Touch and Go (1955 film)

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Touch and Go
Touch and Go UK release poster
Directed by Michael Truman
Written by William Rose
Tania Rose
Produced by Michael Balcon
Starring Jack Hawkins
Margaret Johnston
June Thorburn
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Edited by Peter Tanner
Music by John Addison
Distributed by J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors
Release date
  • 3 October 1955 (1955-10-03)(London)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Touch and Go (U.S. The Light Touch) is a 1955 British comedy film directed by Michael Truman, and starring Jack Hawkins, Margaret Johnston, and June Thorburn. [1]



Following an argument with a work superior, furniture designer Jim Fletcher quits his job in a fit of pique. He decides that England has nothing to offer him, and that the future for his family is in Australia. He eagerly sets about making emigration plans, and, despite the fact that his wife and family are less than enthusiastic about moving to the other side of the world, he disregards their reservations and presses ahead.

Practical and bureaucratic hitches continually threaten to derail the project. Jim must also deal with the opposition of his in-laws, finds himself missing his job, and starts to have doubts himself about the wisdom of the move. However, the snags and pitfalls are finally sorted out, and a firm departure date is set. Then, two days before they are due to leave, the Fletchers' daughter meets and instantly falls in love with her ideal man, after he rescues the family cat, Heathcliff. A good deal of heart-searching ensues before the Fletchers decide whether or not to go ahead with emigration during a delay caused by a missing Heathcliff.



The film was made by Ealing Studios. [2]


Box Office

The film was indifferently received on release, and is not generally included in the canon of classic Ealing Comedies. [3] According to Kinematograph Weekly it was a "money maker" at the British box office in 1955. [4]

Critical reception

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "Although Touch and Go does not match the invention or wit of William Rose's earlier scripts ( Genevieve , The Maggie , etc.), the writer's flair for creating likeable characters is again apparent, and there is an agreeable touch of malicious humour in the handling of such characters as the father and mother-in-law. Unfortunately it is quite obvious, almost from the outset, that this particular family will never reach Australia (young lovers are rarely parted and animals never neglected in the British cinema), and this fact makes for a rather dead climax. Michael Truman (directing his first film) employs a gentle, unhurried style in keeping with the mood of the piece, but does not succeed in disguising the thinness of the material itself; and the young lovers suffer from the distressing coyness invariably associated with members of English screen and radio families. Jack Hawkins as the harassed father sometimes employs an over-emphatic technique, but his playing generally displays a pleasant comic sense. Margaret Johnston, in the under-written part of his wife, suffers nobly and wins through in the end. Altogether, a slight and insubstantial film, which, nevertheless, evokes a gentle and amiable mood." [5]

The Radio Times called the film "A depressing wallow in the sort of whimsy that Ealing foisted upon the world as British Realism." [2] Leonard Maltin was more positive, calling the film a "wry study". [6]


The film picked up two nominations at the 1956 British Academy Film Awards: Margaret Johnston for "Best British Actress", and William Rose for "Best British Screenplay." [7]

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  1. "Touch and Go". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  2. 1 2 "Touch and Go". RadioTimes.
  3. Winnert, Derek (4 August 2015). "Touch and Go ** (1955, Jack Hawkins, Margaret Johnston, June Thorburn, John Fraser, Roland Culver, Alison Leggatt, James Hayter)".
  4. "Other Money Makers of 1955". Kinematograph Weekly. 15 December 1955. p. 5.
  5. "Touch and Go". The Monthly Film Bulletin . 22 (252): 166. 1 January 1955 via ProQuest.
  6. "Touch and Go". TCM.
  7. "British Film Academy awards and nominations for 1955" . Retrieved 24 July 2010.