Monday 25 June 2018

Carrying On with Norman - The Early Bird

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 1957Follow A Star from 1959 and On The Beat from 1962. My most recent blog focussed on A Stitch in Time. We're continuing this series of blogs with a look at another one of Norman's 1960s film hits - The Early Bird from 1965

What's it about?

Wisdom's character works for Grimsdale's Dairy as a milkman, in competition with Consolidated Dairies, an ever-growing rival company under the management of Walter Hunter.
Much of the humour centres on classic slapstick comedy, with Norman encountering various comedic escapades. These include being dragged around Mr Hunter's garden by an errant lawnmower and using the fire brigade's high pressure hosepipes to blast firemen off their ladders, after being called to a suspected fire at Consolidated Dairies' HQ.

Who's in it?

Norman is joined by his regular co-stars Jerry Desmonde (playing Hunter) and Edward Chapman in the role of Mr Grimsdale. The film also co-stars John Le Mesurier, Bryan Pringle and Paddie O'Neill.

Carry On faces?

Norman's regular co-star Jerry Desmonde played the cameo role of Martin Paul in Carry On Regardless. Carry On Screaming supporting actor Frank Thornton turns up playing a drunken doctor while Carry On Doctor cameo star Dandy Nichols appears in the brief role as a woman flooded out of her house by milk!

Reliable character actor Harry Locke (who appeared in the first three medical Carry Ons) pops up as a Commissionaire while future Carry On Loving star Imogen Hassall takes on an early film role as Sir Roger's Secretary. Three other Carry On faces appear in small, uncredited roles: Fred Griffiths as a man in a lift, David Lodge as an angry husband and finally, Tony Sagar as a fireman.

Did you know? 

The Early Bird was the first Wisdom comedy to be shot in colour. 

The film was in the top 15 most popular films at the British Box Office in 1966. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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