Norman's Passing Time and so is Mr. Grimsdale
Whilst the third movie to see Norman Wisdom play Norman Pitkin it was the second of the three where he starred alongside Edward Chapman as Mr. Grimsdale. Now in a way "A Stitch in Time" is the perfect example of what was so good about Norman Wisdom but also what was kind of bad about his movies, yes I did say bad. Now ironically the good and bad is sort of the same thing because "A Stitch in Time" is 90 minutes of Norman Wisdom clowning around and Wisdom's slapstick timing is spot on but despite there being other characters it is basically 90 minutes of Wisdom clowning around and you sort of long for a bit of variation. It's still entertaining with many a comedy scene from Norman dressed as a nurse to a comedy routine with the Salvation Army marching band being still well known.
When an armed robber (Johnny Briggs) tries to hold up Grimsdale's butchers Norman (Norman Wisdom - On the Beat) suggests to Mr. Grimsdale (Edward Chapman) he hides his beloved gold watch in his mouth, unfortunately he swallows it and Mr. Grimsdale quite literally ends up passing time in hospital. It is whilst visiting his boss in hospital that Norman not only falls foul of the hospital administrators when he causes chaos but he also befriends a young orphan girl called Lindy (Lucy Appleby) who won't speak. Finding himself banned from the hospital Norman is determined to return to see Lindy and also the pretty Nurse Haskell (Jeanette Sterke).
So story wise well despite an intro which features a fun appearance from Johnny Briggs as the armed robber and then a slapstick routine as Norman tries to help get Mr. Grimsdale on a stretcher and into the ambulance is really all about Norman being banned from hospital and trying to see Lindy. That is it and what that means is that we have a series of mad cap schemes to get back in to hospital under the noses of the administrators who have banned him. In one way it is what you expect because you don't expect a clever storyline but it is also a little weak and part of the reason why "A Stitch in Time" ends up feeling a bit monotonous and in need of some variation.
But whilst slim on storyline it is unsurprisingly chock full of gags from a witty opening which sees Norman looking like a doctor when chopping meat to a skit surrounding trainee dentists. But this is where I have issues with "A Stitch in Time" because whilst we have other characters including Mr. Grimsdale it ends up feeling like 90 minutes of Norman Wisdom in various skits. It for me needed some variation, someone else to dominate a comical scene once in a while because whilst there are some great Norman Wisdom moments it does end up feeling like Norman just acting the fool over and over again without it ever going anywhere.
It is a shame because once again "A Stitch in Time" highlights what an incredible talent Norman Wisdom was; a comic, dancer, stuntman and a guy you sense enjoyed making people laugh. But because there is not enough variation and a lot of just general fooling around it does become too much general Norman Wisdom and not enough interaction with others. Having said that Edward Chapman is hilarious when it comes to the passing time scenes and whilst only a small part Johnny Briggs looks sharp as an armed robber.
What this all boils down to is that "A Stitch in Time" is still a fun Norman Wisdom movie but one which is undone by the writing because it relies too heavily on Norman just acting the fool and not giving it enough variation to keep your attention.