Norton of Morton

Read a new instalment of Norton of Morton every Saturday at 4 o'clock

Saturday 13 August 2016

Bow tie baddies

In which G.M. Norton hits upon a fail-proof way to spot a bounder.

As the 11th incarnation of Dr Who quite rightly observed, bow ties are cool. But according to mid-century British films, bow ties were crooked too. Or at least, the wearer of the bow tie was crooked.

Yes, I realise that Sir Winston Churchill favoured this entanglement of silk under his jowls but the evidence certainly suggests that the bow tie is the true mark of a cad, bounder, cutpurse and stinker.

Here are some notable examples:
William Hartnell as Dallow, one of Pinkie’s henchmen in Brighton Rock (1947)
Sid James as Benny, a member of a crooked gambling gang in Belles of St Trinian’s (1954)
Cecil Parker as Major Claude Courtney, one of the gang members in The Ladykillers (1955). In addition to the bow tie, his wearing of a British Warm overcoat adds to the image of a retired army officer, but whether he was a real ‘Major’ is certainly debatable.
Richard Attenborough as bounder and art thief, Private Cox, in Private's Progress (1956)
Alastair Sim as freelance assassin, Hawkins, in The Green Man (1956)
Terry-Thomas as serial philanderer, tightwad and general all-round cheat, Billy Gordon in Too Many Crooks (1959)
Not content with making this list once, Alastair Sim returns again. This time as Mr Potter, founder of the school of 'one upmanship' in School for Scoundrels (1960).  
To prove my theory beyond all reasonable doubt, even Ian Carmichael’s character Henry Palfrey gets caught in the act in the very same film. Of course, that’s after learning Mr Potter’s dubious ploys to gain the upper hand.

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

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  1. When I think of bow-ties, Terry Thomas always comes to mind! I think he was in School for Scoundrels? He always played similar characters, at least in my memory.

  2. Terry-Thomas is the bounder par excellence.

    And now I shall side-eye any chap in a bow-tie...


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