You Must Be Joking! (1965 film)

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You Must Be Joking!
"You Must Be Joking" (1965).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Winner
Screenplay by Alan Hackney
Jan Read
from a story by Michael Winner
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Starring Michael Callan
Lionel Jeffries
Denholm Elliott
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Bernard Gribble
Music by Laurie Johnson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures Corporation (UK)
Release date
3 August 1965 (London)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

You Must Be Joking! is a 1965 black and white British comedy film directed by Michael Winner and starring Michael Callan, Lionel Jeffries, and Denholm Elliott. [1]


The format of the film, four people each doing six tasks linked to a scavenger hunt, allows for 24 otherwise somewhat unconnected comedy vignettes, which jointly create the story line. The items (purportedly representing British identity) include flying ducks for the wall, an English rose, the Spirit of Ecstasy from a Rolls-Royce car, an electric hare from a greyhound race and the Lutine Bell.


Major Foskett, a British Army psychologist, assembles four soldiers for a testing task: Sergeant Major McGregor (complete with kilt and bearskin), Captain Tabasco, Sergeant Clegg (a father of nine), Staff Sergeant Mansfield and United States Air Force Lieutenant Morton. They have their initiative tested in a scavenger hunt.

Their first task is to escape a maze. Tabasco orders up a helicopter to take him out and two others take a ride, but Clegg is left in the maze.

They are instructed to obtain six items, supposedly symbols of the British way of life. The reward for the winner is to be fast-tracked for promotion and a ten-day, all-expenses-paid trip around the world for two. Among the feats to be accomplished within 48 hours are escaping from a maze, retrieving a rare rose and the mascot from a Rolls-Royce motorcar, and procurement of a lock of hair and an autograph from a popular French singer. The final challenge involves the famous Lutine bell from the Underwriting Room of Lloyd's of London. [2] [3] MacGregor arrives at the finish line by parachute, Tabasco comes in an ambulance, Clegg digs his way in from below. Morton arrives last (by car), but is declared the winner and resigns.

General Lockwood is arrested for misuse of the requisition system. Foskett is arrested for conspiracy to steal the Lutine Bell.



The film was based on an original story by Michael Winner which was inspired by a real army initiative test where soldiers were asked to get as far away as possible from their camp at Catterick. He hired Alan Hackney, who had written several Boulting Brothers screenplays, to write the script. [4]

While looking for finance, Winner was approached to make a film with the Dave Clark Five, but Winner did not like the idea. Charles H. Schneer liked the Hackney script and agreed to make it under a deal he had with Columbia and Winner says he suggested John Boorman take over the Dave Clark movie. Winner said Columbia insisted that Michael Callan play a lead role. Winner called the actor "a nice fellow who didn't sell the film in America and didn't help it in England either." [5]

Winner hired a cameraman who felt they could not film in the locations that had been chosen, so Winner replaced him with Geoff Unsworth. Johnny Speight did some uncredited writing on the film. [6]


Winner says the film received good reviews but was not popular at the box office. [7]

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  1. YOU MUST BE JOKING! Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 32, Iss. 372, (Jan 1, 1965): 140.
  2. "You Must Be Joking! | BFI | BFI". Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  3. 1 2 "You Must Be Joking! Review". Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  4. Winner loc 1562 of 5856
  5. Winner loc 1567 of 5856
  6. Winner loc 1573 of 5856
  7. Winner loc 1609 of 5856
  8. Hal Erickson (2014). "You-Must-Be-Joking- – Trailer – Cast – Showtimes". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.

Winner, Michael (2004). Winner Take All: A life of Sorts (Kindle ed.).