Things Are Looking Up
Film poster
Directed byAlbert de Courville
Written byStafford Dickens
Daisy Fisher
Con West
Albert de Courville
Produced byMichael Balcon
Herbert Mason
Alexander Korda (uncredited)[1]
StarringCicely Courtneidge
Max Miller
William Gargan
Mary Lawson
CinematographyCharles Van Enger
Glen MacWilliams
Edited byR. E. Dearing
Music byLouis Levy
Distributed byGaumont British Distributors
Release date
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Things Are Looking Up is a 1935 British musical comedy film directed by Albert de Courville, produced by Michael Balcon for Gaumont British and starring Cicely Courtneidge, Max Miller and William Gargan.[2][3] It was made at Islington Studios by British Gaumont, an affiliate of Gainsborough Pictures.[4] The film's sets were designed by Alex Vetchinsky. The film was distributed by Gaumont British Distributors.

Courtneidge plays a dual role as the sisters Bertha and Cicely Fytte. Bertha is a dour schoolteacher, while the bubbly Cicely runs a nearby circus. When Bertha elopes, Cicely takes her place at the school to prevent her from getting the sack. It was the film debut for Vivien Leigh.[5][6]

Things Are Looking Up was released to cinemas in the United Kingdom in 1935.


Cicely Fytte is a circus equestrienne and the twin sister of Bertha Fytte who disapproves of her. Bertha is a strict schoolteacher at a girls' boarding school and not well liked by the girls. One day Bertha elopes with a wrestler so Cicely temporarily takes her place as teacher for one day - to prevent her from losing her job. Cicely is livelier and not as disapproving as Bertha so the girls are initially surprised by Cicely's bubbly personality - unaware that she isn't Bertha. A series of comical events follow: up-beating singing in a music class (leading to the composition of the song "Things Are Looking Up"), winning a tennis match at Wimbledon (despite not having as much experience as Bertha and breaking a racket) and trying to teach geometry (despite not knowing the subject). In spite of her unorthodox methods, she becomes successful and by the time Bertha (having been shortlisted to succeed the retiring headmistress) returns, she becomes headmistress. As soon as Bertha comes back to the school, Cicely leaves with the music teacher, Van Gaard in his car and they sing their song from the music lesson Cicely covered - Things Are Looking Up.[7][8]


Critical reception

TV Guide called the film a "quite good comedy," and rated it two out of four stars.[10] David Quinlan describes the film as a comedy dominated by Cicely Courtneidge.[11]

Halliwell's Film & Video Guide described the film as a "[lively] star vehicle for an oddly matched team."[12]


  1. ^ "Alexander Korda". -The Open University. Accessed 2015-12-29
  2. ^ "Things Are Looking Up 1935". Britmovie Home of British Films. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  3. ^ Cook, 1997, p. 188
  4. ^ Wood, 1986 p.84
  5. ^ Howard Reid, 2005, p. 205
  6. ^ "Vivien Leigh". National Portrait Gallery. Leigh made her British film debut in Things Are Looking Up
  7. ^ David Quinlan (1984). British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928-1959. Batsford. p. 160.
  8. ^ "Things Are Looking Up 1935 DVD". Old Rare Films. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Things Are Looking Up (1935)". Archived from the original on 11 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Things Are Looking Up".
  11. ^ David Quinlan (1984). British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928-1959. Batsford. p. 160.
  12. ^ John Walker (1998). Halliwell's Film & Video Guide (13 ed.). HarperCollins Publishers. p. 771.