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Carry On Sergeant
So, here we go - the first of the series. The one that started it all. Carry On Sergeant. Based on the novel The Bull Boys by R F Delderfield, fact fans. It's a simple tale of civilians called up for National Service and transforming themselves from a ragtag bunch of no-hopers into a champion platoon. And all because the gruff sergeant charged with training them has bet fifty quid he can turn out a champion platoon before he retires. There's also a sub-plot based on one recruit being called up on his wedding day, but to be honest, that fizzles out about halfway through the film.
As it's the first in the series, it'd be a bit much to claim that there are any regulars in the cast but of the usual suspects Kenneth Williams (25 films), Charles Hawtrey (23), Hattie Jacques (14) and Kenneth Connor (17) are in there. Other irregulars include Eric Barker, Norman Rossington and Terry Scott, who makes a brief appearance and then has to wait ten years before he appears in another Carry On film. The top billing though goes to William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse and Shirley Eaton. Hartnell plays the gruff Sgt. Grimshaw, ably assisted by Bill Owen (Compo in Last of the Summer Wine) as Corporal Coppin. Monkhouse and Eaton play the harshly-parted newly-weds.
So that's (some of) the facts about the film, but the key question I suppose, is 'Is it any good?' Well, seekers of cheap innuendo, saucy-postcard-smut and acres of cleavage will be sadly disappointed. This one belongs to a gentler age. It's a light, comedy, less sophisticated than the Ealing comedies of a few years previous but with a good heart at the centre of it. The plot and story are fairly simplistic and the resolution is a bit glib and slick for my liking, but it is genuinely amusing. It might not make you laugh out loud but it will help you while away a rainy Sunday afternoon. (Well, it did for me!)
Overall, I'd give it 6/10. Not a "classic" Carry On, but a decent little film in it's own right.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Nurse
The second in the series and the first of the hospital-based capers, Carry On Nurse. The year is 1959 and, like its predecessor, it's filmed in Black and White and made on a shoestring buget. The plot? Well, there isn't one really. It's set in a hospital, there are a series of comic episodes and a little romantic tosh thrown in too and that's it. Based on an idea by Patrick Cargill and Jack Beale, apparently. I reckon their idea was "make a comedy set in a hospital" and that was as far as they got with it.
Regular Carry On-ers here are Williams, Hawtrey, Connor and Jacques and Joan Sims (24 films) makes her first appearance. Of the irregulars, Norman Rossington and Bill Owen from the first film put in an appearance and Shirley Eaton gets the romantic female lead opposite Terence Longdon. This is also Leslie Phillips first outing in a Carry On film and he went on to appear in three more, including Carry On Columbus, which we'll not hold against him even though it was shite. In the first case of obvious stereotyping Hattie Jacques plays the stern Matron (shocker!) and Charles Hawtrey a camp eceentric (shocker number two!). Stars, as such, were Wilfred Hyde-White as a bossy Colonel, who spends all the film running the nurses ragged with trivial requests but gets his comeuppance, and Michael Medwin, who was big at the time.
The problem with this film is that it is just a series of set pieces, without much of a central storyline holding it together. Some the vignettes are funny, some aren't. The patient going loopy, for example, is a bit ropey, but the operating theatre scene, when a drunk Leslie Phillips persuades fellow drunk patient Kenneth Williams to operate on his bunion is pure Carry On gold. And Wilfred Hyde-White's comeuppance is both hilarious and (for it's day) very risque but it almost gets lost at the end of the film.
Overall, this one gets 5 out of 10. It has it's moments but the lack of a central plot to drive the story along means that occasionally it just drifts.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Teacher
It's only Day Three of the CarryOn-athon and already I'm feeling weary. Whether that's down to the films themselves or the fact that, due to a very pleasant day's drinking in Chester on Saturday, I was too hungover on Sunday to implement my plan to watch a few films and get ahead of myself. If I'd managed that I could have the occasional night off and not have to watch each one and then do the write up. My own fault of course, I should have been a good boy and stayed in, but when a young lady invites you out on her birthday, what can you do?
Anyway, here we go, the third in the series, Carry On Teacher. Made in 1959, hot on the heels of Carry On Nurse and the first that was written specifically with a Carry On team in mind. The team consisting of regulars Williams, Connor, Hawtrey, Jacques and Sims supplemented by Leslie Phillips, Ted Ray and Rosalind Knight (who later went on to appear in the fantastically titled 'Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?'). Also appearing, in his only Carry On, is Richard O'Sullivan, who made his name appearing alongside Cliff Richard in his movies, and Carol White, who went on to be Cathy in Ken Loach's seminal piece, 'Cathy Come Home' as well as taking the lead in 'Up The Junction', a controversial drama tackling abortion. Honourable mention too for Cyril Chamberlain, in a minor role but appearing in the third of his seven Carry Ons.
The plot of the film is fairly straightforward. Acting headmaster Ted Ray decides that after 20 years and one term at Maudlin Street school he wants a change and is going to apply for the post of Headmaster at a brand new school opening near his home. He gathers his staff together to inform them of his decision. The only possible fly in the ointment is the impending visit of school inspector Rosalind Knight, who is accompanying child psychologist Leslie Phillips on a research trip to the school. If she gives the place a bad report, Ted will never get his dream job. Of course, smart-arse pupil, Richard O'Sullivan overhears all this and rallies the troops to disrupt classes and sabotage the teachers, so that the kids don't lose their beloved teacher. In the midst of all this there's still time for Phillips to hit it off with gym teacher Sims and bumbling science teacher Connor to overcome his nerves and warm up frosty inspector Knight.
It's a feelgood movie because, you know, the kids are behaving outrageously for a perfectly good reason and those dumb teachers get what they deserve. For example, the pompous manner in which Hawtrey and Williams approach the school play, as if it were the highest of high art, means that it's ripe for demolition and sabotage. On the other hand, spiking the staff tea and boobytrapping the staff room are ideas that are just a bit too silly and stretch credulity. Not that the central plot idea doesn't do that anyway, of course.
Overall, it gets 5 out of 10 from me. It's a nice little film with a happy ending but inevitably will suffer comparison with any other school-based comedy, such as the St Trinians film series, for example. Plenty of amusing moments but none that are truly "laugh out loud". On the other hand, there is something strangely alluring about the young Hattie Jacques in schoolma'am drag, wielding a cane. Oh dear, perhaps I've said too much...
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Constable
So here we go, the fourth in the series, Carry On Constable and the third in a year penned by Norman Hudis, who was obviously on something of a roll. Or perhaps on a pay-per-script deal. Released at the end of 1959 or early in 1960, depending on which source you believe, it still has the air of being filmed on a shoestring and the studio are still using Black & White film stock. The regulars in full effect are Williams, Hawtrey, Connor, Jacques and Sims and Sid James makes his debut (the first of 19 appearances, fact fans). Eric Barker and Leslie Phillips do the duties for the irregulars and there's a final appearance for Shirley Eaton, who goes off to do a few other things before getting bumped off in Goldfinger. There's also the first of four Carry On appearances for Esma Cannon, who specialised in playing slightly dotty, old ladies. No real star appearances but there is a cameo by boxer Freddie Mills, who plays a jewel thief.
