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Follow a Star (1959)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Follow a Star (1959)
35mm, 104 min, black & white
DirectorRobert Asher
Production CompanyRank Film Productions
ProducerHugh Stewart
ScreenplayJack Davies
 Henry Blyth
 Norman Wisdom
CinematographyJack Asher

Cast: Norman Wisdom (Norman Truscott); June Laverick (Judy); Jerry Desmonde (Vernon Carew); Hattie Jacques (Dymphna Dobson); John Le Mesurier (Birkett)

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Scheming singer Vernon Carew attempts to use Norman Truscott's voice to relaunch his recording career.

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Follow A Star (1959), the last film of Norman Wisdom's original contract with Rank, was his first with Robert Asher as director. Asher was the obvious choice to succeed John Paddy Carstairs: he was already familiar with Wisdom's style and working methods, having previously served as assistant director on One Good Turn (1954) and Man Of The Moment (1955). Follow A Star was Asher's confident directorial debut; its success meant that he continued to work closely with the comedian, directing the next five Wisdom features.

Responding to complaints from audiences that there had not been enough music in The Square Peg, Follow A Star was built around Norman's singing, and featured five songs. To a large extent, it maintained the comic impetus of the preceding film, only failing towards the end with an overblown performance number, 'You Deserve A Medal For That'. Here, Norman, backed by an all-male chorus in an uncharacteristic musical whimsy more suitable for a college revue, teeters on the brink of objectionable self-indulgence.

Wisdom is supported by a well-written script and the usual strong supporting cast. Jerry Desmonde excels as an ageing crooner, and is ably assisted by Eddie Leslie (who also wrote with Wisdom and appeared with him on stage), as his shifty agent. After her great performance in The Square Peg, Hattie Jacques appears here in the film's funniest and most memorable scene, as Norman's indefatigable, long suffering music tutor, sternly struggling with her most difficult student.

The recurrent problem of incorporating a believable romantic subplot into Norman's world, and one which was never entirely satisfactorily resolved, is narratively sidestepped here by providing him with an established girlfriend at the beginning of the film. Judy, well played by June Laverick, is perhaps the best-realised of Norman's onscreen girlfriends, with the couple seeming to share a genuine affinity towards each other; and, for perhaps the first time, Wisdom finds the right balance between comedy and sentiment.

Vic Pratt

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Video Clips
1. Norman learns to sing (4:00)
2. Norman meets his idol (3:35)
3. Vernon Carew's party (3:44)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Jacques, Hattie (1922-1980)
Le Mesurier, John (1912-1983)
Tafler, Sydney (1916-79)
Wisdom, Norman (1915-2010)