Black & White comedy had a big effect on the younger version of me. Many youthful hours were wasted away in front of the much maligned set giggling at the escapades of Messrs Hardy, Laurel, Chaplin, Lloyd, The Marx’s and others. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the knee of my Grandmother as we watched Laurel and Hardy, as My Grandmother explained who they were… I would even go so far as to state that I probably would not be writing, or performing, the stuff I do currently if it was not for this introduction to comedy so early in my life.
And then there was the British films, which I remember with the same fondness. Specific memories of George Formby films and the Slapstick filled, little man against the World –
films that featured the true comic talents of Norman Wisdom. (Some films in Colour as well)
Yes Norman Wisdom, who died in his sleep last night aged 95, was someone I enjoyed watching immensely as a youngster and probably would have as an older individual if it wasn’t for his unexplained absence from our TV screens. His films always seemed to be on during early to mid-1980’s, filling a void during the summer holidays. I have a specific memory of one particular film where Norman plays a shy, humble, lovable, put-upon, but gifted everyman, who can only sing if the woman he loves plays the piano. This fact is taken advantage of from an upper-class cad who passes Normans vocal skills off as his own and makes a living falsely as an entertainer. Trying to cure his shyness, Norman goes to a hypnotist who cures him, temporarily. There is a wonderful scene where he eats caviar and tells off a stony faced waiter played by the comically gifted John LeMesurier. Of course this cure doesn’t last and the film ends with Norman being able to sing and who shows the world that the voice has been his all the time.
As I have indicated it has been a while since I saw a Norman Wisdom film, so I do not remember the title of this particular film, but hearing about his death this morning has bought this Childhood memory back along with the enjoyment created. I will find some time to see if I can find the title on Internet movie database. Maybe even a clip on youtube…
RIP Norman Wisdom, you were a true British Clown.
Additional Edit: Isn't modern technology wonderful... Found this with the minimal of fuss. This is the film I mentioned above, it is called, 'Follow a Star'