The Bulldog Breed (1960) Poster

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You don't want to have a leak, do you?
Andrei Pavlov5 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Well, kind of, because it's freaking funny. Why? It's about the first man in space. "The Russians?" Even worse. The laughable disaster of "Pitkin" kind.

Again I'm writing a few words about a Norman Wisdom movie. And again I've got nothing bad to say. A great comedy from the good old black-and-white era. Finally in my DVD collection. I especially like the way this movie jumps from one subject to another (while some other reviewers are tend to consider it a drawback). Delivery service - suicide topic - Royal Navy - space travelling. And Mr Norman Wisdom delivers. He delivers his top-notch performance from the beginning of this picture till the very end adding ridiculous "Aye aye, sir" to his character's incompetent actions. And I was thoroughly surprised by the ladies' actions. The scene where some hot chick lures Norman into love-making is dynamite. How daring for 1960.

Congratulations, Mr Norman Wisdom. You've made me laugh again. And not just once or twice during the movie but continuously. The fabulous highlights of the film for me are: Norman's collision with the local band, the three ways of "doing oneself in", the famous "man overboard" scene (I especially like the gun play here), the three ways of Norman's "trials" (gymnastics, diving-costume, mountains), the ridiculous "Attention!" boxing scene and a bit further - a reprise of it, and space travel with Norman pushing every button to get any result. The movie has also a very neat bunch of puns (look up the reference of this comment – it is a brilliant example).

And don't tell me the movie's rating is lower than 7 out of 10. It must rub shoulders with Mr Charlie Chaplin's films on the top list. That's what I think.

10 out of 10 (yes, I know it is too subjective, so what?). Thanks for attention.
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Enormous fun, marvellous set-pieces, great humanity.
acamera9 August 1999
Norman Wisdom is- in all of his films- very human. The puppy-dog eagerness, willingness to do anything set before him, ability to make a mistake and then go on to make it worse- are, of course, the very stuff of the comic character that he sets up for us to laugh at. But his genius lies in the ability to make us identify with him, to 'live the life' with him, even as we guffaw.

In the Bulldog Breed there are stock characters aplenty, and the players act their roles accordingly, but Wisdom- like a wicked imp- seems to dodge and dart round the convention & hierarchy that still- in 1960- characterized much of the English way of doing things. He is like the benign counterpart of a poltergeist: causing disruption, certainly, but not as an alien or supernatural incursion, rather a human intervention into a stiff and inhuman environment. The sequence in which he gets a whole ship's crew into the water is an excellent example of this.

One thing that often goes unremarked in Wisdom's films is the sexual presence there. There is almost always some lubricious lovely in the line-up and, in this case, Wisdom (after some other amorous adventures) ends up on the beach with a girl in a grass skirt, being told to 'carry on'. By contemporary standards what is there is so laughably little that it seems distinctly odd to regard it as 'sex interest' but, in historical context, it is definitely that, and as much a part of the humour as 'dirty postcards' were a part of the English seaside holiday of the time.

Bear in mind, by the way, that in the years running up to the first moon-landing, this film is also a comment on Britain's presence in space!
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Dark tints around the edges of the usual Wisdom comedy fare.
Spikeopath20 October 2010
The Bulldog Breed is a Norman Wisdom vehicle that's directed by Robert Asher & co-written by Wisdom with Henry Blyth & Jack Davies. Plot sees Wisdom as Norman Puckle, a hapless grocer's assistant who is hopelessly in love with Marlene (Penny Morell). When she spurns his offer of marriage he attempts to commit suicide, but he proves to be inept at that as well. Finally settling on jumping off of "Lover's Leap" as a sure fire way to die, he is saved at the last minute by a Naval Officer who seduces him with talk of life as a sailor, where the girls are plenty and life is totally great. Buying into it Norman enrols, but he quickly finds that it's a tough life, that he is hopeless as a sailor and that the commander wants to fly him off into outer space!.

