Norman Pitkin (Norman Wisdom) is the assistant to Mr Grimsdale (Edward Chapman) the town butcher, and he thinks he getting the hang of the meat business. Perhaps one day he'll have a gold watch like his boss, awarded for excellence in his profession, but today an unexpected development occurs when an armed robber (Johnny Briggs) enters the shop and begins brandishing a gun at them, leaving them in a corner with their hands up, though Amy (Patsy Rowlands), the other assistant, faints dead away. While the robber has trouble with the till, Mr Grimsdale hides the watch in his mouth...
Not the greatest of ideas, but at least it prevented the timepiece being stolen, as it's difficult to steal a watch when it's in the stomach of the owner. Such was the sense of humour for A Stitch in Time, another hit comedy for Norman Wisdom, and carrying on much as before with his mixture of slapstick, near-anarchical mayhem, and pathos, the latter of which proved a sticking point for those who were baffled at the comedian's huge popularity. Although there was undeniably an attempt at tearjerking what with a secondary character introduced as a little orphan girl (Lucy Appleby) who has lost both her parents in a plane crash, most of this concerned itself with the laughs.
As with the Carry Ons, there had to be a setting for Norman to wreak his havoc in, and that was the familiar location for much British comedy, a hospital. Not that Pitkin gets sick, well not until the very end anyway, it's just that he accompanies Mr Grimsdale to the hospital when it becomes clear that watch is stuck inside his boss, and he's determined to help no matter how much of a hindrance he turns out to be. Plenty of well-kent faces appeared here, if you watched a lot of vintage British movies anyway, and most of them getting to pull their best exasperated expressions in the face of Wisdom unintentionally winding their characters up to well nigh superhuman degrees of annoyance.
Therefore Glyn Houston was a St John Ambulance man who barely speaks a word, but does get a twitch in Inspector Dreyfuss style whenever Pitkin appears, but it was regular Wisdom stooge Jerry Desmonde who proved the most obvious foil to his well-meaning disasters, as he played Sir Hector, the head of the hospital and keen to find funding from visiting nobility in Lady Brinkley (Jill Melford) who manages to cross paths with Pitkin with unfortunate regularity: not only does he run her over in a mechanical trolley, but he pulls one of her teeth out when posing as a dental student. Quite how he gets into these ridiculous situations is best not worried over, it was enough to know it was all for a laugh.
As for that little girl, she is the reason for Pitkin's continual returning to the hospital because he is the only one who can rouse her from her shock-induced state, and gives her that watch as a gift (it's well seen she doesn't know where it's been, or indeed how it came back out). But with Sir Hector demanding he leave the premises and never come back, Norman has to devise increasingly ludicrous ways of defying him, such as the famous sequence where he tries to become an ambulanceman and ends up the test subject, wrapped in bandages and hanging onto an ambulance as it careers through the streets: it's only too fitting Wisdom becomes a cartoon at the climax of this scene, because a living cartoon was what he often was. More bizarrely he also dresses up as a nurse as a disguise, learning what sexual harrassment is and getting chatted up by an oblivious Sir Hector. But it was all done with its heart in the right place, and raised chuckles and chortles as intended. Music by Philip Green.