Gruff Sergeant Wilkins (Sid James) is having a hard time running the police station. Not only does he have to deal with the manipulative Inspector, but half his staff are off because of a flu epidemic. Cue the arrival of Connor, Phillips and Williams straight from training school to help out. They are joined by Hawtrey as the eccentric-slash-camp (shocker!) special constable and by Sims as the ultra-efficient WPC, who's job is to provide the love interest for Connor's superstitious bobby. Needless to say, the four boys get into a right load of trouble, incurring the wrath of the Inspector, who threatens to get Wilkins transferred if he can't maintain order. Luckily, it all turns out alright in the end - the boys prove they are up to the job and the Inspector gets his just desserts. Oh and Sid James gets together with Hattie Jacques, who plays his right-hand woman at the station.
It's not too difficult to see how Norman Hudis could churn out three scripts in a year - once you've got your stock characters, all you need is a setting and the rest writes itself. The comic situations just need to be tailored for setting/profession of the film and the appropriate amount of innuendo inserted (ooh-er!). For example, you could just transplant those characters to, say, a modern call-centre and churn out something fairly close to these early Carry Ons. Although, of course, you'd have to throw in a lot more alcohol and sex to make people watch it. You might have to put some of that stuff in the film too...
Overall, another 5 out of 10. Not a classic by any means, but notable for the first appearance of Lord Sidney of St James and for it's attempt to make the police force the subject of comedy. Something the Police Academy films never managed....
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Regardless
Apologies for the poor spelling in yesterday's posting (all corrected now, I hope) but I didn't do it till late in the evening and was pretty much cream-crackered by then. Given that I nodded off twice whilst trying to upload it, I'm surprised that I didn't mangle it a bit more to be honest. Anyway, that out of the way, time to discuss tonight's offering Carry On Regardless.
Probably better known for being a prominent, repeated line in 'Good as Gold' by The Beautiful South, Carry On Regardlass is number five in the series and we've hit the swinging sixties. 1961 to be precise. Made against the backdrop of other film companies apparently trying to cash in on the Carry On phenomenom, Anglo Amalgamated's budget still doesn't stretch to colour film stock or another scriptwriter as Norman Hudis does the honours once again. The regulars on parade here are Williams, Connor, Hawtrey, James, Jacques and Sims, although Hattie Jacques was limited to a minor appearance due to illness. Irregulars include Liz Fraser, (4 films), Terence Longdon and Cyril Chamberlain. A suprising number of familiar faces also pop up in cameo roles (Nicholas Parsons and Charlie from Bergerac to name but two) and there's also the only other Carry On appearance by Fenella Fielding. Boxer Freddie Mills makes his second appearance and Stanley Unwin gets a lead role and the chance to much goobledygook speaky-holen.
Plot? Any pretence of plot has been abandoned for this one There's a running gag with Stanley Unwin repeatedly failing to make himself understood (indeed much confusey-mold of the earyholen aboundens) but that's as close to a plot as it gets. Otherwise, Sid runs the Helping Hands agency - if you've got something you need doing, they've got someone to do it. And because this is a Carry On, they usually muck it up, so cue the comic scenes. From Joan Sims getting drunk at a wine-tasting to Kenneth Williams having trouble with a monkey, to Charles Hawtrey getting involved in a boxing match, the hilarity never starts. Even when they get their assignments mixed up, with predictable consequences, it all seems a bit routine. Perhaps, that's because I have seen this one a fair few times, so I know what's coming next. Or perhaps because, for the first time, I've compared it at close quarters to the other early films and realise how similar they are.
That said, if Nurse and Constables are fives, then this has to get 6 out of 10. You get more bang for your buck in terms of comic set pieces and Stanley Unwin speakalo frankly goobledygook a load and hilarimold is ensued therefore muchly in the following of. Deep Joy.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Cruising
Hurrah! It's 1962 and it's the first of the Carry Ons in colour. That can only mean it's time to Carry On Cruising. Of the regulars only Williams, Connor and James make it on board the SS Happy Wanderer, although Cyril Chamberlain continues his run of appearances, thereby matching Connor and Williams as the only actor to appear in the first six films of the series. Liz Fraser and Esma Cannon are about as good as you get for irregulars, beyond that we're heading towards the bottom of the bill for the likes of Willoughby Goddard and Ed Devereaux, who both appeared in more than one film. Lance Percival, who seemed to make a career out of turning up in nonsense like this, in fact make his one and only Carry On appearance. Take note though, trivia fans, Ronnie Stevens who plays the drunk passenger (one of my favourite characters, surprisingly) was also one of the narrators for the fantastic Noggin the Nog (Why hasn't that ever been released on DVD?).
One of the other ever-presents in this lot is scriptwriter Norman Hudis, churning out his last, and arguably best, script of the series. Captain Crowther (Sid James) sets sail on a Mediterranean cruise, his last before a promotion to a bigger and better ship, but does so with a handful of new faces replacing key members of his crew. Yes, step forward Connor (ship's doctor), Williams (First Officer), Percival (chef) and Chamberlain (steward). And not only do these new faces have to settle in rather quickly but they also have to deal with some of the strangest passengers too. Of course, Connor doesn't help himself by courting one of the passengers (a definite no-no) but, as with Carry On Sergeant, the chaps find it in themselves to pull together for the Captain's final voyage. Lance Percival's cake for the Captain's farewell dinner is a piece de resistance, but even a concoction containing sardines and spaghetti, amongst other things, can't dampen the Captain's spirits and he turns down the promotion to remain in charge of his band of happy wanderers.
This gets 7 out of 10 - the best of the series so far and with fewer lead characters there's time for all of them to develop their parts and get the most out of the story. You don't notice the absence of regular Carry One-ers and the film rattles on. I don't think there are any duff scenes in it and for me this is one of the Carry Ons that you must see.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Cabby
After the colour-tastic last hurrah for Norman Hudis, it's back to black and white for Carry On Cabby This is the first production of a screenplay by Talbot Rothwell, although, fact fans, this was actually the second Carry On what he wrote. (Incidentally, I'm sure my Dad drove a Talbot Rothwell for a couple of weeks in the 1970's while he was waiting for his new Ford Cortina.) The regulars on duty here are James, Hawtrey, Connor and Jacques. Esma Cannon and Liz Fraser are the irregulars who get top billing and Bill Owen makes a brief appearance. Cyril Chamberlain makes his last Carry On appearance before retiring to run an antiques shop in Wales. This film also features debuts for Amanda Barrie and Jim Dale, who appear in my favourite Carry On films later in the series. Kenneth Williams misses out here, meaning that Connor and Chamberlain set the pace for consecutive appearances with seven apiece.
The change of scriptwriter brings a change of focus and here the Carry On films move away from "bungling new recruits" theme of much of the earlier films. Now it's the battle of the sexes that concerns us. Sid James spends more time with his cab firm than with his wife, Hattie Jacques, and after one mucked-up anniversary too many, Hattie resolves to find herself a job. A chance meeting leads to her setting up GlamCabs in direct competition to Sid's Speedee Cabs. There's no way Sid's ageing fleet of black cabs and rough-and-ready drivers can compete with the attractive girls driving the swish new Ford Consuls and pretty soon they're resorting to dirty tricks to try to force GlamCabs off the road. All of which fail, of course, because Hattie has got Liz Fraser tipping her off. When Sid finally throws in the towel and faces up to the mysterious owner of GlamCabs, he's devatated to find it's his own wife who has "betrayed" him. They split up and it looks final until Sid redeems himself by mobilising his cabs to rescue Hattie and Liz from a hold-up.
