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Thread: The Early Bird

  1. #1
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    As a child I grew up with the movies of Norman Wisdom constantly showing on the TV. I watched them avidly. Sadly, as I grew older and more cynical, their flaws became noticeable. The unattainable girl, the sledgehammer pathos, which at times threatens to sink his movies, all these faults and more, became apparent.



    Yet despite all this, I still have a soft spot for old Norman (and it’s not the Grimpon Mire!) and have fond memories of this, possibly his best movie. While there is still pathos (regarding his horse) it’s thankfully present in very small doses. Even better, there is no love interest. Instead we are given a very nice plot about a small, out-of-date diary, threatened by a huge, modern conglomerate.



    The highlight is the opening twenty minutes or so, a near silent sequence where Norman and the ever-present Mr Grimsdale, struggle to get up while still half asleep. Some of the falls look very painful to me, but it remains a very well executed set piece.



    Adding to the fun is a very memorable score by Ron Grainer, which you can’t help humming after listening to it!



    The only downside to this movie is a redundant golfing sequence, in which Sir Norman causes chaos dressed as a vicar! It quickly wears out it's welcome and seems to me to be a bit out-of place.



    That aside, it remains a jolly little romp, Norman's best and it takes me back to my childhood, which can't be bad.

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    Good on you.. Far too often when people talk about films they tend to do so from a "snobby" perspective, only wishing to put forward titles which have become either "trendy" or an acknowledged classic.



    Your refreshing comments are good to read,one of my earliest childhood memories is watching "Up in the World" as the big Xmas Day film, and as an added bonus he also supports Man City.



    Mind you in his "flaws" I noticed you missed out his obligatory song!

  3. #3
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Ah, but you can't beat "Don't Laugh At Me ('cause I'm A Fool)" from Trouble in Store.



    People do tend to either love him (& his films) or hate them.

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    SteveCrook:

    Ah, but you can't beat "Don't Laugh At Me ('cause I'm A Fool)" from Trouble in Store.

    People do tend to either love him (& his films) or hate them.
    Poor Sir Norman seems very under-rated today, perhaps because, unlike say, the Carry On movies, his films can’t be seen as being “camp” or “ironic” and it will never be fashionable to like him.



    Mind you, his movie’s still seem to find an audience today, for example at work a mention of watching “The Early Bird”, led to a reaction of “that’s the one about the milkmen, isn’t it?” from a colleague, who, it turns out, younger sister loves his movies.

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    Well, I grew up with Norman Wisdom films too, and remember seeing The Early Bird as a kid in the cinema. Alas, I must confess as I grew older and fashion conscious, I rejected his films as being too corny or old hat. But as time has gone on I've realised that many of the things I rejected then are in fact priceless. I would put Norman Wisdom among them and indeed am happy to get any opportunity to watch him. Nice to see him still going so strong into his eighties - Last Of The Summer Wine (fast becoming a home for veteran British character actors) and the current serial Between The Sheets . Long may he continue.

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    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    I'd skip most of them, and certainly when colour was introduced his career was essentially over. There was a brief comback in a 1990s thriller called Double X but it was a woeful affair. I've only too see one of those overly sentimental scenes with a (often sick) young girl and it's time to reach for the sick bag.



    My favourite, or least-disliked, was On The Beat, probably because there was the main plot of Norman's endeavors to follow in his dads footsteps and join the police force and the subsequent introduction of a look-a-like (the same plot device used in The Square Peg) crook. Some of the moments with Raymond Huntley and David Lodge trying to humour Pitkin were funny and the chase scene with a mass of policemen blowing their whistles ended with a nice touch of pathos. The Square Peg was bearable, and reminded me somewhat of Ian Carmicheal in Private's Progess, and having Honor Blackman in the cast always helps.

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    But he was a good actor as well ...



    See if you can find a copy of "Going Gently" the 1981 TV play he did with Fulton Mackay as two elderly cancer patients with Dame Judy Dench as their nurse.



    I quite liked Double X in that it was a departure from his usual roles. As a thriller it wasn't the best one ever - but I've seen a lot more fuss made about many that were a lot worse.



    The 1968 film "The Night They Raided Minsky's" was also interesting. About a vaudeville show that turns into burlesque.



