A Stitch In Time/Just My Luck Review
Just My Luck
Norman Wisdom is a lowly member of staff in a jewelers who still lives with his mother (Marjorie Rhodes) and is stuck in a loveless relationship with Phoebe (Joan Sims). By day, he contents himself with looking out his window to the shop opposite where Anne (Jill Dixon) works who he admires from afar. Norman's job is one without a future, working for Mr Stoneway (Edward Chapman, Mr Grimsdale by another name) but when a bookmakers lets him into the secret of betting accumulators, he can't help himself as this will allow him to make some easy money, buy a diamond pendant for Anne and set his life on the road to success. His problem, however, is coming up with the £1 he needs to get started and that the bookmakers he uses - Weaver & Lumb, played by Peter Copley and Leslie Philips - are on the bread line themselves and could not afford to pay out even if Norman wins. Against the backdrop of Goodwood, can Norman find love, money and a future?
Just My Luck is rather unfairly criticised. By no means is it a great film, the set up is rather traditional, a few of the comic situations go on too long and little in the first hour is particularly surprising but in spite of it all, Just My Luck really works rather well. To be fair, little of this is actually to do with Norman Wisdom but a great supporting cast - Edward Chapman is always good as the gruff superior but Peter Copley and Leslie Philips (one of the all-time great British comedy actors) are a great pairing as the crooked bookmakers. Back at his home, Joan Sims has a good role as does Marjorie Rhodes as Norman's mother.
In the last thirty minutes, though, the film becomes quite surreal as Norman attempts to cash in before the last race in the accumulator is run. On his way, he finally gets to speak to Anne on a crowded tube train before a walk in the park, he is hospitalised, visits a private zoo, attempts to fatten up a jockey and gets stuck in a steam box, all of which are finally brought to a conclusion with a great ending and a surprise appearance by a special guest. Certainly, the last third of the film tends to lift it somewhat but the link to it is handled quite badly - the film just picks up pace without any real growth. Still, it ends well in a quite surprising manner.
What really makes the film, however, is Delphi Lawrence as Miss Daviot, the assistant at Weaver & Lumb who watches over Norman throughout, from telling him how accumulators work, to handling his £1 to being there when Norman, and Leslie Philips, need her. It's a great role, completely without romantic attachment but showing that she is smarter and more capable than all the men in her life. It's a pity she didn't make more regular appearances in other Norman Wisdom films but it makes her appearance here all the better.
The picture has been transferred in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and looks fine. The print is clean, sharp and the contrast is good.
Trailer (3m43s, 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic, Mono): This takes the form of an informal introduction by Norman Wisdom on the set of the film only to find he hasn't been listed on the cast. The trailer then follows Norman as he tries to find out what happened to his starring role, followed by a brief series of highlights.
A Stitch In Time
Norman Wisdom stars once again as the troublesome Norman Pitkin, a delivery boy who works in Mr Grimsdale's butchers shop. During a hold-up at the shop (by Johnny Briggs, more popularly known as Mike Baldwin), Norman attempts to hide Grimsdale's gold watch by placing it in his mouth. Grimsdale, however, swallows the watch as the burglar fires a gunshot before fleeing and is admitted to hospital in an attempt to recover the watch. Once at the hospital, Norman causes his usual amount of chaos before meeting a young girl, Lindy Walker (Lucy Appleby) who has failed to recover from the shock of seeing her parents die in a plane crash. Norman and Mr Grimsdale vow to assist Lindy and to train as doctors, nurses, paramedics or anything just so long they can be involved in the medical profession. Of course, their efforts are hampered somewhat when Sir Hector Hardcastle (Jerry Desmonde) bans them from the hospital. Still, the pair are not to be outdone and simply must try harder to achieve their goal.
This was Norman Wisdom's last film in black and white and also his last major success at the box office. It is hard to imagine just how successful these comedies were but A Stitch In Time held its own when up against From Russia With Love, both released in 1963. Still, his run of good fortune simply couldn't last forever and following this film, it was beginning to end. It was, however, a good run and this is one of his better Pitkin comedies.
A Stitch In Time has been transferred non-anamorphically in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with some cheap effects rather ruining the overall look of the film.
Feature Length Commentary: Along with Robert Ross, Norman Wisdom contributes a commentary on the film. This sounded very promising but he appears much more interested in watching the film than talking about it. To be fair, he does talk about the other actors, his work alongside Jerry Desmonde and Edward Chapman and the development of his film comedy but the whole thing is rather dry. Clearly age has dimmed Norman Wisdom's exuberance a bit and the commentary is not as essential as it should be as a result.
Trailer (2m28s, 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic, 2.0 Mono): As with most of the other films in this set, this trailer is simply a quick run through comedy highlights from A Stitch In Time
Both films have been transferred with their original Mono soundtracks intact but, being honest, stereo, Pro-Logic or 5.1 remixes would have been fairly redundant. Both soundtracks are clean, free of noise and subtitles are only available in English.