Man of the Moment (1955 film)

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Man of the Moment
"Man of the Moment" (1955 film).jpg
Directed by John Paddy Carstairs
Written by
Produced by Hugh Stewart
Earl St John
Cinematography Jack E. Cox
Edited byJohn Shirley
Music by Philip Green
Distributed byRank Film Distributors
Release date
  • 24 November 1955 (1955-11-24)(UK)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Man of the Moment is a 1955 British comedy film starring Norman Wisdom, Belinda Lee, Lana Morris and Jerry Desmonde. [1] The film includes songs sung by the Beverley Sisters, including "Dreams for Sale" (Arthur Groves, Peter Carroll), "Beware" (Norman Wisdom), "Yodelee Yodelay", and "Man of the Moment" (Jack Fishman). [2]



Norman, a file clerk in the (fictional) British Ministry of Overseas Affairs, becomes a British delegate to a diplomatic conference in Geneva, as there is no one else available. He accidentally votes against a motion that would allow intervention in the affairs of the (fictional) peaceful Pacific island nation of Tawaki. This earns him the gratitude of the Queen of Tawaki, who leaves all matters concerning her nation's future in the hands of 'Honourable Sir Norman'.

The furious governments, including America, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, which want to establish a military base on one of Tawaki's outlying islands, shower honours on Norman to persuade him to influence the Queen in their favour. One government sends a glamorous film star to seduce him before killing him, but fails in the attempt. He is then sent a parcel bomb, but he evades it. Finally, they kidnap his new girlfriend Penny. Norman chases the thugs through BBC studios, causing chaos in programmes being transmitted live.

Finally, Norman, now apparently an Ambassador, travels to Tawaki. As he addresses the Queen, a volcanic eruption completely destroys the island the governments had designs on.



The television programmes interrupted by Norman chasing the thugs who kidnapped Penny comprise


It was Norman Wisdom's third film. Producer Hugh Stewart reportedly gave up the chance to make A Town Like Alice (1956) to do the film. [3] Stewart went on to work a numbner of times with Wisdom. [4] It was one of several comedies Lee made at Rank. [5]

Critical reception

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "Norman Wisdom's third film has the advantages of a much better story and a slightly better script than his previous two. It is still overladen with an overbearing superfluity of unrestrained, frantic incident, which gives the comedian no chance at all to display his qualities in any sort of repose. There is, too, an increasing use of the near-pathological comedy of embarrassment – " shame-dreams, as it were, in which Wisdom is either wrongly dressed or undressed in the middle of a disapproving gathering; or makes a fool of himself in front of an audience; or is deliberately embarrassed by stronger people. At times, indeed, Wisdom's world seems entirely peopled by the more or less malicious; even to the good characters he has to prove his better qualities – to Penny by giving away an ice-cream to some children; to the Tawakians by (involuntarily) doing them a service. Such a mean world is not good for comedy; and this is perhaps the reason why every comic weapon must be applied so frantically. Between the consequent exhaustion and embarrassment, it is easy to overlook the moments of real comedy; but there are enough to show that, given opportunity and discipline, Wisdom might still be a good film clown agyels" [6]

TV Guide noted, "some fine slapstick moments, including a television studio chase that interrupts several programs." [2]

David Parkinson gave the film three out of five stars in the Radio Times , writing, "Norman Wisdom is almost at the peak of his powers in this typically silly comedy, in which, as ever, slapstick and sentiment jostle for centre stage ... Although we usually think of Wisdom as a bashful bungler, he also did a nice line in cockiness, and it's surprisingly amusing to watch Whitehall and Geneva dance to his tune. Jerry Desmonde again provides supreme support as the stooge." [7]

Box Office

The film was a huge hit in Hungary with over two million of the population of ten million going to see it. [8] According to Kinematograph Weekly it was a "money maker" at the British box office in 1955. [9]

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  1. "Man of the Moment". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  2. 1 2 "Man Of The Moment Review". Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  3. "Star Dust". The Mirror . Vol. 3, no. 1791. Western Australia. 24 September 1955. p. 12. Retrieved 8 August 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Hugh Stewart". British Entertainment History Project. 22 November 1989.
  5. Vagg, Stephen (7 September 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.
  6. "Man of the Moment". The Monthly Film Bulletin . 22 (252): 149. 1 January 1955 via ProQuest.
  7. "Man of the Moment | Film review and movie reviews". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  8. "British comedies are the big attraction". Kine Weekly. 15 June 1961. p. 9.
  9. "Other Money Makers of 1955". Kinematograph Weekly. 15 December 1955. p. 5.