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  Just My Luck The Gambler
Year: 1957
Director: John Paddy Carstairs
Stars: Norman Wisdom, Margaret Rutherford, Jill Dixon, Leslie Phillips, Delphi Lawrence, Joan Sims, Edward Chapman, Peter Copley, Vic Wise, Marjorie Rhodes, Michael Ward, Marianne Stone, Felix Felton, Michael Brennan, Cyril Chamberlain, Robin Bailey, Bill Fraser
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Norman Hackett (Norman Wisdom) works as a jeweller's assistant in a London department store, and harbours a wish to buy one of the necklaces himself - not to wear, but to give to the woman in the shop across the street, who he often sees window dressing and has become quite smitten with, waving to her at every opportunity from his workshop. But there's not much chance that he could afford something that pricey on his meagre wages, until he happens to meet a small business of bookmakers which gives him an idea...

Wisdom was well into his era of stardom and hit comedies by the time he made Just My Luck, which was neither the worst nor the best of them, but kept his name in the public's consciousness by pretty much tending to his act as he ever had, with the much put-upon character who audiences enjoyed prevailing against the others who normally held sway over his modest life. This time around it was the racetrack that took up most of the plot, as he was persuaded by dodgy turf accountants Leslie Phillips and Peter Copley to place an accumulator bet on one jockey.

Norman hopes that he will make enough cash to buy the necklace and win the heart of the girl across the street, who is called Anne (Jill Dixon), but he quickly works out that he can make even more than that should his chosen jockey win every race in his bet. The credits say this was based on an "anecdote", which is exactly what it looks like, an item of wish fulfilment for the nation's gamblers which happened to star Wisdom, so your basic tall tale about winning big on the gee-gees is adorned with typical bits of slapstick business that his fans would expect to see from him, though this union is not necessarily a smooth one.

Really it should have been someone like Sid James, no stranger to the racetrack, in the lead role, but as it is Wisdom provides a way in to the rather dense world of betting, as he must have every stage of the plot explained to him so he can progress further. The stuff that occurs away from the track is something he could have performed in his sleep by this time, with a selection of overbearing characters ordering him about, from his boss (Edward Chapman, oddly not called Mister Grimsdale but then Norman doesn't get much of a chance to shout his name anyway) to his mother (Marjorie Rhodes) who keeps him under her thumb.

This is due to his absent father frittering away their money through gambling, so the last thing she wants is for her son to follow in his footsteps, which is of course precisely what he is in danger of doing. There was a decent cast backing Wisdom up, with Joan Sims as the girl next door who is more interested in him than he is in her, though they still go to the cinema together (mainly so Norman can get the pound he needs for the bet), and Margaret Rutherford appearing as an animal-loving horse owner, putting on a dodgy Irish accent to act as the fairy godmother the plot needs for its happy ending. There are bright spots, such as the sequence where our hero is carted off to hospital because it's believed he's swallowed a bottle of aspirin, then an actual bottle - he's really only fainted - and sentiment is generally kept to acceptable levels, making Just My Luck fair entertainment. Music by Philip Green.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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