    Steve

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    I actually like Norman Wisdom and I wish Lee Evans would stop trying to copy him. I know Mr W is someone who you love or loath, I think he is still a funny and lovely man. I remember the first time I saw the "Early Bird" and I laughed myself silly when he fell down the stairs and grabbed hold of this tiny bit of wallpaper in a vain attempt to save himself and a whole lot stripped off and wrapped in it he rolled down the stairs - that is pure Jaques Tati!! Was it "On the Beat" when he tried to make himself taller by wearing stilts and sat down at the interview, crossed his legs and one of the stilts shot out? Hee! Hee! Oh well, I thought it was funny!



    God Bless Norman, sometimes a genius.



    Love Lisa-Lou XXXX

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    Going Gently was great. Funnily enough I was reminded of that only a year or two back when he made a guest appearance in Casualty. Except it was his wife who was dying in that one.



    Minsky's was a bit of a curious one, wasn't it?



    I've not seen or heard of Double X but I'd quite like to - can't imagine him in a real thriller.



    Did anyone see the profile on The South Bank Show a few years ago? He spoke candidly about the physical violence he suffered as a child and also demonstrated to Melvyn Bragg how he could "cry to order".

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    SteveCrook:

    But he was a good actor as well ...
    Born into the wrong era imho. He'd have probably been in his element working with Marcel Varnel in the 1930s.

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    I really enjoy Norman Wisdom and yes...I really squirm at the scenes of pathos but still enjoy his films immensely.

    Re: no love interest in "The Early Bird"? What about when he takes the float horse up into his bed...and the horse pulls the sheet up over Norman to keep him warm! Cracks me up every time.

    ...and the scene in "The Square Peg" when he is making his escape from the army camp dressed as an ATS girl, and is accosted by the sergeant-major (played by Campbell Singer) who finds Norman attractive and promptly makes an (inaudible) filthy suggestion in Norman's ear...well, the look of absolute horrified disgust on Norman's face has left me with sore ribs on many occasions.

    ...and what about....no that's enough I suppose.

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    The chase scene through the back gardens always gets me belly-laughing. The best ever comic chase.

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    (first post) I feel that "On the Beat" was a classic.The Score was just superb.I turn my brain differently when watching his films as i do with Carry On's.With carry On's you know your going to get Double Entandre..but i am also a fan of slapstick.



    I love norman and still do..and the pathos is minor to the majorism of the slapstick.I never get bored of norman.



    Two classic moments that are making me smile while i write this...



    The trumpet scene in "A stitch in time" CLASSIC & "On the Beat" with the running policemen..Classic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Late_Peter_Cook
    Poor Sir Norman seems very under-rated today, perhaps because, unlike say, the Carry On movies, his films can’t be seen as being “camp” or “ironic” and it will never be fashionable to like him.

    Norman today is held in very high esteem throughout the third world, because they have yet to discover how much cinema and the world has changed and sometimes changed for the worst. I live in the Philippines and hardly anyone has ever heard or seen a Norman Wisdom film, but when I show them to my family or friends, laughter fills the house. Slapstick in the UK has gone, long gone, because of over exposure to action movies. Comedy movies were here long before action movies. Black humour seems to be in the in thing, it's not a bad thing, but black humour has difficulty transfering to other parts of the world.



    The Early Bird is a classic of slapstick comedy, so well performed that it cannot and will never be bettered. One of my earliest memories of watching Norman was on Sunday Night At the London Palladium where he performed a sketch with one of the greatest entertainers the like the world will never see again, Sir Bruce Forsyth, "All Right my Love", where they were decorating a room and all hell was breaking loose. The timing was perfect and not only my side, but the sides of the audience were splitting with laughter and all this was done without a word being spoken. Looks spoke volumes and thats sadly missing today.



    I recently bought a book called "1001 Movies To See Before You Die" and there is no mention of the legend that is Norman Wisdom, and why. It was written by a yank, and yet only one is item dedicated to another legend, Peter Sellers and its not "I'm All Right Jack' or even "The Pink Panther", it was for "Being There" a movie the Americans loved, I think if they watched it now it might remind them of who is in charge at the White House, I wanted to be rude here but thought against it, George W. "Chance the Gardner" Bush. As a movie buff I want my movie buds to be tickled by every genre, but comedy, especially comedy well performed keeps us laughing and keeps us young. And that's what Sir Norman will always do best.



    Maybe a book entitled "1001 British Movies To See Before You Die" should be written. Now there's a thought!



    _____________________________

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    Poll everyone on this forum what they consider to be the 1001 British Movies to see, and I will guarantee they will all be different. And Wisdom will probably be missing from some lists. To say none of his films were listed in the book you bought because it was written by a "yank" misses the point.

    I'll wager there are thousands of Americans who would include his work - it's all subjective.

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