MR. DRAKE’S DUCK (1951)
Article 1919 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-16-2006
Posting Date: 11-13-2006
Directed by Val Guest
Featuring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Yolande Donlan, Jon Pertwee
A newlywed bride inadvertently buys a shipment of ducks at a local auction. She then discovers that one of the ducks lays eggs containing uranium, which brings in the military.
I’m mostly familiar with Val Guest as being the director of several excellent science fiction movies (in particular, the first two Quatermass movies), but it appears that he had a long career as a director and writer of comedies. I’m not quite as impressed with his work in this regard, though I do like this one a little better than I do the other one I’ve seen of his, LIFE IS A CIRCUS . The science fiction angle of the story is obvious (a duck has developed a method of laying uranium eggs in lead-lined shells), but the movie never really explores the whys and wherefores of this situation and instead concentrates on how the appearance of the military creates upheaval in their lives. Of course, the orignal British version of the movie might have more information; the U.S. print of the movie is short by ten minutes. It’s only sporadically amusing, but it does have a great cast of character actors; in particular, it’s fun to see a pre-Doctor Who Jon Pertwee as the cranky farmhand. The name of the main character is Donald Drake, and I wasn’t surprised that at least one joke comes up about the name. On a side note, I couldn’t help but be reminded a little bit of “Green Acres”, since that’s the name of the farm, and Yolande Donlan does bear a certain resemblance to Eva Gabor.