DVD Review: What's Good For The Goose (1969)
When it comes to Norman Wisdom, you expect pretty much all of his output to involve a jaunty flat cap and a cry of 'Mr Grimsdale!' Not a mid-life crisis, a bunch of hippies and the Pretty Things. Which is what you actually get with What's Good For The Goose.
Wisdom is a middle-aged London banker called Timothy Bartlett, assistant manager at his branch, married with two children and living the middle class, middle-management life. Every day like the last. Then one day, everything changes.
The manager is struck down at work, with Bartlett forced to take his place at the banker's conference in Southport. He packs his bag (and his sandwiches) for the long drive, but just short of the town, he accidentally picks up two swinging teens, Nikki (Sally Geeson) and Meg (Sarah Atkinson), who manage to ruffle his feathers and get him pulled over for speeding. The first layer of his respectability has been chipped away. It won't be the last.
The conference starts, but all usually diligent banker can think about are the two girls in the car. The dour conference and post-conference dinner don't help, nor does being the 'outsider' at the event. There's only one thing for it - go where the action is!
Which just happens to be a nearby club (The Screaming Apple) where the mods and hippies hang out. Inside, it's a technicolor dream, with the sounds provided at ear-shattering volume by Electric Banana (played by The Pretty Things). One of the great 'swinging' club scenes ever committed to film. the other is later in the same movie.
Anyway, our Timothy meets up with the two girls and their hipster crowd, becomes a surprise hit on the dancefloor and manages to 'pull' Nikki too. After some knockabout antics, he gets her back to his room for a night of passion.
That's not the end of it either. With his head turned, Timothy skips the conference and has some fun on the town instead - the funfair, the bandstand, the sand dunes, even some swimming in the nude during a day/night session. The day after, he goes out to buy some hipster gear, as well as a new-build flat for his new-found girlfriend, before hitting the Screaming Apple once more, throwing some will shapes too, as it happens.
The turnaround is complete.
Or is it? Deep down, you know it's only a weekend of fun…and like all weekends, soon enough, it's back to the Monday to Friday grind. As Timothy finds out all too quickly. Still, at least there's a happy ending of sorts.
So there should be. Because essentially, What's Good For The Goose is a fun film. Yes, it might have an undercurrent of a midlife crisis, it might also be a poke at the 'establishment', but like Timothy's banking weekend, it's just a piece of escapism - about how you can learn to enjoy life once more if you get over yourself.
It might not work for the die hard Wisdom fans, but lovers of swinging sixties cinema really should grab a copy of this. On the downside, not a lot of restoration has gone into this release - this is still the 'cut' version, although you're only missing a bit of surrealism and nudity from the full version. Extras are a bit lacking too.
But the quality seems up on past video versions I've seen and at £7.99, it's not exactly a big outlay. Like a day out in Southport, it's better than you might expect.
Find out more about the DVD at the Amazon website