The Bulldog Breed comes at a time when Wisdom was most prolific on the big screen, in a 17 year period from 1953 to 1969 Wisdom was the lead star in 15 movies. While during this time he was lending support to a number of ensemble and TV pictures too. It's inevitable that during a busy period such as this that the quality of entertainment will vary, this effort falls some where in the middle on the list of Wisdom's best movies. The formula remains the same as Wisdom plays plays a bumbling but lovable dope who creates carnage where ever he goes. The comedy set pieces are many, with a "man overboard" sequence of events the particular highlight. While it also serves as an interesting snap shot of the times. Where The Bulldog Breed differs from many of Wisdom's most fondly thought of film's is with its darker tones of suicide and sexual suggestion (the latter beautifully brought to life by the sultry Liz Fraser). It's an odd mix of a film, and one that has proved to divide Wisdom purists. Newcomers to his work are most likely better off choosing something else as a starting point to his movie output. 6/10

Footnote: The film marks early appearances of Michael Caine and Oliver Reed who share a scene together with Wisdom. While fans of British soap Coronation Street will find value in seeing actors Johnny Briggs and William Roache also appearing in the piece.
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Norman Wisdom
corrdepot16 February 2007
I think the talent of Norman Wisdom has it's own unique quality.

There is only one Norman Wisdom and that is what some believe is a disadvantage because he seems to play the same character in all his films, to others this is good and of great entertainment.

Have been watching his films since I was a child up to present day, they never fail to make me laugh, no matter how many times I see them.

There seems to be a split amongst some about the talents & films of Norman Wisdom, they either hate him or love him. Personally I love him.

Our Norman is in his 90s now. I wish him continued long life and long may be reign.


Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Interesting, but not one of his best.
Davo1233 May 2000
'The Bulldog Breed' is one of my favourite Norman Wisdom films, but not one of his best.It is interesting because of the space flight angle, and the film certainly captures the mood of the era.

In many respects this is a sad film; Puckle is portrayed as a rather tragic character, who never really finds his niche.The whole films carries a slight air of depression about it, which is not helped by the melancholy music score.

There are several funny scenes, notably the 'man overboard' scene, the diving lesson, and the mountain climbing episode. In all of these though, the comedy is diluted by the overall gloom of the film.

A hidden gem in the film are the brief, uncredited, appearances of Michael Caine and Oliver Reed in the cinema foyer scene.
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The old formula – will amuse fans
bob the moo12 October 2002
Grocer delivery boy Norman Puckle is frustrated in his attempts to et a local girl and tries to kill himself. However he is saved at the last minute and told that to join the navy is to get all the girls he'll ever want. However Norman is not a sea-faring man by trade and struggles with the disciplined lifestyle required. Things are made worse when The Admiral selects him for an experimental rocket as proof that any sailor could operate it given the proper training. He hadn't planned on Norman.

Wisdom is very much an acquired taste. I'm not an Albanian but I do still enjoy most of his films. Here the plot sees him as, wait for it, a lowly worker who makes good, gets the girl and shows up the toffs at the same time! So not a mile (or a yard) away from the usual fare then. But that's fine, the usual stuff is actually OK. Here his usual routines are mostly OK but some are just average. If you usually get a laugh from it then this will just about suffice.

Wisdom is good and has a strong support cast. However the problem is that it feels too heavily on his shoulders and the rest aren't used well enough to share the load. When you've got actors like Hunter, Chapman, Jones, Alexander and the ever great Le Mesurier then you need to use them. Most have the odd good line or two but I wanted more from all of them.

The comedy is basic and times and you know where it's heading from minute number 1! I'm a fan and found this to be amusing but not Wisdom's best by any means. If this is your first meeting with Wisdom then you may be disappointed, fans will enjoy it.
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The Bulldog Breed.....
Aaron Hassard19 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In the bulldog breed, Norman is tricked into the navy, after many attempts at committing suicide (which were quite funny!) but as soon as he joins, the navy isn't all gorgeous girls as he was tricked into thinking..... .....instead it's a hard life where Norman gets into all sorts of trouble, getting is fellow Naval men three weeks leave for his hilarious mistakes but they get the three weeks deducted off later on.... ....he has been chosen to be the first man to enter space, but, has to go through some rigorous training, which he fails miserably! Which means that someone else had to be chosen for the expedition.... ...but Norman finds his way onto the Space Craft after chasing a dog and a rabbit onto the rocket (the dog and rabbit escape unharmed) but Norman is left to man a space craft and successfully makes it back to earth, crashing near an island which has a very beautiful girl on it, Norman had to stay on the island for a fews hours, i'm sure he didn't mind!

