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TROUBLE IN STORE (director/writer: John Paddy Carstairs; screenwriters: Maurice Cowan/Jill Craigie/Ted Willis; cinematographer: Ernest Steward; editors: Geoffrey Foot/Peter Seabourne; music: Mischa Spoliansky; cast: Norman Wisdom (Norman), Moira Lister (Peggy Drew), Megs Jenkins (Miss Gibson), Jerry Desmonde (Augustus Freeman), Margaret Rutherford (Miss Bacon), Lana Morris (Sally Wilson), Derek Bond (Gerald), Joan Sims (Edna), Eddie Leslie (Bill), Michael Ward (Willy); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Maurice Cowan/Earl St. John; Republic Pictures; 1953-UK)
“British slapstick comedy that marks the film debut of music-hall comedian Norman Wisdom.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

British slapstick comedy that marks the film debut of music-hall comedian Norman Wisdom. The Jerry Lewis-like comedy was a critical and commercial success and established the diminutive Wisdom as the heir to George Formby. It’s considered to be his best film and began a long successful run of comedies that Wisdom made for Rank Pictures. Director John Paddy Carstairs (“Dancing With Crime”/”Jumping For Joy”/”Man of the Moment”) sets it almost entirely in a large London department store.

Bumbling stockboy Norman (Norman Wisdom) has ambitions to be a window dresser but is immediately fired by the new boss Augustus Freeman (Jerry Desmonde) for invading his office. The running gag is that Norman keeps getting fired for causing chaos and then rehired for doing something uncalled for that was helpful to the store. It all leads to Norman capturing a gang of crooks robbing the department store on its big sale day. The set piece takes place in the toy department, where the crooks use real guns while Norman uses a cap pistol to capture the baddies.

Margaret Rutherford is funny as the shoplifter. Lana Morris plays the sweet sales clerk in the record department that Norman has a crush on. Moira Lister is the oily executive who arranges the store robbery with her womanizing gangster boyfriend (Derek Bond).

It’s all very genial and pedestrian, filled with sight gags and the most basic comedy routines. The most generous thing I can say about it, is that I didn’t hate it.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”