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  Press for Time Read All About It
Year: 1966
Director: Robert Asher
Stars: Norman Wisdom, Derek Bond, Angela Browne, Tracey Crisp, Allan Cuthbertson, Noel Dyson, Derek Francis, Peter Jones, David Lodge, Stanley Unwin, Frances White, Michael Balfour, Tony Selby, Michael Bilton, Norman Pitt, Hazel Coppen, Totti Truman Taylor
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Norman Shields (Norman Wisdom) sells newspapers at the underground station near to the Houses of Parliament, and is quite happy to do so, though his family are not quite as impressed. Today, after wrestling with a latest batch of papers, his mother (also Norman Wisdom) appears and tells him that his grandfather (Norman Wisdom again) has sent for him once more; he isn't really interested, but seeing as how the old man is the Prime Minister, he cannot turn him down. He arrives, a little late as usual, and is told that he will be taking a new job more befitting a relative of the leader of the country...

Yes, it was time for Norman Wisdom to get yet another new profession, and this time it was in the newspaper industry, only not a reporter on The London Times, but as one on the lowly local paper of The Tinmouth Times. Actually this was filmed in Teignmouth, with the name changed to a not very well disguised alternative, but the provincial seaside locations proved an attractive setting for what would be Wisdom's final movie in the style that had made him such a huge success. After this, he tried to break into Hollywood, then Broadway, and then ended back in Blighty on television, which was pretty much where he spent the rest of his career.

As such, there is an end of an era sense to Press for Time, with a curious melancholy about the routines; sure, they raise a chuckle, but watching it now it's as if cinemagoers were saying goodbye to a style of comedy that was going out of fashion, making this example a last relic of a bygone age. Wisdom, again co-writing his material, was almost appearing in this as a last hurrah, recognising that tastes were changing, not least because his next two pictures had a more adult flavour to them which, in the case of What's Good for the Goose, did not seem appropriate to him at all. Couple that with a town that is marginally more cheerful than the one where Tony Hancock resided in The Punch and Judy Man, and this was not exactly a laugh riot.

Nevertheless, they didn't trowel the sentiment on too thickly as you might have expected, as for some reason the subject matter was politics - not satire, exactly, but the pettiness of party politics in Britain where it felt as if things got done in spite of the powers that be rather than because of them. You could say that observation has never dated, but this was hitched to the more traditional approach to Norman's comedy, meaning instead of disrupting the army or the police, here he caused chaos in a council meeting, not the most fruitful area for humour you might have thought. Cleverly, though, to sum up the impenetrable nature of the councilors, they hired Stanley Unwin to chatter away in his inimitable fashion as the spokesman.

Seeing him would be reason enough to catch Press for Time, even if it were not Wisdom's final fling in his old manner. There is, of course, female interest in the shape of Eleanor Lampton (Angela Browne), who Norman falls for as his co-reporter on the newspaper, and naturally she is out of his league, though just about tries to let him down gently (yet his confession of love for her is hard to believe). The other instance of that female attention is Liz Corcoran (Frances White), who is the shy, downtrodden daughter of the mayor and takes a shine to our hero, with predictable results - it did come across as unnecessarily cruel to put her character through the beauty contest at the end, however. Still, it does lead to a happy ending of sorts, and there is a scattering of comedy highlights, as with the bus comandeered to chase Norman's stolen bicycle, or getting said bike caught in the overhead lights of the mayor's living room. Not his best, then, but not a waste of time either. Pleasant music by Mike Vickers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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