Amazon Review

Ask a Policeman
is arguably Will Hay's all-round best film, not so much for the qualities of his familiar star performance but for the mix of laughs and thrills in the manner of The Ghost Train or The Cat and the Canary. Hay plays Sgt Doubtfoot, commander of the police station in the coastal hamlet of Turnbotham Round, who hasn't made an arrest in 10 years. This is not because of the area's low crime rate, but because most of the poaching, pilfering and swindling in the village is the responsibility of his own constables, the geriatric Harbottle (Moore Marriott) and literal wide-boy Albert (Graham Moffatt)



When the Chief Constable threatens to close the station, the bumbling coppers set out to investigate some crimes and go after a smuggling squire who has been using a local legend as a cover story (and planting his signal light on top of the police station itself). Director Marcel Varnel, working from a script by Sidney Gilliatt and Val Guest, manage some fine semi-horror business with "the 'earse of the 'headless 'orseman", a flaming carriage which dashes about the landscape, and a risky venture into Devil's Cave to find the old smuggler's route that turns out to lead to the cellar of Harbottle's general stores. Hay and his sidekicks are in top form, squabbling surreally over every possible filched coin from the police outing fund box or trying to sort out the plot, and there's a sublime scene as they try to get a clue out of the impossibly ancient Harbottle's even more elderly Dad (also Marriott).

--Kim Newman