Crooks in Cloisters
'Crooks in Cloisters' poster
Directed byJeremy Summers
Written byT.J. Morrison
Mike Watts
Produced byGordon Scott
StarringRonald Fraser
Barbara Windsor
Grégoire Aslan
Bernard Cribbins
Melvyn Hayes
Davy Kaye
Wilfrid Brambell
CinematographyHarry Waxman
Edited byAnn Chegwidden
Music byDon Banks
Distributed byWarner-Pathé Distributors
Release date
  • 1964 (1964)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Crooks in Cloisters is a 1964 British comedy which features Ronald Fraser as 'Little Walter', the leader of a gang of forgers, including Barbara Windsor as 'Bikini', Bernard Cribbins as 'Squirts', Melvyn Hayes as 'Willy', Grégoire Aslan as 'Lorenzo', and Davy Kaye as 'Specs'.


After pulling off a train robbery by tricking the train into stopping with false signal lights, 'Little Walter' and his gang are forced to hide out on a remote Cornish island in a monastery (which they buy with their "ill-gotten gains"), disguised as monks. With them comes 'Bikini' (Barbara Windsor), Walter's girlfriend, who is given the job of cook to the group, despite never having cooked in her life. After a few initial setbacks, they slowly adjust to their new contemplative life of tending animals and crops, surviving the added tribulations of visits by a group of tourists and two of the real monks who had been forced to sell the monastery after falling on hard times, including Brother Lucius (Corin Redgrave).

Gradually, the gang adjusts to its new pastoral life, which turns out to be much to their liking. A return to a life in the city is less appealing by the day. With the help of Phineas (Wilfrid Brambell), a fisherman, they continue to receive and dispose of stolen goods. The crooks change and are kinder and gentler, but 'Brother' Squirts begins to place bets on the dogs and the police become suspicious. When Walter decides it is safe to leave, none of them want to go, including Willy (Hayes), who has fallen for June (Francesca Annis), Phineas's granddaughter; these two manage to get away safely together. Walter gives the deeds of the island to the real monks who had originally owned it, and just as the rest of the gang say goodbye, they see the police waiting for them.



The harbour at Portloe was a location at the end of the film
The harbour at Portloe was a location at the end of the film

Crooks in Cloisters was filmed at the Associated British Picture Studios at Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, and at St Mawes in Cornwall.[1] The harbour is Portloe. The opening train robbery sequence involves British Rail class 4 diesel locomotive D140 (later to become class 46 under TOPS) at an as-yet unidentified location. The exteriors sequences for the monastery were filmed around the grounds of Ashridge House in Ashridge near Berkhamstead in Hertfordshire.[2]


  1. ^ Filming Locations for Crooks in Cloisters on the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Wilkinson, Phil (27 January 2013). "Crooks in Cloisters". Reelstreets. Archived from the original on 12 July 2020.