Wednesday 25 April 2018

Carrying On with Norman: A Stitch in Time

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, Follow A Star from 1959 and On The Beat from 1962. We're continuing this series of blogs with a look at one of Norman's 1960s film hits - A Stitch in Time from 1963.

What's it about?

Norman Pitkin is the apprentice to Mr Grimsdale an old fashioned butcher. When the store is raided by a young thug, Mr Grimsdale (at Norman's suggestion) puts his gold watch in his mouth for safe keeping. The result of which leads to Mr Grimsdale accidentally swallowing the watch and sent to hospital. Whilst visiting Mr Grimsdale, Norman (in his usual way) accidentally causes chaos around the hospital and meets a girl called Lindy who hasn't spoken since her parents were killed in an aeroplane accident. After Norman is unable to visit Lindy as he is banned from hospital he and Mr. Grimsdale join the St John's Ambulance Brigade which gives him the excuse to visit her, as the usual chaos ensues. In the end Lindy visits him at a charity ball where the St. John Ambulance Brigade Band are performing. The ball descends into the inevitable shambles, caused entirely by Norman. However, Norman redeems himself (and the reputation of the Brigade) as he addresses those attending the ball and everyone donates money for the charity.

Who's in it?

Norman's regular co-stars Edward Chapman (Grimsdale) and Jerry Desmonde (here playing Sir Hector) are joined by his leading lady Jeanette Starke, Glyn Houston, Vera Day and Jill Melford.

Carry On faces?

Future Carry On favourite Patsy Rowlands appears in much of the early part of the film in the eye-catching role of Amy, the assistant in Grimsdale's shop. Also appearing in these scenes is future Carry On and Coronation Street actor Johnny Briggs playing a young thug who holds them up at gun point! 

Watch out also for comedy great Peter Jones who appears as Divisional Officer Russell of the St John's Ambulance Brigade. Peter went on to play cameo roles in both Carry On Doctor and Carry On England. And the future Father, Dear Father star Patrick Cargill also co-stars as Dr Meadows. Patrick appeared briefly in Carry On Regardless and a few years later, in Carry On Jack. And Norman's regular stooge Jerry Desmonde also popped up in Regardless as the lecherous actor Martin Paul. 

There are also several uncredited appearances from Carry On faces including: Wanda Ventham, Cyril Chamberlain, Fred Griffiths, Pat Coombs, Cardew Robinson, Marianne Stone, Julian Orchard and Ronnie Brody. See if you can spot them!

Did you know? 

This was the last film Norman Wisdom made in black and white.

The entire film was shot at Pinewood Studios, with very limited location work. You can spot many very familiar buildings used frequently in the Carry On films.

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