Tuesday 7 November 2017

Carrying On with Norman: Follow A Star

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. 

We're continuing this series of blogs with a look at one of Norman's 1950s film hits - Follow A Star from 1959.

What's it about?

Norman Truscott works as a dry cleaner, but dreams of being a stage performer. To this end, he takes elocution and singing lessons with Miss Dobson, so far with little success. He is also in love with Judy, Miss Dobson's colleague, who teaches piano.

Norman goes to the theatre to see singing star Vernon Carew and causes chaos when he tries to join in the performance. But Carew realises that Norman's untrained voice is better that his own voice, which is fading rapidly, as is his popularity. On the pretext of offering Norman singing lessons, he secretly records the former singing, and passes the recordings off as his own. They are a success and Carew is a star again.

Miss Dobson realises what's happened and smuggles herself and Norman backstage during Carew's performance. She sees the record being played with Carew miming to it. She exposes him as a fake, again causing chaos onstage and backstage.

Norman is persuaded to sing on stage and is acclaimed by the audience. But whilst they applaud him, he slips quietly away with Judy.

Who's in it?

Sir Norman Wisdom leads the cast as Norman Truscott and he is ably supported by regular stooge Jerry Desmonde as Vernon Carew. Norman's love interest Judy is played by June Laverick while reliable support comes from the likes of John Le Mesurier and Ron Moody.

Carry On faces?

Several popular Carry On faces join Norman for this enjoyable romp. Grabbing a starring role is the lovely Hattie Jacques as the gloriously named Dymphna Dobson. Hattie's Sykes co-star Richard Wattis joins in the fun as Dr Chatterway and shares some very funny scenes with Wisdom. The wonderful Fenella Fielding turns up in the glamorous role of Lady Finchington and fellow Carry On Regardless cameo co-star Sydney Tafler plays Pendlebury.

It's also worth keeping a look out for some familiar Carry On faces in uncredited roles. Dilys Laye pops up as a lady with a dog in the park while there are also small roles for the likes of Pat Coombs, Michael Ward and Marianne Stone. 

Did you know? 

This was the first film role for future comedy great, the wonderful Dick Emery. Dick appears as a drunken party guest.

Also keep your eyes peeled for Sheree Winton, the actress mother of game show host Dale Winton. Sheree has an uncredited role as a chorus girl. Sheree featured in many productions around this time and went on to work with Sid James in his comedy drama series Taxi!

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