, she can’t pay the fine. So the town mayor, a law-and-order man in the midst of a campaign for higher office, orders that the dog be seized and executed. All the old woman’s pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears.
Enter the hero, a principled reporter with a sharp pen. He has just been hired by the local paper to do a flattering story on the mayor. Instead, he uses this opportunity to publicly attack the mayor for his cruel behavior. The article incites a local political rebellion, and further actions by the reporter undermine the mayor’s chances for higher office. Furious at this unwinding of his political prospects, the mayor has the reporter arrested and tried on a vague offense. It all ends in a hilarious climactic trial.
What an enjoyable film! The script, based on a stage play, is tremendously witty, the acting talent (including a young Vivien Leigh) is some of the finest of its time, and the direction makes the most of both. For fans of British humor in particular, this is a real gem.
How to See It
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