23 August 2012 | dglink
The irrepressible Norman Wisdom goes "Up in the World" from poster hanger to window washer at a lavish estate, and the estate is lavish indeed as the film's exteriors were shot at the magnificent Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. Norman again tangles with his old nemesis, Jerry Desmonde as the estate manager, and finds a new foil in a spoiled young heir, Michael Caridia. Although Norman never falters, the film does. An extended soccer match wears on, and an involved kidnapping plot has few gags. However, the finale's Marx-Brothers-like mayhem leaves an elegant hall in shambles, as befitting the ever-bumbling Mr. Wisdom.
"Up in the World" is formula Norman, which is not all bad. Norman is fired over and over; he sings the title song, one of his own composing; and he falls for a young housemaid, who is in the mold of the young ladies Norman always falls for. Michael Ward, who played a fussy photographer in "Man of the Moment," amusingly returns as a fussy uncle here, and Lionel Jeffries pops up in a funny cameo. Mr. Wisdom never lets us down; whether dangling from a window, fooling around in a queue, or doing battle with Jerry Desmonde, his comic talents are pitch perfect. If only the movie had been worthy of him. However, lesser Wisdom is better than no Wisdom, and "Up in the World," while not a great classic, is acceptably entertaining.