Trouble in Store (1953)

  • Year: 1953
  • Released: 12 Jan 1955
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Adwords: Won 1 BAFTA Award1 win total
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p,
  • Language: English, German
  • MPA Rating: Not Rated
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Runtime: 85 min
  • Writer: John Paddy Carstairs, Maurice Cowan, Ted Willis
  • Director: John Paddy Carstairs
  • Cast: Norman Wisdom, Margaret Rutherford, Moira Lister
  • Keywords:
71% – Critics
71% – Audience

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Trouble in Store Movie Reviews

“Makes you good to feel alive”

It’s often said you have to be English to understand Norman Wisdom’s humour – Albanians would probably agree, the same as Russians would’ve done about George Formby. The fact is he’s always appealed to certain parts of the population, usually kids or people with defiantly unsophisticated humour like me. In his films I cringe at the obligatory mawkish bad bits but overall have always got more out than I put in, apart from his last.

This was his first big effort: he plays lowly Norman in the stockroom at a big department store under the control of new broom Jerry Desmonde and intent on winning the love of the girl on the record counter. There’s various adventures along the way, many firings and re-hirings and a tiny sub-plot involving a gang of what turned out to be extremely cartoony robbers, but basically it’s a one man show. However if you already know that Norman isn’t your bag, try this one solely for the beautiful performances by the ever frothing Desmonde up against Wisdom for the first time, and regal Margaret Rutherford as an expert shoplifter in a fantastic feathered hat. Favourite bits: the smashing window dressing scene; Norman’s first explosive encounter with Desmonde; the climactic violent gunfight in front of an audience. Norman’s most famous song is here too: Don’t Laugh At Me ‘Cause I’m A Fool; in 2008 UK BBC broadcast an otherwise interesting programme on him at 92 years old with Alzheimer’s disease setting in with that precise aim in mind. I do hope no one takes the mickey out of those particular sensitive documentary makers if they ever get old and in the way too.

Recommended as I’ve always liked Norman’s films – to a point – but then again maybe my funny bone froze at age 11.

It’s a joy

I grew up watching this film, and his others, and even though I’d class The Square Peg as my favourite, I’d class trouble in store as one of the best. Watching it as an adult I still adore the innocent, sweet humour, but I also loved the more feeling side of it when he started singing. Performances vary a little it’s fair to say, for me though the best of them is Margaret Rutherford, she is absolutely joyous as the eccentric, but slightly adorable thief. Her spree is a terrific scene, so funny, as is the the window display scene.

I had forgotten how nimble and fit Wisdom was, such a talented all rounder, he dazzles here.

I adore this film, and not just for the sake of nostalgia, 9/10.

TROUBLE IN STORE (John Paddy Carstairs, 1953) **1/2

Norman Wisdom’s brand of comedy is an acquired taste; for those unfamiliar with his particular shtick, he’s basically the British counterpart to Jerry Lewis – with all that it entails! I had watched a few of his films over the years but it’d been some time since then, so I decided to rent a 12-DVD Box Set (on Region 2) available from my local outlet – which, actually, I did mainly for my father’s sake who used to lap his films up…and is already halfway into the collection as I write this!

Anyway, his debut feature is pleasant enough and is actually considered by many to be his best vehicle (though still featuring a couple of sentimental songs). In itself, simple-minded but occasionally inventive (particularly the window-dressing ‘competition’, the “sale day” rush and the climactic rounding-up of the bad guys) and with a premise that’s seen service in countless ‘comedian’ films – Charlie Chaplin’s short THE FLOORWALKER (1917) and again later in MODERN TIMES (1936), Harold Lloyd’s SAFETY LAST (1923), The Marx Bros.’ THE BIG STORE (1941) and Jerry Lewis himself in WHO’S MINDING THE STORE? (1963). Here the star is nicely abetted by Jerry Desmonde as his flustered boss (often serving as the brunt of Wisdom’s accident-prone gags) and Margaret Rutherford as a charming elderly shoplifter.