The Wrong Arm of the Law

The Wrong Arm of the Law is a 1963 British comedy film directed by Cliff Owen and starring Peter Sellers, Bernard Cribbins, Lionel Jeffries, John Le Mesurier and Bill Kerr.[1] It was partly written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and made by Romulus Films.[2]

The Wrong Arm of the Law
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCliff Owen
Produced byE.M. Smedley Aston
Aubrey Baring
Written byJohn Antrobus
Ray Galton
Alan Simpson
John Warren
Len Heath
StarringPeter Sellers
Lionel Jeffries
Bernard Cribbins
John Le Mesurier
Bill Kerr
Music byRichard Rodney Bennett
CinematographyErnest Steward
Edited byTristam Cones
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
Release date
  • 14 March 1963 (1963-03-14) (UK)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film opened at the Warner Theatre in London's West End on 14 March 1963.[3]


In London, a gang of criminals from Australia led by Jack Coombes (Bill Kerr) impersonate policemen to carry out robberies. Local gang leader "Pearly" Gates (Sellers), who operates from the cover of a French couturier, finds his takings cut severely, and blames rival crook "Nervous" O'Toole (Bernard Cribbins). When it emerges that they are both being scammed by the same gang, they join forces, along with Lionel Jeffries' Police Inspector "Nosey" Parker, to bring the so-called "I.P.O. mob" (I.P.O. - Impersonating a Police Officer) to justice. Nanette Newman provides the love interest, John Le Mesurier plays a senior policeman, and a young Michael Caine has a small and uncredited role as a young PC. Other uncredited roles include John Junkin (Maurice), Dennis Price (Educated Ernest), Cardew Robinson (Postman), Dick Emery (Man in Flat 307), Mario Fabrizi (Van Driver), John Harvey (Police Station Sergeant), Harold Siddons (PC in Basement Garage), Jack Silk (Police Station PC), Derek Guyler (non-speaking PC at Scotland Yard), Gerald Sim (Airfield Official) and Marianne Stone (“The bird in the front row” at Gangsters' Meeting).


Production and reception

Many of the robbery scenes were filmed around Uxbridge Moor. The film features an Aston Martin DB4 GT.

Peter Sellers loved his 1961 Aston Marton DB4GT so much that he bought the car after shooting the film—contingent on the engine being replaced with a 4.0-litre Lagonda Rapide.[4]

It was one of the 12 most popular films at the British box office in 1963.[5]

In a positive review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther concluded, "Of course, it is strictly lightweight clowning, longer on plot than on wit and wholly dependent on the archness of Mr. Sellers to give it a cachet. Others in the cast are amusing, especially Mr. Jeffries as the cop, but the enterprise stands by the stiffening of Mr. Sellers's cunning roguishness."[6]


  1. "The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963) - Cliff Owen - Cast and Crew - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  2. "The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963)".
  3. The Times, 14 March 1963, Page 2
  4. Edsall, Larry. "Movie star, movie car: Sellers' DB4GT heading to auction". The Journal. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  5. "Most Popular Films Of 1963." Times [London, England] 3 Jan. 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
  6. Crowtherr, Bosley (3 April 1963). "Sellers Keeps Crime Rate Up:'Wrong Arm of Law' Opens at Coronet". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
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