I'll give this 6 out of 10. It's a fairly solid script, and it has the elements of a classic Carry On but it's in black and white and after Carry On Cruising that's a bit of a let-down. On the other hand, you do get Amanda Barrie giving a great turn and it's hard to argue there's anything actually wrong with it. I'll do a list at the end of the month of giving you a guide as to which Carry Ons you must see and which you must avoid and so on, but at the moment this is one that I think you should watch if it's on but don't go out of your way to find it.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Jack
Hurrah! It's back to colour film stock for Carry On Jack, the first Carry On that Talbot Rothwell developed a screenplay for but beaten into production by Cabby earlier in the year. Of the established regulars there's only Hawttrey and Williams on board but they're ably supported by Bernard Cribbins and Juliet Mills in the other lead roles. There's a smattering of irregulars further down the bill including Patrick Cargill, Anton Rodgers and Ed Devereaux, who makes the last of his five Carry On apearances. Solid support work comes in the form of established actors Donald Houston, Percy Herbert and Cecil Parker, who all lend this enterprise a bit more gravitas. Oh, and Jim Dale makes his second Carry On appearance.
Set not long after the death of Nelson, this film sees Midshipman Albert Poop-Decker (Cribbins) finally make it out of Naval college after eight-and-a half years. He's posted to HMS Venus, but before he gets there his identity is stolen by Juliet Mills, who wants to get to Spain to find her childhood sweetheart. Luckily, he's press-ganged on to the ship anyway. Fearsome officers Howett (Houston) and Angel (Herbert) run a tight ship but, sadly, their new commander, Captain Fearless (Williams) doesn't live up to his name. Faced with the the prospect of spending their time running away from the enemy, the officers trick the Captain (along with the two Poop-Deckers (real and impostor) and Hawtrey) in to abandoning the ship, and then set off to attack the Spanish fleet. They are attacked, their ship stolen and they end up locked in a Spanish jail. The castaways meanwhile manage to land ashore but are then taken captive by the pirates who have HMS Venus. Pirates led by Mills' childhood sweetheart. The four castaways somehow manage to beat the pirates and set sail home. Back in Spain Howett and Angel and their men have escaped the jail and are sailing back to England with five captured ships. Cue the comic encounter when a falling lamp starts a fire and sets off the Venus' cannons, sinking the Spanish vessels. The Venus' crew though are blissfully unaware as they're down below cutting off Ken Williams' gangrenous leg. They are, of course, proclaimed heroes when they reach Plymouth harbour.
Phew! There's more of a story in this than in previous films, and it has a darker tone, even though the motif of bunglers triumphing over the odds is retained. And given that, the lack of regular cast members and the absence of the innuendo that eventually overwhelmed the whole enterprise, this film does seem like an oddity in the series. It's not that it's a bad film - far from it - it just doesn't quite feel like a Carry On. Still, it's one that I like and will seek out to watch if it's on. So for that alone I have to give it 7 out of 10.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Spying
Why? Why? Why? After another quality outing in colour, why on Earth do they flick back to black and white for Carry On Spying? I've looked on t'Internet but not even the normally reliable Carry On site can give me an answer. You could make a case that it's an homage to the films noir parodied here (Third Man, Maltese Falcon, etc) but I reckon it's just because it was cheaper than colour. For all the invention, humour and flair on display in this series of films it's worth remembering that they never got further from London than Snowdonia for location filming and the studio were always keen to keep the costs down. Fortunately, they didn't try to reduce costs further by sticking with the original Norman Hudis script (he later claimed his script was terrible) and Talbot Rothwell knocks up the screenplay. Regulars on duty here are Williams and Hawtrey and Barbara Windsor makes the first of her nine appearances. For the irregulars Eric Barker and Jim Dale take lead roles and Dilys Laye gets a second lead role. Further down the bill, Victor Maddern gets a significant role in the fourth of his five Carry Ons and Frank Forsyth notches up the sixth of eight appearances.
The clue is in the title here - this is basically a spy spoof; a concept Peter Rogers clearly had in mind when he first registered the title around the time of the first James Bond movie. Foreign agent Milchmann (Maddern) steals a top secret formula andsets off to deliver it to the mysterious Dr Crow (played by Judith Furse but voiced by John Bluthal, fact fans), head of the Society for the Total Extermination of Non-Conforming Humans (S.T.E.N.C.H.) Owing to a shortage of agents, the chief has to send bumbling idiot Williams, alongside new recruits Cribbins, Hawtrey and Windsor. They stumble from one crisis to another as they tail Milchmann and The Fat Man, trying to get their hands on that formula. Agent Carstairs (Dale) is also trying to retrieve the formula but is frequently thwarted (and injured) by his colleagues. In the end they need the help of double agent Dilys Laye to save their bacon and get home safely with the formula.
Having expertly lampooned the swashbuckling genre in Carry On Jack, Rothwell displays a deft touch here with a masterly Bond spoof and, honestly, there are few better examples - Casino Royale (David Niven version) and the first Austin Powers movie, maybe. This has it all, exotic settings, dangerous liaisons, secret rendezvous and sinister villains. And some pretty good performances - Williams is instantly likeable as the clumsy but well-meaning agent and Babs Windsor doesn't get her clothes off and run around giggling like a loon all the time. Cribbins and Hawtrey underplay their roles to perfection and there's an excellent turn from Richard Wattis as the sour Head of Security.
All that said, this still only gets 7 out of 10 from me - mainly because it's in black and white but also because the climactic scene features two minutes of footage we've just seen being run backwards. And yes, I know that was on purpose. It manages, despite the money and invention that has obviously gone into it, to still look just a little bit cheap and tatty. It's a minor quibble but one that, for me, just stops this being a classic Carry On.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Cleo
The series hits double figures with Carry On Cleo. And frankly it's tens all round for this marvellous comedy based on the stories of Cleopatra (naturally), Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. The phalanx of regulars here are James, Williams, Hawtrey and Sims. Kenneth Connor makes a return, presumably having sacked the agent who advised him to give the last two films a miss. Jim Dale leads the irregulars whilst further down the bill, Peter Gilmore racks up the third of ten Carry On appearances, Ian Wilson makes the last of his six and, almost unnoticed, Michael Nightingale racks up the third of thirteen. Back up the top of the bill there's a welcome return for Amanda Barrie and Warren Mitchell has a cameo as slave merchant Spencius (of Markus and Spencius, of course). Talbot Rothwell is once again in charge of the screenplay, although Shakespeare clearly had the original idea. And is also worth noting, trivia fans, that the film's most famous line, "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!" wasn't actually written by Mr Rothwell, but was lifted wholesale, albeit with permission, from the radio series Take It From Here, written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden.
The Romans are in Britain and it's raining. Caesar (Williams) is having a horrible time and back in Rome the Senate are moving against him. His friend Mark Antony (James) advises him to return home to look after the affairs of state. Before they go though, there's just time for one last raid to pick up some more British slaves, including the useless Hengist Pod (Connor) and his neighbour Horsa (Dale). Back in Rome, Caesar decides that, in order to pacify the Senate, he needs to sort out the trouble in the East of the Empire, so dispatches Mark Antony to support Ptolemy in his attempt to overthrow Cleopatra. Of course, on his arrival Mark Antony is much taken by Cleo and switches sides, so to speak. Meantime back in Rome, Hengist and Horsa escape the slave merchants and hide out with the vestal virgins. When Caesar comes to consult, they end up saving his life by killing his would-be assassins. Horsa takes his chance and flees whilst Hengist hangs around and takes the glory, becoming Caesar's personal bodyguard. Caesar then decides to go to Egypt to meet Cleo for himself, in order to "forge an alliance" but Antony plots with Cleo to kill him. It takes a bit of cunning and the intervention of Horsa for Caesar and his bodyguard to escape back to the relative safety of Rome. Where he is stabbed. And lucky old Mark Antony gets to live happily ever after with Cleo. All of which makes the film sound dull but it isn't - this is one of the most watchable throughout with nary a duff moment.
