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One Good Turn (1955 film)

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One Good Turn
Original UK Quad poster
Directed byJohn Paddy Carstairs
Written byMaurice Cowan
John Paddy Carstairs
Ted Willis
Sid Colin (additional scenes)
Talbot Rothwell(additional scenes)
Produced byMaurice Cowan
StarringNorman Wisdom
Joan Rice
Shirley Abicair
Thora Hird
CinematographyJack E. Cox
Edited byGeoffrey Foot
Music byJohn Addison
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release date
4 January 1955
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

One Good Turn is a 1955 British comedy film directed by John Paddy Carstairs and starring Norman Wisdom, Joan Rice, Shirley Abicair and Thora Hird.[1] The main setting of the film is an English children's home, located south of London.


Norman lives at Greenwood children's home, south of London, where he grew up. He has stayed on and serves as carer and general dogsbody. He regards the staff and children there as his family, and when Jimmy, one of the boys, sets his heart on a model car which he has seen in a shop window, Norman is determined to raise the money to buy it. But he cannot afford it on his meagre wages, and Matron refuses to provide the money.

Norman plans a train trip to Brighton, as he has never seen the sea. However, he loses his trousers before boarding. On leaving the train, he is chased by the police and disguises his appearance by joining the final stage of the London to Brighton walking race. Due to his advantage in joining so late, he wins, but fails to sell the silver cup he has been awarded to a pawnbroker, who thinks the trophy has been stolen. Norman acquires a top hat and tails and is eating candy floss by a stage door. The manager comes out searching for the orchestra conductor and mistakes Norman as the missing man (his candy floss stick look like a baton). Norman creates a disjointed performance and starts laughing. The laughter is infectious and soon the whole audience is laughing. After a short section of normality where the orchestra play Lohengrin Norman decides to move to big band music.

At this point the real conductor arrives and Norman tries to hide. As the orchestra play the William Tell Overture Norman runs around and causes chaos.

At a local fair, he sees he can win £10 by lasting three rounds in a boxing fight. He gets hypnotised to make himself a good boxer. This is succeeding but both the boxing and hypnotism are scams so they cheat him out of the money. The audience have seen what happened and have a whip-round for him, which raises fifteen shillings. Norman bursts into song as he stands by a cupie doll game at the fair. He gets enough money to buy the pedal car but a misunderstanding as it leaves the shop window leads to another police pursuit.

Norman returns to the Home, but finds it in a state of siege. The chairman of the trustees is also a crooked property speculator and wants to evict the kids so that a factory can be built on the site. The children defenders are successful and the home is saved. Little Johnny says he no longer wants the car as he has been given a model plane.

At Christmas, Norman dresses as Santa Claus to give presents to the children.



Producer Maurice Cowan made Wisdom's first film and wrote the story for his third. He so disliked working with Wisdom on this film that he never produced another film for the comedian.[2]


The film was the 7th most popular movie at the British box office in 1955.[3][4]

In a Radio Times review written many decades later, it was asserted: "this is the cleverly constructed follow-up to Norman Wisdom's smash-hit debut Trouble in Store. Arguably the best of his vehicles...Of course, the film is overly sentimental, but sentiment was part of Wisdom's stock-in-trade, and today, if we can look beyond the home-grown schmaltz, we can recognise the rare quality of a true cinematic clown".[5]


  1. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | ONE GOOD TURN (1954)". 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Our "Zither Girl " had no hope". Sunday Times (Perth) (2924). Western Australia. 19 December 1954. p. 39. Retrieved 11 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Dirk Bogarde favourite film actor". The Irish Times. Dublin, Ireland. 29 December 1955. p. 9.
  4. ^ Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 259.
  5. ^ "One Good Turn | Film review and movie reviews". Radio Times. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
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One Good Turn (1955 film)
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