Dry Rot (film)

Dry Rot is a 1956 British comedy film directed by Maurice Elvey, and starring Ronald Shiner, Brian Rix, Peggy Mount, and Sid James.

Dry Rot
Directed byMaurice Elvey
Produced byJack Clayton
Written byJohn Chapman (as John Roy Chapman)(from his play)
StarringRonald Shiner
Brian Rix
Peggy Mount
Sid James
Music byPeter Akister
(Musical Director: Lambert Williamson)
CinematographyArthur Grant
Edited byGerry Hambling
Distributed byIndependent Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 31 October 1956 (1956-10-31)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The story is an adaptation of a 1954 Whitehall farce by John Chapman, who also wrote the screenplay, in which the sketchy story plays second fiddle to the quick-paced action and unlikely situations. The plot concerns the practice of gambling, which was illegal in the United Kingdom at the time, other than at racecourses.


Three dodgy bookies, Alf Tubbe (Ronald Shiner), Flash Harry (Sidney James), and Fred Phipps (Brian Rix), plan to rig a horse race by kidnapping the fancied horse and its French jockey. They stay at a country house hotel near the racecourse, run by Colonel and Mrs Wagstaff, where they conceal the horse Sweet Lavender (and later the jockey) in a hidden cellar.

A subplot sees the dimwitted Fred fall in love with the hotel chambermaid Beth (Joan Sims).

The title Dry Rot refers to the rotten wood on the hotel stairs, which regularly catches every character unawares.



The horse-racing sequences were filmed at Kempton Park Racecourse, Sunbury-on-Thames.

Critical reception

  • The Radio Times critic wrote, "This tale of crooked bookies plods along more slowly than a doped horse, but there is the compensation of the polished performances of expert farceurs Ronald Shiner, Brian Rix, and Sid James." [1]
  • Sky Movies wrote, "Heather Sears makes her screen debut, Joan Sims giggles infectiously, and the charms of Shirley Ann Field can be very briefly glimpsed as a waitress at the Three Frogs Cafe. But Peggy Mount sweeps all else before her in a relatively short, but devastating, appearance as the indomitable Sergeant Fire." [2]


  1. "Dry Rot | Film review and movie reviews". Radio Times. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  2. "Dry Rot - Sky Movies HD". Skymovies.sky.com. 23 May 2002. Retrieved 29 July 2014.

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