The Square Peg

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The Square Peg
The Square Peg FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by John Paddy Carstairs
Written by Jack Davies
Starring Norman Wisdom
Honor Blackman
Edward Chapman
Campbell Singer
Music by Philip Green
Cinematography Jack E. Cox
Edited by Roger Cherrill
Distributed by Rank Film Distributors
Release date
  • 4 January 1959 (1959-01-04)
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Square Peg is a 1959 British comedy film starring Norman Wisdom and directed by John Paddy Carstairs.[1] Norman Wisdom plays two different characters: a man who digs and repairs roads, and a Nazi General.



In the early days of World War II, Norman Pitkin, a roadmender with St Godric's Borough Council, falls foul of the soldiers in an army camp, when his handiwork slows down access to the camp. Despite the efforts of Borough Engineer, Mr Grimsdale, the army has both of them called up for army service. They find themselves in the Pioneer Corps, doing much the same sort of work.

The two are posted to France, but mistakenly end up behind German lines. Grimsdale is captured by German soldiers and taken to local headquarters in a chateau. Meanwhile, Pitkin has wandered into the nearby town, but doesn't notice soldiers standing to attention and saluting him. It transpires that he's a double of the local commander, General Schreiber. In a cafe, he recognises the waitress as Lesley, an ATS officer he had briefly met in training camp. She is in fact an undercover agent working with the local resistance group, but Pitkin inadvertently blows her cover and she's arrested, along with the cafe owner.

Pitkin and Henri, another resistance worker, break into the chateau, using a tunnel that Pitkin digs, but they too are captured. Pitkin comes face-to-face with Schreiber and finally realises his chance. To keep up the deception, he has a tryst with Gretchen, the general's mistress - a singer of Wagnerian proportions - and comically attempts to sing Schubert lieder with her.

Pitkin/Schreiber manages to release the prisoners, who escape through the tunnel, but Pitkin is caught and sentenced to be shot at dawn. As the execution is about to be carried out, he escapes through the same tunnel and runs back to the Allied lines.

At war's end, all have survived and peace returns to the Council offices. Grismdale is still Borough Engineer, but Pitkin is now the mayor.


The popularity of Norman Wisdom fans had been in decline through the 1950s but The Square Peg halted the trend.[2] The film was the 7th most popular movie at the British box office in 1959.[3]


  1. ^
  2. ^ British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference by Sue Harper, Vincent Porter Oxford University Press, 2003 p 50
  3. ^ "Year Of Profitable British Films." Times [London, England] 1 Jan. 1960: 13. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.

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