Norman Wisdom is a British comedian whose films would regularly be shown on 1970's Saturday afternoon TV – films such as Trouble in Store (1953), The Square Peg (1959) or A Stitch in Time (1963). These slapstick comedies would be punctuated with his lop-sided grin, falling over, being unable to complete a joke without bursting into laughter or shouting his trademark "MR GRIMSDALE!!!” This would be the staple Saturday afternoon diet for most 1970’s kids like me, along with Birds Eye Fish Fingers and Smash, the instant mash potato with the advertising catchphrase 'For Mash Get Smash'.
Middle-aged and bored, Timothy Bartlett’s life is as predictable as his job – feed the fish, say ‘hello’ to the kids, greet his wife who is dressed in curlers. But things are about to change when Timothy’s boss has a heart-attack and tells Timothy that he must go instead of him to a banking executive's conference in the seaside town of Southport.
With his pajamas and sandwiches packed, Timothy drives off to the conference, but on the way he sees two pretty hippy chicks beside the road thumbing for a lift and so stops to pick them up. They are Nikki (Sally Geeson) and Meg (Sarah Atkinson), and it isn’t long before the two girls are teasing and flirting with the shy Timothy.
At the conference Timothy is out of his depth with the pompousness and cliqueyness of the other attendees and so goes out that evening alone. Wandering around the streets, he finds a hip-swinging nightclub and enters. The place is swinging to a psychedelic band, The Pretty Things and everyone is dressed in their finest psychedelic wardrobe. The middle-aged Timothy is out of place until he spies Nikki and joins her. In her company again he is driven to ecstasy as he freaks-out to the band and when all has finished, Nikki blatantly asks if she can return to his hotel room for some sex.
What follows is a number of gags as he tries to smuggle her into the hotel and his room. From there on a relationship begins to develop as Timothy forgets his family and his middle-age life and bursts forth with excitement for free love with Nikki.
Nikki’s friend Meg warns Timothy to not fall in love with Meg because eventually she will move on, which eventually does happen, but not before Timothy has restyled himself in the latest psychedelic outfits. All the while the attendees at the conference watch in bewilderment as this transformation with Timothy takes effect.
With Meg gone, the heart-broken Timothy calls his wife and tells her to get on a plane to join him. In next to no time he helps her to break free of her middle-aged confines and the two relive their youth with free abandonment, but will it last?
This is a good film if you can put up with the occasional lame jokes and slapstick. It stars the young Sally Geeson, who would go on to become a star during the 70’s and early 80’s. Here she is very cute, and it should be noted that there were two versions of this film. The UK version, which I saw, has Sally stripped down to her bra, and then there’s the racier European version, which has supposedly never been released in English language, where she appears topless. Also of note is some great footage of the underrated British band The Pretty Things who do some great songs in the psychedelic nightclub scenes, as well as appearing briefly, although not performing, in one party scene.
Norman Wisdom is on top form here and is great in the conference scenes where his mind is completely side-tracked by his new love before returning totally restyled in his new outfit and full of confidence. The scenes in the nightclub are great, too, when he is literally writhing with ecstasy to the psychedelic sounds and the happening young crowed around him – and this without taking any drugs. Also the scenes where he frolics with Nikki amongst the sand dunes make these scenes quite endearing. The scene in the sand dunes is repeated again when his wife joins him as the two shake off their shackles of middle-age. There are also some serious moments in this film and one thing that can be said about Norman Wisdom after watching this is that he would have made a great straight actor.
Yes, this film has it’s faults, but if you can over-look them, this is a great little film firmly set in the 60‘s love generation psyche which gives it an innocence which couldn’t be repeated now.