Thursday 15 February 2018

Carrying On with Norman: On The Beat

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. 

I've already blogged about the films Trouble in Store from 1953Just My Luck from 1957 and Follow A Star from 1959.We're continuing this series of blogs with a look at one of Norman's 1960s film hits - On The Beat from 1962.

What's it about?

Norman Pitkin (Norman Wisdom) is employed by Scotland Yard as a car cleaner, but dreams of becoming a policeman as his late father was. The police reject his request to join the force, but later recruit him to work undercover in disguise. He has turned out to be the double of a suspected jewel thief, an Italian crime boss in London. In addition to his criminal activities, this man is a ladies' hairdresser.

Norman disguises himself as the suspect and gains entry to his salon. Once inside, after some inevitable mishaps, he manages to find the stolen goods, knock out the suspect, wrap him up in a curtain/wall rug, and bring him to justice.

As a reward, he is offered a permanent place in the police and marries his love, the ex-girlfriend of the man he brought to justice (whom had he rescued earlier in the film when she was attempting to commit suicide by jumping in the river).


Who's in it?

Norman is missing his regular co-stars Edward Chapman and Jerry Desmonde in On The Beat but he is still blessed with acting talent in the form of Raymond Huntley and Jennifer Jayne. Huntley was a familiar face from many great British films and television productions, often playing authority figures. He would go on to appear in Nurse On Wheels, playing Joan Sims' father the following year. Jennifer had already starred for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas in their 1961 music school comedy film, Raising The Wind, alongside the likes of Kenneth WIlliams, Liz Fraser and James Robertson Justice.

Carry On faces?

Loads of 'em! David Lodge plays Norman's nemesis Superintendent Hobson. David appeared in Carry On Regardless before returning for supporting roles in Girls, Dick, Behind, England and many roles in the ATV Carry On Laughing series in 1975. Carry On original Eric Barker plays a doctor in the film. Eric starred in Sergeant, Constable and Spying, before making a brief cameo in Carry On Emmannuelle. 


Esma Cannon has a supporting role as Mrs Stammers. Esma is best known for her roles in Carry On Constable, Regardless, Cruising and Cabby. And Dilys Laye pops up as an American lady who encounters Norman when he's erm... On The Beat. We know Dilys for roles in Cruising, Spying, Doctor and Camping. Dilys' Cruising co-star Ronnie Stevens also appears as the character Oberon. 

There are also small roles in On The Beat for Terence Alexander (Regardless); Peggy Ann Clifford (Cleo); Julian Orchard (Camel, Doctor, Henry); Cyril Chamberlain (First seven Carry Ons) and Larry Martyn (cameos in Convenience and Behind).

Did you know? 

There is a supporting role in the film for actor Jack Watson, playing a police sergeant. Jack had already filmed his role as Elsie Tanner's first on screen love interest Bill Gregory in Coronation Street. He would return to the show in 1970 and then again, finally, in late 1983 to film legendary star Pat Phoenix's final ever scenes as Elsie.


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