The Chiltern Hundreds
Section of British 6-sheet poster by Eric Pulford
Directed byJohn Paddy Carstairs
Screenplay byWilliam Douglas-Home
Patrick Kirwan
Based onthe play The Chiltern Hundreds by William Douglas-Home
Produced byGeorge H. Brown
CinematographyJack Hildyard
Edited byGeorge Clark
Music by
George H. Brown Productions (for) Two Cities Films
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 27 September 1949 (1949-09-27)
(London) (UK)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Chiltern Hundreds (released in the U.S. as The Amazing Mr. Beecham) is a 1949 British politically-themed comedy film directed by John Paddy Carstairs, adapting William Douglas Home's 1947 play of the same name and starring Lana Morris, David Tomlinson and Cecil Parker.[1][2]


Viscount Pym (David Tomlinson) – whilst on National Service – gets leave from the British Army on the pretext of standing for Parliament as a Conservative Party candidate in his home constituency, held by his family for generations. The request is a ruse to enable Pym to marry his wealthy American fiancée June Farrell (Helen Backlin) while she is still in England and before she has to return home to America. His master plan backfires when he finds himself swept into the election campaign and beaten by the more politically experienced Mr Cleghorn (Tom Macaulay), the Labour Party candidate.

After losing the election, his family take the news calmly, but his fiancée is mortified, and he must now devise a plan to win her back. When Cleghorn is made a peer, Viscount Pym stands again for the newly vacant seat, however this time he fights the campaign as a Socialist candidate but is beaten once again, this time by the family butler Beecham (Cecil Parker) – a steadfast Conservative.

(The title of the original play and the British title of this film refers to a Parliamentary convention which applies when a Member of Parliament wishes to stand down. Since MPs cannot technically resign, they apply for the Chiltern Hundreds instead, which is an 'office of profit under the Crown'.)



The film was made for £109,000.[3][4] Anthony Steel has one of his earliest roles in the film.[5]

Critical reception

Bosley Crowther in The New York Times noted "a somewhat slapdash lot of fooling. It rambles all over the place and is perilously uneven in its humorous attack. But it does offer several stinging sideswipes at the "plutocrats, peers and parasites," and kids class distinctions and traditions in a pleasantly good-natured way. In the title role of the butler, Cecil Parker—he who played the pompous colonel in the last episode of "Quartet"—is delightfully foolish and mannered, but A. E. Matthews as the butler's ranking boss, a beautifully addle-brained old codger, runs away with the show. Mr. Matthews' illustration of the complacence of an impoverished earl may not be wholly consistent but it glistens brightly in spots. David Tomlinson also does nicely as the thoroughly light-weight young lord and Lana Morris, Tom Macaulay and Marjorie Fielding are amusing in other roles."[6]


  1. ^ r-winbow (1 December 1949). "The Amazing Mr. Beecham (1949)". IMDb. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  2. ^ "The Chiltern Hundreds (1949)". BFI.
  3. ^ "Hustling Showman Of British Films". The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954). NSW: National Library of Australia. 19 July 1954. p. 11. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  4. ^ "THE STARRY WAY". The Courier-mail. No. 4075. Queensland, Australia. 17 December 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 24 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ Vagg, Stephen (23 September 2020). "The Emasculation of Anthony Steel: A Cold Streak Saga". Filmink.
  6. ^ "Movie Reviews". 12 March 2021 – via