It's worth noting that this was filmed and released not long after Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's epic Antony and Cleopatra. A film which cost a staggering £35million at the time. The Carry On version cost about a two-hundredth of that, coming in at little more than £165,000. And I know which I'd prefer to watch.
And although this is not my personal favourite, I have to give it 10 out of 10. It's got everything - great characters, great script, funny jokes, a bit of the trademark sauciness and of course, Amanda Barrie. There is little doubt that this is the first of a little run of outstanding Carry Ons - seven out of the next nine join this in my top ten list. Carry On Cleo though is almost flawless; an absolute classic.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Cowboy
Yee-haw! It's off to the Wild, Wild West of er, Surrey (Chobham Common, to be precise) for the western spoof, Carry On Cowboy. The rootin', tootin', regulars here are Williams, James, Hawtrey and Sims. Plus there are debuts for stalwarts Bernard Bresslaw and Peter Butterworth. Connor goes AWOL again, presumably kidnapped by his agent for ignoring his advice... Irregulars on show here are Jim Dale, minor players Peter Gilmore and Percy Herbert, Sally Douglas finally gets a credit in her fifth Carry On appearance and Angela Douglas gets a main role for the first of her four Carry Ons. Script duties still in the more than capable hands of Talbot Rothwell.
Stodge City is a pretty peaceful kind of place till The Rumpo Kid (James) rolls into town. He teams up with saloon owner Belle Armitage (Sims) and pretty soon they're running the rowdiest joint in town. The Rumpo Kid also finds time to assemble a gang and do some cattle rustling. When Judge Burke (Williams) finally convinces the Sheriff to run Rumpo out of town, Rumpo guns him down. Now he's got the town in his pocket. Burke wires Washington for help cleaning up the town and they send him a Marshall. Marshall P Knutt (played by Jim Dale), sanitation engineer, to be precise. Holy misunderstanding, Batman. For a while though he colludes with Judge Burke and manages to convince Rumpo that he is a real Marshall. Only other person knows the truth - Annie Oakley (Angela Douglas), who came into town on the same stagecoach. She's looking for the man who shot her pa. Along the way she anonymously helps Marshall out of a couple of scrapes with Rumpo and teaches the sanitation engineer how to shoot. Just in time for the final showdown between Marshall and Rumpo and his gang, when Marshall's knowledge of drains comes into its own. This being a Carry On, you can't kill Sid James, so he's saved by (the) Belle and they ride off together.
Another corker from the Carry On guys and worth a 9 out of 10 from me. It probably suffers a little in comparison with the films that came before and after, but it's clear that the cast are having great fun and they've got some quality material to work with. If you're at all a fan of Westerns and, in particular, comedy Westerns this is a treat, up there with Blazing Saddles. Ride 'em Cowboy!
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Screaming
No apologies if this turns out to be a bit gushy, but Carry On Screaming is my all-time favourite Carry On film of all time. It's a hammy Hammer Horror spoof. Regulars providing the thrills here are Williams, Hawtrey, Sims, Butterworth and Bresslaw. Jim Dale leads the irregulars, there's a sizzling return for Fenella Fielding, Jon Pertwee makes the last of his three appearances and further down the bill Tom Clegg makes the fifth of his six. Completing the link between the Carry On and Hammer, Frank Forsyth appears in the seventh of his eight Carry Ons, having also done Hammer's The Evil of Frankenstein, with Peter Cushing. Harry H Corbett comes in to do his only Carry On, replacing a sadly unwell Sid James, and frankly, does a splendid job. Screenplay once again in the capable hands of Talbot Rothwell.
In Edwardian England, someone (or some thing) is kidnapping young ladies down in Hocombe Woods. When Doris Mann (Douglas) disappears during a late night liaison with Albert Potter (Dale), Detective Sergeant Bung (Corbett) investigates. The kidnapper has at least left them a clue this time - a finger. A great, hairy finger. The question is, who does it belong to? And does it have anything to do with the suspicious characters inhabiting the nearby Bide-A-Wee Rest Home? Well, of course it does. Dr Orlando Watt (Williams) and his vampish sister Valeria (Fielding) are using Oddbod (a re-animated homo gigantus), to kidnap the girls and are turning them into mannequins. Valeria tries to distract Bung by seducing him but the situation becomes a lot more complicated after Police forensic scientist, Dr Fettle (Pertwee) manages to create a whole new being from Oddbod's finger. With Oddbod and Oddbod Junior now on the loose, no woman is safe in Hocombe Woods. Nor indeed, any man disguised as a woman, as Constable Slobotham (Butterworth) finds to his cost. Luckily Bung and Potter come to his rescue. They solve the mystery, Dr Watt meets a grisly end and Bung gets the girl. Or at least he gets Valeria, who, quite frankly, apopears to be more than adequate reward.
This is, for me an absolute treat. It skewers the Hammer genre pretty much perfectly and has genuinely funny moments in all the way through. Fenella Fielding looks absolutely gorgeous, Harry H Corbett is splendid and the rest of the cast are on top form with not a duff performance to be seen. In fact, the only jarring note of the whole thing is struck by the opening tune, in which an uncredited Ray Pilgrim exhorts his girl to carry on screaming because "when you're screaming, I know that you're dreaming of me." Take it from me chief, if your girlfriend wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, that's not usually a good sign.
It'll come as no surprise to find that this gets a big 10 out of 10 from me. If it was possible I'd give it 11, to be honest. (Mind you, I realised the other night that I need to go back and revise my scores, Cowboy is only an 8 really and Spying a 6, so I'll have a think about that over the weekend.) There's a lot to enjoy here, from spotting the Hammer references to picking up on the musical in-jokes. Like I said, my personal favourite. It's brilliant.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Don't Lose Your Head
Friday 13th wouldn't be a Friday 13th without something going wrong. So, after the nightmare of a journey home that took twice as long as usual, I was delighted to find that my PC wouldn't boot up. And when I did eventually get it going, I couldn't access my website to upload this update. So apologies for it's rather tardy appearance.
It's the first of the two films that didn't actually have Carry On in the title, Don't Lose Your Head. This was due to a change in distribution company, with Rank wary of legal issues and apparently uncomfortable with being associated with Anglo Amalgamated's successful franchise. Anyway, les regulaires ici are James, Williams, Hawtrey, Butterworth and Sims. Jim Dale and Peter Gilmore head les irregulaires. Further down the bill we find Marianne Stone making the fourth of nine appearances and Michael Ward making the last of five. Also on the bill is Jacqueline Pearce, who later played havoc with many a young boy's hormones as Servalan in Blakes 7. Screenplay duties in the hands of Talbot Rothwell again, thus notching up his seventh of the series.
