[sorry, kids, sleep got the best of me before I could post last night. Also, apologies in advance if I mess up while experimenting with the More… tag.
Just My Luck (John Paddy Carstairs, 1957)
I know I’m messing with timeframes here, but I enjoy doing that sort of thing. Think of Just My Luck as a British version of Let It Ride, the wonderful 1989 Richard Dreyfuss comedy, save that Norman Wisdom ain’t no Richard Dreyfuss (and he doesn’t have a straight man at all, let alone one as funny as David Johansen). But that aside, if you’re a fan of Wisdom’s particular brand of comedy, this one will do the trick for you as well as anything.
Plot: Wisdom, who passed away in 2010 at the age of ninety-five, plays Norman Hackett, a jewelry-store apprentice with a crush on a window dresser (Witchcraft‘s Jill Dixon) who works in the shop across the street, an overbearing mother (Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines‘ Marjorie Rhodes), who keeps trying to set him up with obnoxious girl-next-door Phoebe (Joan Sims from the Carry On franchise), and a boss (Murder!‘s Edward Chapman) who could be her twin, but male. He’s saving up to buy a pendant for the window dresser, when it’s bought by Richard Lumb (Empire of the Sun‘s Leslie Phillips), a flush bookmaker, for his secretary Miss Daviot (Bunny Lake Is Missing‘s Delphi Lawrence). Norman is tasked to deliver the pendant, and when he gets there, gets to talking to Miss Daviot about her job; like most first-time punters, he’s drawn to the idea of the accumulator (in America, if you’re a horseplayer, think of it as a version of the Pick Six), where you start with one bet and let it ride. He ends up planning to throw a pound on an accumulator covering every horse star jockey Eddie Diamond rides for the last three days of the Goodwood meet. We then launch into about a twenty-minute extended skit of Norman trying to scare up a pound…
I gotta say, I have a hard time believing some of this stuff was funny even in 1957 (“I was hoping to buy it for someone.” “Your girlfriend?” “Well, I haven’t met her yet…”), but it has its moments, and the comedy is of the gentle kind, rather than the mean-spirited, which kicks it up a couple of notches in my book. Not something I would rush to watch again, but I don’t regret having spent the time. ** ½
The full film, courtesy The Retro Channel.