|Carlton-Browne of the F.O.|
|Directed by||Roy Boulting|
|Written by||Roy Boulting (screenplay and story)|
Jeffrey Dell (screenplay and story)
|Produced by||John Boulting|
|Edited by||Anthony Harvey|
|Music by||John Addison|
|Distributed by||British Lion Films|
|10 March 1959 (London)|
Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (U.S. title: Man in a Cocked Hat) is a 1959 British comedy film made by the Boulting Brothers and starring Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers, and Luciana Paluzzi. It centres on an inept Foreign Office (F.O.) diplomat who is sent to re-establish good relations with the mineral-rich island of Gaillardia, a former British colony that had been forgotten for 50 years and is attracting the attention of both the US and the USSR.
A title sequence prologue details Britain's accidental acquisition of the island Gaillardia (located on the 33rd parallel south) during the 18th century, the feud between two scions of its royal house and Britain's granting the island self-rule in 1916. When independence was granted, the Foreign Office (F.O.) failed to recall its representative, who was still there forty years later. He writes a letter to the F.O. informing them of Russian moves to annex the island's mineral wealth.
After some research to find out where Gaillardia is, the F.O. put the matter in the hands of Carlton-Browne, head of the Department of Miscellaneous Territories. Brutally inept, he had only got the role due to the distinguished career of his father. He suggests sending out two British geologists under the cover of a British Council Morris dancing troupe putting on a show for the king of Gaillardia. At the show the king is assassinated and his young Oxford-educated son Loris flies out to accede to the throne. On the flight, travelling incognito as 'Mr Jones', he talks to a beautiful young woman. Carlton-Browne is sent out to see to British interests under the new king, accompanied by his military attaché Colonel Bellingham of the Bays.
Loris and his prime minister Amphibulos stall the British, hoping to start a bidding war between them and the Russians. Amphibulos hopes to get rich but Loris hopes to modernise his country and benefit its people (Gaillardia's backward economy, limited funds and negligible military strength have all been made blindingly obvious at a State Parade held in Loris's honour). The two are then visited by Loris's uncle Grand Duke Alexis and the veiled Princess Ilyena, whom Alexis and his rebels are backing as the true claimant to the throne.
To settle the struggle between Loris and Alexis, the British get the United Nations to partition the island (to save costs, this is accomplished by little more than painting a white line across the island with a cricket pitch marking trolley). Soon afterwards the British mineralogists arrive back at the F.O. to announce they have discovered rich cobalt deposits, on what is now Alexis's half of the island. Loris comes to Britain for talks but the F.O. refuse to meet him, instead negotiating with Alexis so Britain can seize the mineral wealth. Loris discovers this and also overhears Amphibulos giving Alexis his support and planning to overthrow Loris in favour of Ilyena.
Disgusted, Loris leaves his hotel and meets Ilyena, who is attempting to avoid an unintelligent British suitor Carlton-Browne has set up for her. Loris recognises her as the young woman from the plane but only discovers her true identity when they duck into a cinema and see a newsreel of her arrival in Britain. Initially angry that she has hidden her identity from him, he soon falls in love with her and starts to discuss with her how to outwit both Amphibulos and Alexis. The F.O. receive news of a revolution in Gaillardia, withdraw their support for the partition and send Bellingham at the head of a party of parachutists to put down the revolution.
After the parachutists mistakenly attack their own HQ, Bellingham and Carlton-Browne are captured and taken to see the leaders of the revolution, Loris and Ilyena, now engaged to be married. Loris pretends that Bellingham and Carlton-Browne are not in Gaillardia to intervene in the revolution but to give his congratulations on the engagement, which Carlton-Browne goes along with. Gaillardia is reunited, the Russians, British and Americans leave and Carlton-Browne is granted orders of chivalry by both Gaillardia and Britain for his services to world peace. The credits roll on a scene of a team of workmen painting out the white line.