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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Keep Em' Laughing - Norman Wisdom

 It is for the series of British film comedies  made between 1953 and 1966 that Norman Wisdom is best remembered - so successful were these films that for a period in the Sixties, Wisdom's films made even more money than the James Bond movies. Unlike many British comedians Wisdom's enjoyed massive popularity in many Eastern Bloc countries - in Albania the actor was and remains huge.

Charlie Chaplin called Wisdom his favourite clown.

The character of Norman Pitkin who Wisdom played in most of his better films was the classic everyman character and his small stature and the way he faced off against big business and bureaucracy endeared him to the cinema going public. Wisdom was superb at physical slapstick and these skills were brought to the fore in his movies. Prat-falls abounded with Wisdom being hurled through windows or over walls. His films usually contained a romantic subplot, a lesson Wisdom learned from another British comedy great, George Formby.

The top five Wisdom movies.
Trouble in Store
The Early Bird
The Bulldog Breed
A Stitch in Time
On the Beat

The Wisdom films still hold the abitity to make the viewer scream with laughter - thay may often be silly and derivative of each other, but it doesn't matter. The routines are so well worked out and executed, the character so well observed that it's impossible not to be seduced by the little man in the flat cap.

When I was a kid, Wisdom's films would regularly show up on TV as afternoon matinees - that they were usually shown during school holidays was testament to how the character Wisdom created had crossed generations in his appeal. Now you can't ask for more than that.

Most of Wisdom's better films are available in a great box set collection from ITV Home Entertainment - the box set contains twelve movies and retails at a decent price of £20, even less at online store like Amazon.

1 comment:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I had completely forgotten about Norman Wisdom till I read your post. You can't forget that face, though. I have a vague recollection of having watched his movies several years ago. Hopefully, MGM or TCM will run them one of these days.