30 October 2010 | hitchcockthelegend
Whistle at the ready little man.
On the Beat is a Norman Wisdom comedy film directed by Robert Asher. It's the tenth Wisdom picture where he was the lead actor. Plot sees Wisdom as Norman Pitkin who works at Scotland Yard as a car cleaner but harbours dreams of becoming a policeman like his late father. The problem Norman faces is that he is just too small to meet the height requirement to join the service. However, after managing to get himself fired from the car wash job, Norman is given a way into the force on account of his uncanny resemblance to a suspected Italian crime boss who is masquerading as a hair dresser. Thus Norman is required to go undercover as the crime boss. Can he pull it off?
Norman Wisdom, he's Marmite isn't he? On The Beat, to this reviewer at least, is one of Wisdom's best film's. Some of his main collaborators such as Edward Chapman & Jerry Desmonde may be absent, but On the Beat has a real zest for life, an action comedy where at its core is the emotive based dreams of one man.
On The Beat follows in the great traditions of British comedy film's involving the good old British Bobby. Trace a line from Will Hay's brilliant Ask A Policeman in 1939 to Hot Fuzz (2007) and you will find a number of "themed" movies involving the British copper. With film's such as On The Beat and Carry On Constable from two years previously, we get a glimpse of a time when respect and fear of the law was the order of the day. When the copper was there to aid and make the public feel safe, values that sadly today are ever diminishing. With that, as a Brit myself, it's hard not to get caught up with nostalgia; and maybe even feel those pangs of sadness of a time long past. My rating, in that context should be taken in to consideration.
On The Beat is a very British film, it's also a rank and file Norman Wisdom film. One that's filled with the standard set pieces full of vim, vigour and chaos. With one medical on stilts sequence as mirthful as it is near genius. It's, however, unlikely to win over any sceptical older viewers who didn't get Wisdom back in the day. Nor is it a safe recommendation to those venturing for the first time into the works of Marylebone's famous son. But this does hold appeal for those in need of a light hearted pick me up. A harmless piece that zips along, gets in there, and gets the job done. Something that Wisdom, just like his character Pitkin, was want to do. 7/10