In 1960, Norman Wisdom was left all at sea in The Bulldog Breed. He had already made a farce of the army in The Square Peg (1958), so what better than to join the navy? Back in the real world, the Russians had kick-started the space race putting Sputnik into orbit, so Norman rapidly finds himself selected to be the first Brit in space. Playing to type, the result is excellent physical comedy and copious tomfoolery at the expense of the upper ranks. With support from John Le Mesurier and Edward Chapman (the legendary "Mr Grimsdale") and uncredited appearances from Oliver... Reed and Michael Caine, this is a notable British comedy, with an unusually direct reference to the risqué Carry On movies. For his second starring role Norman Wisdom played the oldest orphan of Greenwood Children's Home in 1954's One Good Turn. Not only does he have to find the money to buy one of the orphans a model car, but after a visit to Brighton he discovers Greenwood is due to be closed down by the home's own unscrupulous chairman, a property developer with plans to build a factory on the site. Also starring Thora Hird, One Good Turn was surely a film with a personal resonance for Wisdom who was himself brought-up in an orphanage after his mother died and his father was unable to raise him. As would become a tradition, he contributes a song, "Please Opportunity", and the movie, though produced by Rank, now sits easily in that classic Ealing era where the ordinary man took on the big guys and won. The innocent knockabout humour remains appealing. --Gary S Dalkin [show more]
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