Cast & Crew
At the Collins Music Hall in London, members of the "Mad Morgans" family vaudeville act, Davy Morgan, his uncle Pat, sister Gwen, her husband George and friend Eric, learn that the city's biggest talent agent has arranged to give them an audition. Although Uncle Pat questions whether the audition is for the whole act or just its star soloist, Davy, George insists the entire family will perform. As the Morgans prepare for their first show of the day, Davy startles the others with his reluctant revelation that between sets that day he has a private audition with conductor Sir Giles Manning at the Covent Garden Opera House. Upon learning that Eric knew of Davy's try-out in advance, George, long insecure about his outsider role in the family, lashes out angrily, accusing Davy of making a fool of them. Despite the rising tensions, the family then proceeds with their performance, but upon returning to the dressing room, George bitterly accuses Davy of betrayal. Davy explains that Eric knew of his audition only because he happened to be with him when he received the offer. Davy admits that he has discussed the future of the act with Eric and believes that the Mad Morgans must continue, with or without him. Davy then assures George that should nothing come of the audition, he will not accept another, but insists on keeping his appointment with Sir Giles. George remains suspicious and resentful, forcing Gwen to try to prevent Davy's departure for the audition. Gwen tells Davy that the act will crumble without him and admits that George's pride and frustration over his lack of personal success will provoke him to walk out on her, their young son Tim and the act. Although sympathetic, Davy insists upon attending the audition and offers to take Tim along to get him away from the quarrelsome atmosphere. After Davy and Tim depart, Eric describes to Gwen and George how two months earlier he and Davy had roomed in a hotel next door to music aficionado Sir Charles Conroy, who overheard Davy singing in the bath and offered to arrange the audition with Sir Giles. Although Gwen is impressed, George scoffs, insisting that Davy will only embarrass himself. Saddened by Davy's departure, Uncle Pat begins drinking, disappointed that his nephew would consider deserting the family act. At Covent Garden, Davy and Tim wait in the canteen with singer Joanna Reeves, who is also auditioning for Sir Giles. Although Joanna marvels that he must have a rare natural talent to attract Sir Giles' attention, Davy begins to doubt whether he belongs in the formal world of opera. After Sir Giles and the company complete a full dress rehearsal of a portion of Wagner's The Mastersingers of Nuremberg , Joanna and Davy are invited onstage. Davy asks Tim to wait for him in the canteen where he can hear the singing over a loudspeaker. Joanna performs a selection by Mozart, impressing Davy and the brisk, demanding Sir Giles. Davy nervously fluffs the start of his solo and must begin again before settling into a strong rendition of Puccini's "Nessen Dorma." Eager to watch his uncle, Tim leaves the canteen and wanders backstage, then climbs atop scaffolding overlooking the stage. As Davy reaches the climax of the piece, Tim unintentionally knocks over a large freestanding piece of the opera set and nearly falls before being rescued by Davy. Overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, Davy takes Tim and flees the opera house without speaking to Sir Giles or Joanna again. Back at the Collins, the Morgans wonder about Davy's audition. Uncle Pat continues drinking, recalling that his brother, Davy's father, gave up the opportunity to perform Shakespeare rather than break up the act. George worries that Davy will be a success and begins packing, declaring that he will not work under Eric. When Gwen protests, George abruptly accuses her of having an affair with Eric behind his back. Eric interrupts the argument to declare that while he has always cared for Gwen, he only wants her happiness and knows that she loves George. Davy returns to find a drunken Uncle Pat riding one of the other acts' unicycles and forces him down to sober up before their next set. When Davy refuses to comment about the audition, George asks Tim about it and the boy says he believes Sir Giles might have been angry about what happened. Convinced that Davy's audition was a flop, George derides him until Davy lashes out and attacks George. The brief scuffle is broken up by an announcement that Sir Giles has arrived and wishes to speak with Davy alone. Sir Giles, accompanied by Joanna, meets with Davy and reveals that Joanna pressured him to come. Sir Giles then admits that Davy's abilities are genuine and offers him a spot with the opera company where he would receive training and guidance to shape his career. Pleased and relieved to have his talent confirmed, Davy nevertheless refuses the offer, explaining that his family depends on him and he cannot let them down. Although disappointed, Sir Giles accepts Davy's reply, saying he admires him for doing what he thinks right. Hoping to continue her acquaintance with Davy, Joanna lingers behind after Sir Giles departs, but the comedian points out that they are from two different worlds and she reluctantly bids him farewell. Back in the dressing room, George admits he was wrong about Davy and offers him a sincere apology. Telling Tim that they must all stick together, Davy joins the other Mad Morgans as they prepare to go onstage.
