This seems among the hardest of Castle's efforts to come by: there is no legitimate home video release of it and, in fact, I had first acquired a poor-quality copy taken from a 16mm print but have now upgraded to a superior (if still rather soft) one sourced from TCM just in time for its inclusion in my ongoing centenary tribute to the director. The film, then, definitely takes him off the chiller course – opting for a black comedy vein which he would retain for his two subsequent efforts (both awaiting their turn, to be sure, in my current schedule), namely THE BUSY BODY and THE SPIRIT IS WILLING (both 1967). Besides, children are once again put at the forefront of the cast (and murder victim) list – as had been the case with the recently-viewed 13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS (1963) and I SAW WHAT YOU DID (1965).
The movie could well be confused with Nigel Patrick's HOW TO MURDER A RICH UNCLE (1957) but, here, we have a villainous relative trying to dispose of the rightful heir to a fortune – so the latter, a boy, decides to do the older man in himself before he can succeed in his nefarious scheme
hence the title and, by extension, the delightful irony of the central situation! Adding to the amusement is the fact that, though the child is ostensibly protected by a police sergeant, the latter is totally oblivious to the battle-of-wills going on around him! Besides, the kid is a compulsive liar, for which he is constantly berated by his girl companion – played by Mary Badham of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) fame – and of whose own female guardian the cop soon becomes enamoured. Most important of all, the uncle is a veritable (and published) WWII hero – so that his endeavours to get-rich-quick involve militaristic strategies, and a good deal of cold-bloodedness!
While the film is certainly no lost classic, it receives a definite boost once nominal star Nigel Green (in one of his best screen roles) gets his belated introduction; among the most inventive attempts by the protagonists to outdo each other are a precarious walk near a clifftop while under a hypnotic spell; a fall into a murky pool in which a shark is at large; the 'is it or isn't it?' poisoned mushroom sauce at dinner; a flight in a private plane with a low fuel supply; and a tarantula attack. The ending, then, which puts the deadly game squarely at a draw can be seen as a cop-out – but also that Castle was only pulling our leg throughout or, if you like, having some typically ghoulish fun at our expense
despite not having an accompanying gimmick this time around or, as it turned out, ever again!