Sunday, 17 October 2010

ON THE BEAT (1962)

Increasingly in recent years, old English films in black and white have become like comfort food for me. It is the simple pleasure of nostalgia - of seeing the world I grew up in. ON THE BEAT was released in 1962, the year that I left school and started work. By that time I felt I had outgrown the comedies of Norman Wisdom which I had enjoyed as a child. Norman's recent death spurred me to see at least one of his films again and by sheer luck it turned out to be ON THE BEAT which was transmitted as a tribute to Sir Norman. And what a tribute! Norman's style of clowning has gone out of fashion with the public and was never really in fashion with the highbrow critics but I suspect that now he has gone his comedy legacy will be re-evaluated and rehabilitated much as Benny Hill's has been. Of the films of Norman's that I have seen ON THE BEAT is easily the best and any doubt that he was one of the greatest British clowns must vanish after seeing it. The film is genuinely funny, highly inventive and a perfect showcase for Norman's many talents (as a physical clown he is in the first order) and as a plus the film features a dazzling array of great British character actors - I can't remember when I've seen Raymond Huntley having so much fun and to see David Lodge trying to teach Norman to do a mincing walk is a sheer joy. The long chase scene involving a veritable army of police constables is equal to anything done by The Keystone Kops. It's a police comedy with Norman in a dual role as police wannabe and an Italian gangster and for once his "little chap" pathos which somewhat marred his films is played down to an acceptable level and he doesn't get to sing (thankfully, in my opinion). It's a classic. Rating ****

View the entire film by clicking this link : Norman Wisdom in ON THE BEAT


wellyousaythat© said...

I always thought this film was called Spare a copper when I was a kid! I also thought that I could get into X Films by employing Normans 'stilts/overcoat' tactic.
It's my favourite of Normans

Cerpts said...

Wrong country and wrong time period. But nevertheless I've loved all the British films of this era I've seen. Just goes to show there's more than nostalgia going on here; there's actual quality!