Old Mother Riley (film)

Old Mother Riley is a 1937 British comedy film directed by Oswald Mitchell and starring Arthur Lucan in the lead, with Kitty McShane, Barbara Everest, Patrick Ludlow and Hubert Leslie. Mother Riley and her daughter stop the plans of some disinherited relatives to overturn the terms of a will.[1]

Old Mother Riley
Front of house re-release (1942) still
Directed byOswald Mitchell
Produced byNorman Hope-Bell
Written byJohn Argyle
Con West
StarringArthur Lucan
Kitty McShane
Barbara Everest
Patrick Ludlow
Music byHorace Sheldon
CinematographyJack Parker
Edited byChallis Sanderson
Distributed byButcher's Film Service
Release date
August 1937 (UK)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

This is the first in a series of films made between 1937-1952, featuring Arthur Lucan's elderly drag character, and her daughter Kitty. After small roles in the Irish Kathleen Mavourneen (also 1937), Lucan and McShane were approached to star in their own film, Old Mother Riley. The film was cheaply made (it cost £2,000, taking six weeks to shoot) and based on their music hall sketch ‘The Matchseller’. Old Mother Riley was a box office success and Old Mother Riley in Paris soon followed.[2]


In his will, a wealthy match magnate leaves his fortune to his family, the only condition being that they must take in the first person they see selling matches. Very soon they are blessed with the presence of a loud Irish washerwoman, Old Mother Riley. Chaos ensues, as her presence in the household, and that of her daughter, Kitty, proves unwelcome.[3]


Critical reception

TV Guide commented that "far from being impressive cinema, the "Old Mother Riley" series provided for some innocuous and occasionally hysterical entertainment."[3]


  1. "BFI | Film & TV Database | OLD MOTHER RILEY (1937)". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  2. http://www.britmovie.co.uk/2007/01/19/old-mother-riley-the-life-and-career-of-arthur-lucan/
  3. TNT New. "Old Mother Riley Review". Movies.tvguide.com. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
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