Too Many Crooks

Too Many Crooks is a 1959 British comedy film directed by Mario Zampi. The plot concerns a bunch of inept crooks who kidnap the wife of a shady businessman, only for him to decide he doesn’t want her back.[1] It stars George Cole, Sidney James and Bernard Bresslaw as members of the gang, alongside Brenda De Banzie as the victim and Terry-Thomas as her husband.[2]

Too Many Crooks
Film poster by Nicola Simbari
Directed byMario Zampi
Produced byMario Zampi
Written byJean Nery (story)
Michael Pertwee
Christiane Rochefort
George Cole
Brenda De Banzie
Sidney James
Bernard Bresslaw
Music byStanley Black
CinematographyStanley Pavey
Edited byBill Lewthwaite
Distributed byRank Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 8 March 1959 (1959-03-08) (UK)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


The members of a gang, especially Sid, grow impatient as their incompetent leader, Fingers, botches the robbery of a fur store, the latest in a series of disasters. Fingers then comes up with the idea of robbing businessman William Gordon. Gordon bluffs them into believing the police are on their way. Fingers refuses to give up, plotting to kidnap Gordon's daughter. However, he errs yet again and ends up with Gordon's meek wife Lucy instead.

Thinking she will do just as well, Fingers demands £25,000 ransom for her safe return. To his surprise, Gordon gleefully refuses. The philanderer has been carrying on an affair with his secretary and would like nothing better than to be rid of his dowdy wife. Fingers desperately lowers his price over and over again, finally offering to give her back for a mere £200, but is turned down.

When Lucy learns of this, her love for her husband is extinguished. She decides to get revenge and soon takes charge of the gang (her wartime training in unarmed combat coming in handy). Knowing of Gordon's tax dispute with the Inland Revenue and his distrust of banks, she figures out where he has hidden much of his money. She leads the gangsters in stealing the cash and, for good measure, the furs and jewellery Gordon had lavished on his mistress, taking half of the proceeds for her share. On leaving Gordon's house through the bedroom window a lit cigarette is left, which unintentionally burns the house down. Gordon returns and, thinking his money is burning, repeatedly jumps into the burning building.

By coincidence, the next day, the newspapers report a gruesome murder, just like the one Fingers had threatened. Gordon jumps to the wrong conclusion, and Lucy makes him pay some more for his mistake. She has Sid and Fingers impersonate policemen investigating her disappearance. Fingers extorts most of the rest of Gordon's ready cash in exchange for letting the matter drop. When a real Scotland Yard inspector shows up soon after, Gordon loses his temper and raises suspicions of murder.

Desperate, he decides to flee the country. Fingers's ex-stripper girlfriend offers to provide a forged passport. He agrees to meet her later, after visiting his mother. Lucy guesses that he is going there to pick up a final stash of money. The gang shows up and finds him with a suitcase. When the police come to question Gordon further, Fingers takes the suitcase (containing £50,000) and leaves, Gordon being too afraid to raise a fuss. Then Lucy walks in on her now-penniless husband.

Fingers and his gang decide to keep all of this last windfall and not split it with Lucy, but as they drive away, the suitcase pops open unnoticed and the money is scattered on the road.


Critical reception

In The New York Times, Bosley Crowther described the film as "a good, crazy, brisk farce comedy."[3]

See also


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