Review: “Otley” Offers Old School Titillation

Otley is a film featuring an abundance of misadventures and is worth a watch if you like 60s British cinema.

OtleyOtley is filled with 1960s charm throughout and offers a look into the life of a working class man who is down on luck, so much so that he finds himself tangled in the midst of a murder with the British Secret Service on his tail.

The spy plot is enticing and overall the film is pleasant, but pleasant is about as far as it goes in terms of cinematic credit. Sadly, Otley fails to be a classic despite the clever narrative. Tom Courtney’s (Otley) performance is fantastic and worthy of every praise, he reminds me of Albert Finney in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; hilarious, likeable, and genuine. Despite both films being distinctly British and certainly distinctly 60s, Otley for some reason just didn’t have the same impact or grip as some other films from the decade.

There are some fantastic one liners from Courtney and at many points I found myself laughing along with the timeless old school comedy. Otley is a film for a lazy Sunday afternoon, one that is an easy watch and a cheerful time passer that is sure to make you smile, even if it’s not one that will keep your brain thinking long after the credits. Maybe Otley just hasn’t aged as well as some of the 60s biggest and best, but it is a nice insight into a culture that once was and Courtney couldn’t have played a better part!

The driving test scene is one that stands out as a true testimony to sixties comedy, where Otley has had “just about enough of this nonsense” and takes the rules of his test into his own hands. It’s humour for all ages that really does offer a light mood and amusing couple of hours, but there’s just something that stops it going beyond that.


The story is there, the acting is there, the swinging 60s in all its glory is there and as a film of its time Otley is sure to be one that fans of British film during the deacade will enjoy. Perhaps I just expected more from it, although I can’t quite put my finger on what that is. The dry humour certainly has a go at making up for anything the film is lacking, as does the music (Stanley Myers) and the clever gritty cinematography (Austin Dempster).

Otley is a film featuring an abundance of misadventures and is worth a watch if you like 60s cinema. If you’re wanting a film from the past to pass a few hours and have a little laugh with, then this is an effortless choice that will leave you feeling cheerful, but if you want a film that has you thinking this could end up disappointing.

otley, three stars, Top 10 Films

Written by Leah Jade Wimpenny

OtleyDirected by: Dick Clement
Written by: Ian La Frenais, Dick Clement
Starring: Tom Courtenay, Romy Schneider
Released: 1969 / Genre: Comedy/Thriller
Country: UK / IMDB
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Top 10 Films reviewed Otley on Blu-ray courtesy of Powerhouse Films. The film was released on Blu-ray on March 19, 2018.

The Indicator series Blu-ray from Powerhouse Films features the following features and extras:

• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with director Dick Clement and film historian Sam Dunn (2018)
• The Guardian Lecture with Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (2008): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Dick Fiddy at London’s National Film Theatre
• Tom Courtenay on ‘Otley’ (2018, 6 minutes): a new interview with the renowned British actor
• Ian La Frenais on ‘Otley’ (2018, 17 mins): new interview with the acclaimed co-writer of Otley
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Laura Mayne, an extract from Martin Waddell’s original novel, location reports, archival interviews with Tom Courtenay, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits

About the Author
Leah is a former student of film, media and culture studies and English literature at the University of Huddersfield. When not in uni or writing for magazines she is pulling pints in the local pub, drinking an excessive amount of tea or reading up on the latest philosophical theories.

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