Charters and Caldicott – As War Begins First appearing on British cinema screens in 1938, the characters of Charters and Caldicott are amongst film history’s most famous and favourite comedy duo. From their first appearance in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, Charters and Caldicott hit a resonance with cinema goers with their charming notes of sarcasm and dry humour. This initial popularity resulted in the two characters being reunited in several films throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s. Full of British idiosyncrasies from a bygone era, the two cricket lovers are sticklers for upholding proper standards of dress, decorum and behaviour; no matter where they are or what predicament they find themselves in. Leading characters in The Lady Vanishes film, they went on to re-appear in other classic films including Night Train To Munich, Millions Like Us and Passport to Pimlico.
Charters and Caldicott, brilliantly played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, had immense popularity and brought a smile and relief to millions of people. Created as a means of adding a comedy element to the spy thrillers popular the time, the duo appear as a pair of bumbling upper class fools travelling around Europe ambivalent to the events leading up to the start of the Second World War. Classic scenes see them sharing a bed in the hotel maid’s room in Bandrika, replaying a cricket game in a railway carriage with sugar cubes and sending a secret message under a doughnut to an undercover British agent. To the uninformed, it appears as though they were dreamt up by the German high command as a derogatory cameo of British foolishness. In reality, they reflect the British stiff upper lip in the face of adversity at a time when Britain stood alone in the face of increasing tension across Europe. Charters and Caldicott – As War Begins covers the period in Charters’ and Caldicott’s screen life between 1938 and 1943 covering their first four film appearances – The Lady Vanishes, Night Train To Munich, Crook’s Tour and Millions Like Us – all classic films. This book brings together – for the very first time – all the scenes that they appeared in – telling the story of what Charters and Caldicott saw, what they said and what they understood to be happening. It tells the humorous way that Charters and Caldicott saw the world and the funny and exciting adventures that happened to them during this very turbulent time in world history.