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Captain Zip – Comedy Capers


Phil Munnoch (Captain Zip), 1964-1967, 8mm, color, silent, 11:04
Location: London, England
Shown at Home Movie Day London

Transfer by Movette Film Transfer
Film courtesy of Phil Munnoch
Copyright Philip Munnoch
Thanks to: Lucy Smee, Captain Zip

About the Film

For my first three years of filming (1964-67) I had no way of editing. The sketches contained in ‘Comedy Capers’ remained on their original 50ft spools until I could afford editing equipment after a pay rise to £7 per week in 1967.

The film was shot on a Japanese Sunscope 8 clockwork camera I had been given when its owner observed that the roll of film shot on the camera when I’d borrowed it looked so good.

These early attempts at comedy were strictly a family affair. As well as myself, you see my father Jack, mother Ruth, brother Ray and his wife Pat and infant daughter Kim. My father worked as a Beefeater at the Tower of London, so it was shot entirely in the Tower, in our flat at number 8 Tower Green and in the grounds of the Tower. You can see my father in his Beefeater uniform in one sketch, and his best uniform hanging up in the passage in another. My father enjoyed our filming and was, I think, a frustrated comedy actor.

The Sunscope camera had three turret lenses and a parallax viewfinder, so the original handwritten titles were often partly out-of-frame. Some of them were updated later on a better camera. The Sunscope 8 had a cracked lens after I dropped it in cold weather – so that’s not a hair in the gate you see.

The B&W scenes were shot on Russian Technopan stock and colour sequences on Kodak stock. The Technopan stock used to jam in the camera sometimes, which is why some shots are a bit jumpy and exposed to light when fixing the jam.

The indoor photoflood lighting I had been given by someone at work had to be plugged into the ceiling light, which is why there’s a cable hanging in some scenes. They provided about 750 watts of light but could not be left on for more than 2 minutes as they were not fan cooled.

In Comedy Capers you see the earliest footage of me (aged 12) smelling flowers. I was greatly influenced by television, hence my versions of Docter Who, The Avengers and The Man from UNCLE – and Batman-esque inter-titles. I think the spray my sister-in-law sprayed me with was hair spray – they say I’ve been ‘stuck up’ ever since.

–Philip Munnoch, 2013

Film list:

  • Opening title sequence

16 year old Phil has trouble with a waste paper bin. 1967.

  • Smell quickie

12 year old Phil smells some flowers. From Phil’s first reel of film. 1964.

  • Christmas Commercial

An early flirt with the world of advertising which Phil would later work in as a copywriter, for, among others, Saatchi & Saatchi. Phil attempts to demonstrate a new pen and artificial snow but is hampered by collapsing Christmas decorations. Filmed by his mother Ruth . 30.12.1966.

  • The Book Deliverer

One of Phil’s better early sketches includes unplanned stunt work when Phil falls from a ladder. Filmed by and featuring his mother.

  • The Great Crown Jewel Robbery

Phil’s father Jack plays his real life role of a Beefeater guarding the ‘Crown Jewels’. After the Tower is locked up , a thief enters (also played by Jack in the great actor shortage). Phil plays an umbrella-carrying detective influenced by John Steed of The Avengers. The lights given to Phil by a commissionaire named Sgt Woodcock, who worked with Phil at Brecher & Co., solicitors, were plugged into the ceiling light socket and the lead often appeared in shot. The London Transport ‘bus stop’ prop was purchased from the Antique Hypermarket in St Christopher’s Place and is placed on a lampstand.

  • Toilet Titters

Phil needs to go to the toilet and yet would somehow rather have his breakfast. But the real problem is which toilet roll to use? Always decisions!

  • The Chess Game

Phil and brother Ray are opponents in a chess game, a regular Sunday afternoon activity for them at this time. We learnt to play chess from Mad Magazine. It was some time before we figured out the real rules.

  • Spy Ring

Inspired by TV’s ‘The Man From UNCLE’ and Waddington board game Spy Ring. Plans are stolen, but UNCLE agent Phil knows where to go and is armed with a specially prepared spray for dealing with enemy agents.

  • The Avenger

A pay rise to £7 per week enabled Phil to resume filming in colour. He was still influenced by John Steed but could still only afford one Avenger. 1967.

  • Doctor Who

A B&W shot of the police telephone box outside the Tower of London heralds the arrival of Doctor Who (played by Phil) in a Tardis resembling a wardrobe on a planetoid terrorised by tripod robots and deadly sprigs of jumping holly. Ray’s wife Pat appears as the radio operator. 1967.