This time we're in France. (But of course, we're not - the furthest they get from London this time is Aylesbury.) The Revolution is in full swing and the aristocrats are in it up to their necks. In Madame Guillotine, of course. And the feared chief of the secret police, Citizen Camembert (williams) is overseeing the executions, assisted by his faithful servant Citizen Bidet (Butterworth). News of the Revolution finally reaches the ears of bored, society fops Sir Rodney Ffing (James) and Lord Darcy Pugh (Dale) who decide to lift a finger, or two, to help their French cousins escape the tyranny. Soon Ffing ("Effing, with two f's") and Pugh are causing havoc with the executions and become known as The Black Fingernail, due to the distinctive calling card they always leave. Camembert is determined to catch him and eventually hatches a plan. Travelling to England is disguise, they lure him into a trap. And this time instead of fighting for someone else's lives, Ffing and Pugh must fight for their own.
It's a pretty obviously based on the Scarlet Pimpernel story and one wonders how they managed not to get sued by Baroness Orczy's estate for it. Probably because the estate believed them when they claimed it had nothing to do with the Scarlet Pimpernel, but didn't bother to actually check the film to be certain. Anyway, the film also features a first for the series when there is a scene where James and Dany Robin (playing the love interset) both speak direct to camera. It's not a technique I'm particularly fond of but it seems to work OK here. That aside, it's clear that once again things are on top form, with the cast having a great script to work with and clearly having a riot in this costume drama. Charles Hawtrey, in particular seems to be having a whale of a time as the Duc de Pomfritt.
That said, this is only gets an 8 out of 10 from me. It is quality, the puns are as good/bad as ever and the settings are magnificently done. However, Sid's turn from lisping fop to all-action hero doesn't quite convince me - I think it's his attempt at the fop that don't quite ring true. And although there's plenty to enjoy here, there are times when it seems to drag a little. This is still top ten material though. Vive La Farce!
Go on, stick your oar in:
Follow That Camel
It's the second of Rank's entries into the Carry On canon, Follow That Camel. The regulars on active service here are Williams, Hawtrey, Butterworth, Sims and Bresslaw. I've been referring to Jim Dale as an irregular, but as he did eleven films (including Carry On Columbus), I suppose he really deserves a place as a regular. Of the real irregulars, Peter Gilmore notches up yet another appearance, Angela Douglas stars as the love interest and Julian Holloway makes the first of eight Carry On appearances. John Buthal gets to work on his second Carry On but this is his first appearance, as in Spying he only provided the voice of Dr Crow. Phil Silvers joined the team as a late replacement for Sid James, who had television commitments to fulfill. As it turned out that was both a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing because Sid suffered a heart attack whilst the film was being shot, so it might have been scrapped, or at least seriously delayed, while he recovered. Yet it was a bad thing because the producers thought the American star might help the film in the US, not realising that Silver's popularity had declined since the end of Sgt Bilko.
We're back in society England in 1906 and, after a row about cheating at cricket, Bertram Oliphant West (Bo, to his friends) is disgraced. Fearing he has lost everything - his standing in society, his honour and his sweetheart - West(played by Dale) packs his bags and sets off to join the French Foreign Legion, accompanied by his loyal valet Simpson. Arriving in North Africa they encounter Sgt Bilko, er, Nocker in a cafe, enjoying a liaison with Zig Zig (Sims), and he directs them to the nearby garrison to enlist. The garrison is run with an iron fist by Commandant Burger (Williams) despite the wishy-washyness of his second-in-command, Captain Le Pice (Hawtrey). It is also a garrison constantly under threat from the native Riffs, led by Sheikh Abdul Abulbul (Bresslaw) and they can't afford to turn away recruits. West and Simpson though have trouble adapting to the Legion until they recognise Nocker from the cafe and use their hold over him to get an easy life. Meantime, back in Blighty, news of West's departure comes as a great shock to his sweetheart, Lady Jane (Angela Douglas), and when the truth comes out that West didn't cheat, she sets off to find him. Cue a number of vignettes in which men take advantage of a single woman, travelling alone, including Commandant Burger, who turns out to be Jane's old fencing instructor. Whilst this is going on, Sheikh Abdul is using his exotic dancing girl, Corktip (played by Anita Harris), to lure Nocker and West into a trap. A trap they willingly fall into. They are captured and taken to the Sheikh's desert camp. Jane turns up at the Cafe ZigaZig looking for West and is also captured by the Sheikh. Luckily, Simpson is on the case and attempts a rescue, which sadly fails. However, Nocker does get away but by the time he gets to the garrison, the truth about his lone patrols has been uncovered and no one believes his story. When the Legionnaires do set out on a rescue mission , it is too late. The Sheikh and his men have decamped, leaving West and Simpson staked out in the sun. Learning that the Riffs intend to attack Fort Soixante-Neuf (Hyack! Hyack! Hyack!). The Legionnaires set off for there. Along the way, there's a fight among the men and all the injured are sent back to get reinforcements whilst a brave handful march on to the Fort. When they get there, they find that all the men at the fort have been killed. Not only that but the Riffs have returned, intent on adding them to the tally of the dead. The brave few make a stand but, despite their tricks and traps, all seems lost until Le Pice turns up with the reinforcements to save the day. All's well that ends well and back in Blighty, Jane and West have settled down together, although that baby looks a bit odd. And just who is that chap bowling the explosive delivery on the cricket pitch...?
Phew! I've been trying to summarise the plots but it appears I've just described this one wholesale. I must remember to be more succint in my summaries. Anyway, this is another corker. Fairly obviously ripping off the Beau Geste legend, Talbot Rothwell delivers another quality script. There's a bit more obvious innuendo in this one but it's still not at the point where it overwhelms the film. (In fact, as you watch the films in order you can spot the gradual increase in the levels of sauciness.) Dale and Butterworth work together excellently and Williams does a surprisingly good turn as a sadistic German. Phil Silvers IS Sgt Bilko here, but then the role was written with him in mind, so that shouldn't be a surprise. Bresslaw gets a major role here, as Sheikh Abdul, and he hams it up, complete with comedy accent and funny foreign way of the speakings. These days, you wouldn't get away with it, of course. It also has to be said that Rye and Camber Sands do a good job of standing in for the Sahara Desert.
Overall another 9 out of 10 from me. This one has just about everything you want from a Carry On - misunderstandings, bumbling fools, a decent villain, an actual story that goes somewhere and a heap of innuendo piled on the top. Still no out-and-out rudeness on show here and, despite his absence, you don't miss Sid James' cackling at every piece of smut in the script. Definitely one of the top ten Carry Ons.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Doctor
After the historical-slash-costume drama spoofs of the previous few films it's back to familiar territory for Carry On Doctor. Pretty much the complete line-uip of regulars is here - James, Williams, Hawtrey, Sims, Windsor, Jacques, Butterworth, Bresslaw and Dale. In fact only Kenneth Connor is missing. Further down the bill there are appearances for Peter Gilmore, Marianne Stone, Julian Holloway and Dilys Laye. Anita Harris makes a second appearance and the nominal guest star is Frankie Howerd. The screenplay is once again in the hands of Talbot Rothwell.
Dr Tinkle (Williams) and Matron (Jacques) run their hospital with a rod of iron. But for the patients of Fosdick and Caffin wards there is a litlle light in their lives in the shape of the personable, accident-prone Dr Kilmore (Dale) and, of course, the adorable nurses, including Nurse Clarke (Harris) who is madly in love with said doc. Things bump along with the various patients and their strange ailments (or non-ailments in James' case) until Dr Tinkle's life is disrupted by the arrival of Nurse May (Windsor) who has a crush on him because he once saved her life. He's caught in a compromising position with the nurse by Tinkle and the Matron, but persuades Matron to take his side. When Dr Kilmore is later caught in a compromising position on the roof of the nurses' home (don't ask) Matron and Tinkle seize the opportunity to dismiss the troublesome medic. The patients, outraged at the collusion btween the two senior members of staff and disgruntled with the unsympathetic treatment they've been getting, stage a revolt. They give Dr Tinkle and the Matron a dose of their own medicine before forcing them to re-instate Dr Kilmore.
