Friday 6 October 2017

Carrying On with Norman: Trouble in Store


This is part of a brand new series of blogs looking back at some of my favourite Norman Wisdom films. Although never as fruity or innuendo-laden as the Carry Ons, Sir Norman's films share a similiar feel to many of the early Carry Ons. Indeed they quite often shared the same production base - Pinewood Studios - and Wisdom's films often co-starred some very familiar Carry On faces. 

Norman Wisdom was one of the most bankable British film stars in the 1950s and early 1960s. His stardom lasted long after his peak at the box office too. He appealed to a cross section of society and young and old loved him in equal measure. His cheeky, child-like charm, excellent comic timing and sheer energy catapulted him to fame and he's very clearly one of our most talented comedy stars full stop. 

To start this blogging series I'm going to look at one of Norman's earlier film hits - Trouble in Store from 1953.

What's it about?

Norman, a lowly stock clerk at Burridge's department store, is in love with another employee, Sally Wilson  though he has been unable to muster the courage to let her know how he feels. After he antagonizes the new head of the store, Augustus Freeman, he is promptly fired. On his way out, Norman helps Miss Bacon carry her bulging suitcases, unaware that she is an audacious shoplifter. Freeman sees Norman assisting a "customer" and rehires him.

Meanwhile, Peggy Drew, the store's personnel manager, flirts with Mr. Freeman, while plotting with her boyfriend Gerald to rob the place. Norman is fired and rehired again and again, as his escapades somehow manage to benefit the store. He also finally becomes acquainted with Sally, chasing her down through the city streets to return her purse. Norman inadvertently uncovers the robbery plot, scheduled to coincide with a big sale the next day. But, he is unable to get Sally or anyone else to take him seriously.


Who's in it?

Norman is joined by one of his regular co-stars and stooges, the wonderfully suave Jerry Desmonde (read more about him here). Also along for the fun are Moira Lister, part of the Hancock's Half Hour team in its early years, Lana Morris as Norman's love interest and the inimitable Dame Margaret Rutherford as shoplifting Miss Bacon!

 Carry On faces?

Trouble in Store features an early supporting role for future Carry On leading lady Joan Sims, playing shop assistant Edna. Reliable, instantly recognisable character actor Michael Ward also crops up as Wilbur. There are also small roles for regular Carry On faces Cyril Chamberlain, Esma Cannon and Ian Wilson.

Did you know? 

Allegedly, Jill Craigie, who wrote the first draft of the script, is reported to have asked for her name to be removed from the credits after learning of Norman Wisdom's involvement.(Boo hiss!) 

Despite this, Sir Norman went on to win a BAFTA award for best newcomer for his performance in this film.

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  1. I recently saw Jack Lane in Wisdom of a Fool at Winchester. His one man show perfectly recreates the highlights of Normans life. It is a brilliant one man show. I saw Norman in his later years in Boournemouth, he was leaping about and playing musical instruments all evening. He just could not stop getting laughs. Incredible!

    1. Thanks Mike. I interviewed Jack for the blog earlier this year. Hes great!