The Early Bird (1965)
Norman's Milking It
Norman Wisdom's "The Early Bird" starts with a scene at Grimsdale's Dairy as the alarm clock goes off and a half awake Norman gets up, makes a pot of tea and takes it back up to his bedroom. It is a typical Norman Wisdom scene full of amusing slapstick from tripping on stairs to bed swapping with Mr. Grimsdale but it is also typical in the fact it goes on and on and on. That is the trouble with "The Early Bird", which was Norman Wisdom's first colour movie, as whilst there are some fun gags many of them go on far too long and the actual story of Grimsdale Dairies battling the big boys and their dirty tricks ends up an after thought.
Grimsdale Dairy has been open for years passed on from father to son and now Mr. Grimsdale (Edward Chapman) runs it with the help of Norman Pitkin (Norman Wisdom). The trouble is that Consolidated Dairies have made a move for their patch and are using dirty tricks to try and get them to sell up from smashing their bottles to lacing their delivery horse's apples with drugs. That doesn't stop Norman battling on even if Mr. Grimsdale is prepared to sell out.
So as was typical with Norman Wisdom movies, whilst "The Early Bird" has this fun storyline about a little dairy taking on the big boys it ends up playing second fiddle to all the gags. And to be honest that is a shame because whilst we get some humour from Norman's run ins with a rival milkman to chaos at the Consolidated Dairies building when Norman shows up it never really exploits the David and Goliath story fully.
What that means it that the slapstick takes precedence which in fairness is the reason why you watch a Norman Wisdom movie. And there are some fun gags going on in "The Early Bird" with Norman showing again what a supreme talent he was for making visual gags and prat falls look so simple. But the trouble is that all too often these gags were done to the point that they stopped being funny such as the opening scene about waking up and making a pot of tea. Tripping on the stairs once is funny, it is also funny when someone else does it but then to do it again and again and it loses something. It is a shame because watching Norman Wisdom is a joy but all too often that joy is spoilt by writers and directors drawing a joke out too long.
And to be honest that is really it because once again "The Early Bird" sees Norman Wisdom paired up with some of his regular co-stars such as Edward Chapman as Mr. Grimsdale and Jerry Desmonde as Mr. Hunter all of who put in their usual solid performances. Add to that some attractive co-stars such as Penny Morrell and Imogen Hassall as well as the fun Paddie O'Neil and again it is pretty typical.
What this all boils down to is that "The Early Bird" is a 100% typical Norman Wisdom comedy which whilst still fun does suffer from gags which go on far too long, beyond the point of being funny.
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