After the high jinks and inventiveness of the previous few Carry Ons this one hits you in the face like a wet sock. It's largely identical to Carry On Nurse, with bits of the Doctor series of films thrown in, and seems to be going nowhere fast. There are some funny lines in it and some amusing characters but for the first time it feels like the Carry On series really is just repeating itself and recycling the same old jokes. There's even a reference to the daffodil scene at the end of Carry On Nurse.
I just don't like this one and think it's one of the few clunkers that Talbot Rothwell produced during this fertile period. I can only give it 5 out 10. If you must watch a medical Carry On this is probably the one to watch but once you've seen one, you can really have seen them all.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Up The Khyber
It's a return to form for this the 16th outing as the team Carry On Up The Khyber. Regulars on duty here are Williams, Hawtrey, James, Butterworth, Sims and Bresslaw. For the irregulars, Terry Scott returns to the fold, Angela Douglas plays the love interest (again) and Julian Holloway and Peter Gilmopre put in appearances. Roy Castle comes in for the unavailable Jim Dale and after a bit of a casting re-shuffle Cardew Robinson cameos as The Fakir in a role originally written for Tommy Cooper. Oh and Patrick Allen once again does a bit of uncredited narration. The screenplay is handled by Talbot Rothwell as per usual.
I'm sure I don't really need to give you a plot summary, but here it is anyway. India, 1895 and the British are lording it up. Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond (James), is Governer of Kalabar and maintains a diplomatic entente with the local ruler, the Khasi of Kalabar, Randi Lal (Williams). He is also Commander of the men guarding the Khyber Pass - the 3rd Foot & Mouth Regiment of the Highland Guards. A regiment feared for their refusal to wear anything under the kilt, earning them the nickname among the local Burpa tribes of 'Devils in Skirts'. They are so feared that the locals dare not rise against them. However, during a border encounter with Private Widdle (Hawtrey), Burpa chief Bungdit Din (Bresslaw) discovers that in this case something is worn under the kilt - woollen pants. It'd be a disaster if the truth came out so Ruff-Diamond heads off to the Khasi to quash any rumour. Unfortunately the two men he takes with him, Capt. Keene (Roy Castle) and Sgt-Major Macnutt (Scott) both have pants on, so that's ruled out. Calling an impromptu inspection, Ruff-Diamond discovers all the men are wearing pants, and what's worse Lady Ruff-Diamond (Sims) has photographic proof. Smitten with the Khasi she delivers the phot, and herself, to the arms of the Khasi. Warned of her betrayal by the Khasi's daughter, the Princess Djelli (Douglas), Keene, Macnutt and Widdle cross the border to Jaksi to mount a rescue mission, using dissolute missionary Brother Belcher (Butterworth) as their guide. Unfortunately, although they manage to make it back, they don't recover the photograph and the Khasi uses it to persuade the Burpas to attack the border post. After slaughtering the sodiers there, the Burpas advance upon the Governaer's palace in Kalabar. After assessing the situation, Ruff-Diamond decides to trust to the remaining soldiers to defend the palace, whilst he hosts a dinner party. His guests are all resolutely stiff-upper-lipped as the Burpas attack the palace, except for Brother Belcher, who is driven to hysteria by the rest of the party carrying on as if nothing was happening oputside. In the end Ruff-Diamond and his senior officers pop outside and join the fighting. And the Devils in Skirts win the day by proving that this time there really is nothing worn under the kilt.
Although this film featured the remotest location filming of any of the Carry Ons, they still never made it outside of the country. Instead, the mountainous scenes were all filmed in Snowdonia, around Llanberis. The Snowdonia shooting took a week and the rest of the film was filmed on sets at Pinewood Studios over the course of about three weeks. Allegedly, the Welsh mountains looked so much like those of Afghanistan that servicemen wrote in saying they recognised the place immediately. I fancy this may have been a bit of marketing guff. Another little known fact about this film is that it is this film that particularly influenced the naming of this website. Yes, it's all down to Bernard Bresslaw's dismissal of the magician with the immortal words "Fakir. Off!"
Back on form here, and this is an all-time classic of all time, so has to get 10 out of 10. The film neatly skewers the whole stiff-upper-lip culture of the colonial era. It also throws in plenty of decent gags about tiffin, has some quality lines and goodly helping of that saucy innuendo that later came to ruin the film series. If there's one quibble I have it is that I would have preferred to see Jim Dale play Roy Castle's part (ooh-er, missus!), but apart from that this is pure Carry On gold.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Camping
What can I say? Day 17, and it's time for Carry On Camping. The regulars packing up their troubles here are Williams, Hawtrey, James, Sims, Jacques, Windsor, Butterworth and Bresslaw. Irregulars helping out are Terry Scott, Dilys Laye, Julian Holloway and Michael Nightingale. Also, Valerie Leon makes the second of her six appearances (having first been in ..Up The Khyber). Also pitching up for her one and only Carry On is Betty Marsden, who was well-known for her work on the radio show Round The Horne. The screenplay is done by Talbot Rothwell, as per, and apparently went through several re-writes before they settled on the camping theme. Some of the unused material apparently got recycled in Carry On Behind.
It's the Swinging Sixties we're definitely in now (the film was released in 1969, by the way) and, hey, everyone's going camping. There's Sid (James) and Bernie (Bresslaw) trying to get their girlfriends to a nudist camp, there's Charlie Muggins (Hawtrey) the camping virgin, there's Peter Potter (Scott) and his dreadful wife Harriet (Marsden) on their annual holiday and lastly there's Dr Soaper (Williams) and Miss Haggard (Jacques) taking the girls of Chayste Place school on a summer trip. Needless to say, after some misadventures on the way, they all pitch up at the Paradise camp site. Sid and Bernie have the sort of comedy capers putting up their tents that my mate Kev and I used to have when we went camping, and then they promptly ditch their girlfriends (played by Sims and Laye) once the schoolgirls arrive, focussing in particular cackling sex dwarf Barbara (Windsor) and her friend, Fanny. Having been reluctant to embark on the holiday, Peter Potter finds himself further put out when he's attacked by a bull and then shot at by an irate farmer. It's the last straw when his wife "adopts" Charlie Muggins and lets him share their tent. Meantime Dr Soaper and Miss Haggard have trouble controlling the girls and themselves (well, Miss Haggard does). And presiding over all this is Josh Fiddler (Butterworth) the campsite owner, who spends his time either trying to screw money out of the guests or worrying about his hens.
I'm kind of ambivalent about this one - there are some great performances (Butterworth, Scott, Marsden) and overall the film is pretty amusing, BUT this film also clearly marks the decline of the Carry On franchise. There's the gratuitous nudity at the start, and Babs Windsor flashing her norks too. There's also less innuendo and more smut. If I was pushed, I'd say this is the film where the Carry Ons "jumped the shark". There's still some decent films to come but this one is definitely the beginning of the end. Perhaps it's a bit unfair to blame her personally, but whenever Babs Windsor is in a Carry On, it is, generally, a bit rubbish. You could argue that she only came into the series late on and the general quality of the scripts and films was decreasing anyway, but I'd say her increasing presence only underlines the decline of the series.