So overall i'd give this film a 6/10 because it didn't have as many laugh out loud moments as any other Norman Wisdom film i've watched, but still very good
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THE BULLDOG BREED (Robert Asher, 1960) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI25 August 2006
Entertaining but disjointed star farce in which Norman joins the Navy after being jilted by the girl of his dreams; in fact, the plot takes in all of the following and more: a scuffle outside a cinema (one of the bullies who beat up Wisdom is none other than Oliver Reed!), several hilarious attempts at suicide (by far the best scenes in the film), the star doing conjuring tricks, some rather silly shipboard shenanigans (as when Norman throws the entire crew overboard), an amusing court-martial sequence (featuring John Le Mesurier as the Prosecutor), a lengthy mountain-climbing episode and even a climax which sends the star into outer space! The film's trick effects utilize some crudely effective animation, and a reliable supporting cast highlights Ian Hunter (as the ship's Admiral), David Lodge (usually the brunt of Wisdom's antics), Edward Chapman (as the inventor of the rocket) and Liz Fraser (from the delightful Peter Sellers vehicles I'M ALL RIGHT, JACK! [1959] and TWO WAY STRETCH [1960]).
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Norman at his Best
Welly-227 July 1999
As time passes, the warmth and innocence of Norman Wisdom films becomes a rarer and rarer treat. This is one of his best and includes all of the trade-mark ingredients. The scene where Norman throws the whole crew of a Navy frigate overboard is priceless and the reaction of the supporting cast to Norman throughout the film is as worth watching as the man himself. If you like the predictable, honest and gentle humour of the black and white Ealing era then this is one of the best.
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Humorous B&W movie rewards a bit of late night channel surfing
club443 December 2002
Being a night baker by profession, I couldn't sleep on one of my nights off. Switching on the television I found myself intrigued by this '60's black and white film. This is a fun comedy based around a hapless lad "Puckle" who longs to find a place in the world around him and a lady to love. Unfortunately for Puckle, he has somewhat of a reverse Midas-touch and everything he sets his mind(?) to, comes undone. At times you can sympathize, at others you can only laugh. In my opinion this movie is a fun way to spend 90 odd minutes.
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Mutiny of Moviewatchers
tedg3 December 2006
I swore I would never watch another Norman Wisdom movie. They are all much the same and any are a waste of time — unless your standards for amusement are dangerously low.

In this one, he is tricked into joining the Navy, apparently only because the filmmakers had a deal with a real ship and its crew. Wisdom is again his standard character: part clueless disaster, part earnest innocent. Again you see his errors creating broad slapstick. He pushes men overboard, for instance. Ho hum.

The odd thing was how many such movies he made. There must have been a market for such a thing in the UK. There's no redeeming value here.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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Runs out of steam quickly
malcolmgsw5 June 2017
I think that I first saw this on its original Odeon release.My excuse being that I was young and impressionable at the time.I normally cannot stand Norman Wisdom films,but I did laugh a few times at this.The problem with this film is that it is very episodic and that it has been through the hands of a number of writers.Often they seem to work on the basis that if a gag is funny once why not repeat it six times.The man overboard sequence being a particularly unfunny example of this.Norman Wisdom is one of those actors whom you either like or dislike.I tend to be in the later camp so the end of this film could not come quickly enough for me.
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Predictable And Episodic
Theo Robertson28 August 2005
I didn't think much of THE BULLDOG BREED simply because I don't think much of Norman Wisdom . When you've seen one of his comedies you've basically seen them all . The jokes are corny and predictable and usually revolve around coincidence and misunderstanding . Suppose to were to throw an anchor off a pier what's the chances of a speed boat passing at the same time ? If you threw an anchor of a pier a thousand times I doubt if you'd hit one single boat passing , same as if you threw rubbish overboard from a ship whats the chances that your commanding officer would be berthed alongside ? Yeah I know you're not supposed to think about it but the comedy stretches credibility and shows itself to be unsophisticated

There is another problem this movie and that is that it doesn't have a cohesive plot . Think about it , by an unlikely series of events Norman joins the navy but then the location switches to a climbing expedition then later on the story revolves around a journey in to outer space . It's as if the writers had several under developed ideas for a story then not knowing what to do with them tried to piece them together which gives the movie a very episodic feel

Despite these criticisms THE BULLDOG BREED remains one of Wisdom's most watchable movies simply because it features so many well known faces from television such as a couple of long running cast members from CORONATION STREET not to mention a couple of uncredited appearances from future film stars Oliver Reed and Michael Caine
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