Lorenzo Da Ponte
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
For Secombe, Davy was an attempt to launch a solo career. He was, at the time, already a popular radio personality on The Goon Show, where his co-stars included the comedic likes of Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. Secombe got his start in comedy during WWII - when he performed in troop concerts and met up with like-humored Spike Milligan. After the war, Secombe and Milligan teamed up with Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine at The Grafton Arms pub to improvise scripts. These comedy sketches soon evolved into a radio show. The Goon Show, which was originally called Crazy People, ran from 1951 until 1960 and has been said to have "changed the face of British comedy." It certainly turned out a generation of British comedians.
While the radio show was going strong, "The Goons" released several movies: Penny Points to Paradise (1951), Down Among the Z Men (1952). Secombe also had his own TV show, The Harry Secombe Show, in 1955. But Davy was his first big screen attempt to go it alone and the movie was only a moderate success. After Davy, Secombe continued to work mostly on stage and TV. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 1966 as Best Actor in a Musical for Pickwick. Secombe also made the occasional movie - his most memorable film role was probably in 1968's Academy Award winning Oliver!. But no matter what his later work, Secombe was always beloved for his Goon years and was knighted in 1981. He died on April 11, 2001.
Also worth noting in Davy: Peter Frampton, who plays young Tim and whose father Harry did Makeup for many years at Ealing, would eventually follow in his father's profession. He worked as an assistant to his father on several films, including Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972) and the two also worked together on Victor/Victoria (1982). In 1995, Peter Frampton won the Oscar® for Best Makeup for his work on Braveheart. Despite his behind-the-scenes success, Frampton recalled his time in front of the camera on Davy fondly, especially since "it meant time off school and [getting the] star treatment."
Davy also signaled the end of an era. After a nearly twenty year run, Ealing studios would release just three more films: Dunkirk (1958), Nowhere to Go (1958), and The Siege of Pinchgut (1959). And for the studio known for such hilarious gems as Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and The Ladykillers (1955), Davy would be its last comedy.
Producer: Basil Dearden
Director: Michael Relph
Screenplay: William Rose
Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe
Film Editing: Peter Tanner
Art Direction: Alan Withy
Cast: Harry Secombe (Davy Morgan), Alexander Knox (Sir Giles Manning), Ron Randell (George), George Relph (Uncle Pat Morgan), Susan Shaw (Gwen), Bill Owen (Eric).
by Stephanie Thames
The opening and closing credits differ slightly in order. The opening cast credits also list the "Principals and Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden." The film was shot on location in London at both Collins Music Hall and Covent Garden Opera House and marked the only feature film appearance by opera singer Adele Leigh.
Davy marked the first starring film for Sir Harry Secombe (1921-2001), a much beloved entertainer in Britain. Secombe launched his career in radio and television after serving and entertaining troops in World War II and starred in the popular radio program The Goon Show. During the show's acclaimed nine-year run, several films were made starring Secombe and his The Goon Show co-stars, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine. Davy was intended to launch Secombe as a solo artist, but the film had only limited success. Secombe continued working on stage and in television, appearing regularly at the London Palladium, and occasionally returned to film, including the 1968 Columbia Pictures release Oliver! (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70). Secombe, also known for his long involvement in charity work, was knighted in 1981.