As this is acknowledged as one of the classic Carry Ons and does have it's high points, I'll have to give it 8 out of 10. I would have given it more - certainly Butterworth's scene with James at the camp gate deserves better - but the smut's laid on with a trowel, we've seen that relationship between Jacques and Williams at least once before and the idea that Sid and Bernie could pull some schoolgirls is frankly ludicrous. Oh, and that hippy festival scene towards the end is risible. Oh dear, still 13 days to go and things don't look good from here on in.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Again Doctor
It's off to Long Hampton Hospital for Carry On Again Doctor. On duty this time are James, Hawtrey, Williams, Dale, Windsor, Sims, Butterworth and Jacques. Irregulars include the dependable Peter Gilmore, Patsy Rowlands, Valerie Leon, and Frank Forsyth (in his last Carry On). Also appearing is Wilfred Bramble, meaning that both Steptoe AND Son have clocked up a Carry On. And making an uncredited appearance is the man that, according to Half Man Half Biscuit, 99% of gargoyles look like, Bob Todd. The screenplay is handled by the increasingly hit-and-miss Talbot Rothwell, who apparently adapted a rejected script that he'd done for the Doctor.. series of films.
It's a film of three halves, Brian, as Dr Nookey (Dale) the accident-prone-yet-loveable medic gets himself into a lot of trouble with Matron (Jacques), Dr Stoppige (Hawtrey) and senior surgeon Mr Carver (Williams). It all culminates in one final episode when, sabotaged by Dr Stoppige, he makes a drunken fool of himself and ends up losing everything, including his girlfriend, actress-model-whatever, Goldie Locks (Windsor). Mr Carver has, in the meantime been soaping up Mrs Moore (Sims) in the hope of getting her to pony up the dosh for his new clinic. In order to get into her good books, Carver packs off Nookey to Mrs Moore's medical mission in the Beatific Islands. The resident orderly at the mission, Gladstome Screwer (James) isn't exactly delighted to see the doc as he's got a cushy life going - no one comes to the mission for treatment (they all use the local witch doctor) and his wives and children are living in the ward. Still, he tries to help the doctor out and as a result of one good turn, reveals a miracle slimming serum created by the local medicine man. Realising it's potential Nookey strikes a deal for supplies with Screwer and flies back to England to make his fortune. Just in time to miss Carver who flies out to see him at Mrs Moore's request and gets stuck there for three months. While Carver is stuck on the Beatific Islands, Dr Nookey sets about making his fortune, setting up a lovely new clinic with backing from Mrs Moore. (Yes, it's the Moore-Nookey Clinic. Hilarious.) When Carver returns, he's shocked to see how succesful Nookey is and sets out to destroy him. Also turning up is Gladstone Screwer, and he's after a fair share of the profits. Cue the comedy capers as each man tries to get what he wants. And not only does Nookey have to deal with them but who should come back into his life but Goldie Locks, now known as Melody Madder and a successful film star in Italy. Can Dr Nookey satisfy all three interested parties?
With the, frankly, limp Carry On Doctor still fresh in our minds, there was surely no need for a return to the medical so quickly was there? Well, despite the fact that we have to put up with dumpy Babs Windsor exposing more flesh than a butcher's window, this isn't actually as bad as I feared it might be. There are a few decent gags in there and one or two classic set-pieces and a few dependable plot-devices. It's a bit sillier than the previous medical Carry Ons too - with Dale and others upping the ante on the stunts. Plus, this does at least have a plot of sorts, unlike Camping which was just a series of comic set-pieces based on a theme.
So, for not being as crap as I expected this gets 5 out of 10. It's not in my list of essentials but I'd certainly stay in to watch it on a rainy Sunday afternoon or even a rainy Wednesday evening. Perhaps the most worrying thing about this film is knowing that there are still 12 to go in my marathon and some of the remaining ones make this look like a work of genius. I'm quite tempted to wave the white flag now and pack it all in. However, having come this far, I'm determined to stick it out (Hyack! Hyack!). Just as long as I don't get arrested for it.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Up The Jungle
Lawks a-mercy it's off to the dark continent for the 19th caper in the series, Carry On Up The Jungle. The regulars on safari this time are James, Hawtrey, Sims, Bresslaw and a returning Kenneth Connor. The irregulars joining them are Terry Scott, Frankie Howerd, and Valerie Leon. Jacki Piper makes the first of four carry On appearances, taking the lead romantic role usually occupied by Angela Douglas. Absent from this production is Kenneth Williams, who was busy filming his TV show. And Jim Dale turned down the role of Jungle Boy and didn't appear in a Carry on again till the lamented Columbus in 1992. Screeplay once agian done by Talbot Rothwell, and despite his earlier purple patch, maybe it was time to try someone else.
It's Tarzan meets She meets Cannibal Holocaust. Well, maybe not the last one. Lady Evelyn Bagley (Sims) has organised a safari to try to find her long-lost son, Cecil (Scott). Joining her on the expedition are Professor Tinkle (Howerd) the ornithologist and Chumley (Connor) his assistant. Making up the party is June (Piper), Lady Bagley's maid. Their guide is alcoholic, hunter Bill Boosey, with his manservant Upsidaisi (Bresslaw). As they venture deep into the jungle (well, Pinewood set) they have a run-in with a gorilla, are followed by the Jungle Boy (Scott) and stalked by the Nosha tribe (they're cannibals, see). Young June finds a pool, goes for a swim alone and has a close encounter with Jungle Boy. He's instantly infatuated. The expedition party end up captured by the Noshas. They get away but then get captured by the all-female tribe, the Lubis. Turns out their king, Tonka the Great (Hawtrey) is Bagley's husband. Unfortunately for Howerd, Connor and James, the Lubi women have no other men and they are forced to mate with the women. Hard life, but there are a lot of women and they all want seeing to. Luckily, the faithful Upsidaisi has organised a rescue party. Which arrives just as Jungle Boy stages a rescue of his own. Our Carry On-ers escape but the rescue party gets captured after being bushwhacked by stampeding elephants. Oh well, the Lubis will look after them, I suppose.
This is an undoubted improvement on the last film, but there's almost too much crammed in here. Perhaps they could have cut out the Noshas and expanded on the other parts and made the film feel a little less rushed. On the other hand, if the pace had dropped a bit, perhaps we would have noticed that some of the characters are a bit rubbish, the jokes are screamingly obvious and that the Jungle set was less than convincing. We might also have mused on the un-PC-ness of Bernie Bresslaw blacking up and donning a curly wig. (Although Bernie did, apparently, learn his lines in a genuine African language. Which was a complete waste of his time as the genuine blacks in the film were all of Caribbean origin...) Whatever the pace of the film it was not hard to see why Jim Dale refused to play the part of the monosyllabic idiot, Jungle Boy. Incidentally, despite playing the mother of Terry Scott's Jungle Boy, Joan Sims was actually three years younger than him.
Score on the door? Well, despite my reservations, this passes the time really quite quickly and is amusing in places, so scores a solid 6 out of 10. A workmanlike outing for the team - never out-and-out hilarious but never quite falling back solely on smut and innuendo for laughs. If this is in the Top Ten at the end of the series it'll be number nine or ten I should think.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Loving
Love is a losing game, so Amy Winehouse says and we're off on a loser here - it's Carry On Loving. The regulars performing their conjugal duties here are James, Jacques, Williams, Hawtrey, Sims, and Bresslaw. Butterworth also appears but blink and you'll miss him. Irregulars include Terry Scott, Julian Holloway, Jacki Piper and Patsy Rowlands. Joan Hickson returns for the fourth of her five Carry Ons, having last appeared in Carry On Regardless. Bill Maynard makes the first of his 5 appearances. Richard O'Callaghan comes in as a replacement for Jim Dale, with limited success (he only made two Carry Ons). And further down the bill, there's a turn for Mike Grady, better known as Ken in Citizen Smith, and Barry in Last of the Summer Wine. Screenplay by, yes, you guessed it, Talbot Rothwell.
Sidney Bliss (James) run the Wedded Bliss Agency with his partner Sophie (Jacques), and they use computer dating to match up their clients in the town of Much-Snogging-on-the-Green. Yes, that's about as subtle as it gets. Of course, Sid is also using the agency to play the field and string along his partner, who he promised to marry a long time ago but seems to have gone cool on. Anyway, the clientele of the agency are all a bit odd really, and the compuuter that supposedly matches them up doesn't actually work - it's a just a load of junk and Sophie in the back office actually does all the work. Cue a series of comic sketches as the clients come in, get matched up and go off on their dates, all with hilarious consequences. There's the naive virgin Mr Muffet (O'Callaghan) who accidentally picks up a model who is expecting a photographer. The Mr Philpott gets sent to meet a girl with a decidedly creepy family and makes an ass of himself. And Sid himself has a disastrous time with his bit on the side, Esme Crowfoot (Sims) when her boyfriend, the wrestler Gripper Burke (Bresslaw) returns home unexpectedly. Meantime, for those courting couples who need advice where better to turn than to Percival Snooper (Williams) the marriage guidance counsellor at the Citizens Advice Bureau? Well, anywhere to be honest - the man is a confirmed bachelor and he too is forced to seek out the services of the Wedded Bliss Agency. Having employed a private detective, Mr Bedsop (Hawtrey) to tail Sid and discovered the extent of his infidelities, Sophie herself makes a move on Mr Snooper. Just as Sid's love life starts fallng apart though Philpott's and Muffet's are blooming. Mr Muffet hits it off with model Sally (Jacki Piper) and Philpott discovers that his first date, Jenny (Imogen Hassall) has escaped the influence of her family and turned out to be a right cracker, and no mistake. In the end, after a few more comic misadventures, love finds a way and it all turns out right for Sid and Sophie, culminating in a massive food fight at their wedding. Obviously. The same food fight currently being used in them sodding Bounty adverts.
Well for a film with Loving in the title, there ain't any actual "loving" going on, although the action is frequently interrupted by a game couple who seem to be trying to set a world record for necking. This also has more of a feel of the early Carry Ons, with a number of set-pieces being built around a central point, but with little or no plot development. This time though the comedy and wit have been abandoned for lazy reliance on smut and innuendo, with whole sketches being premised on people talking at cross-purposes, usually about sex.
Overall, it's a disappointing 4 out of 10. There's nothing here to detain you - no exceptional set-pieces, very few genuine laughs and the Carry On team seem to drain all the sex out of, well, sex. If, like me, you're on a mission to get through the entire catalogue, then try to get this one out of the way early on, and if you're not a Carry On completist, then this one can probably be safely avoided.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Henry
More moralising on the nature of love as we hit number 21 in the series, Carry On Henry. Members of the royal court of Carry on in attendance here are James, Williams, Sims, Hawtrey, Connor and Windsor. Peter Butterworth puts in an even more fleeting uncredited cameo than last time out. The minor courtiers are led by Terry Scott, with Patsy Rowlands, Julian Holloway and Peter Gilmore. Norman Chppell make a second Carry On appearance after having his scene deleted from Carry On Loving. There's even a Marjie Lawrence in this film although, having checked, it's not my Aunt Marjorie, which is a shame because I could have asked her all about the film at next week's family gathering. Anyway, the screenplay, yadda, yadda, Talbot Rothwell.
Yes, the Carry On team are tinkering with history in this tale of Henry VIII's other two wives. One (un-named)Queen (Rowlands) is heading off to the executioner and as the deed is done, Henry (James, of course) is away to marry his next bride, Marie of Normandy (Sims). Unhappily, she turns out to be a garlic-munching terror and the King is put off straight away. - he can't stand garlic, you see. He instructs Lord Chancellor Cromwell (Williams) and Cardinal Wolsey (Scott) that they must get rid of her. Having helped him dispose of at least four previous wives, they find the task is more difficult each time. They advise the King to delay consumating the marriage whilst they try to sort things out. In the meantime, the King's tester, Sir Rodger De Lodgerley (Hawtrey) has already tested the Queen out, so to speak. And elsewhere in the court Lord Hampton of Wick (Connor) is plotting against the King. There are some capers as the King tries to avoid getting into bed with Marie and a failed abduction attempt, but then news of the Queen's pregnancy becomes known. Her cousin, Francis, the King of France (Gilmore) is delighted with the news. Henry is not so, as he's not responsible. Also, he has become infatuated with Lady Bettina (Windsor), the Queen's new lady-in-waiting. Realising that if he gets Sir Rodgwer to confess to his part (ooh-er!) in the Queen's pregnancy, he can divorce her and marry Bet, the King gets Cromwell and Wolsey on the case. The Queen is locked in the Tower of London and Sir Rodger is tortured until he confesses. Unfortunately, it all goes pear-shaped when the Queen manages to get a message to Francis and he turns up with an army demanding to see the Queen. Cue capers as Francis discovers Bet in the Queen's bed and Hampton turns up with Marie, determined to expose the King's treachery. Henry manages to buy Hampton's silence, and throws Cromwell and Wolsey in the Tower to prevent them exposing his plot but has to accede to King Francis' and Queen Marie's demands in order to prevent a war with France. All's well that ends well and despite losing Bet to Francis, Henry is much taken with the Queen's new lady-in-waiting, Katherine Howard. Unsurprisingly Cromwell and Wolsey decide they'd rather be executed than go through all that again.
Well, apart from the diabolical liberties that Talbot Rothwell appears to have taken with history, this one is pretty decent. Still let down by the presence of cackling dwarf Babs Windsor, in my opinion, but even she can't spoil this. The team are back on solid ground doing what they did best - taking an already existing story and mucking about with it. Hawtrey gives one of his best performances and here James' lothario act stands up because he is the King - he can do what he wants. Williams is also excellent as the scheming Cromwell.
Overall, a good 7 out of 10 for this. It's edging towards an 8 and I think will definitely make the top ten at the end of the month. Good solid performances, a few good running gags and plenty of that innuendo we all like. And it features future Darth Vader, Dave Prowse, as a torturer, although his does use his own voice. If only they'd thought to call in James Earl Jones to overdub it...
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On At Your Convenience
It's back up to the modern day and into the world of work for Carry On At Your Convenience. The regulars clocking in are Williams, Hawtrey, James, Sims, Jacques and Bresslaw. The part-time staff include Patsy Rowlands, Jacki Piper, Bill Maynard and Marianne Stone. Richard O'Callaghan returns for his second and final Carry On. Magaret Nolan's magnificent figure makes the third of six Carry On appearances. Julian Holloway also makes an uncredited appearance. Also worth noting for the older members of the audience is the appearance of Geoffrey Hughes, who later found fame as Eddie Yeats in Coronation Street. And Kenneth Cope, who starred in TV Series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), makes the first of two Carry On appearances. The screenplay is in the capable hands of Talbot Rothwell, once again.
It's all about the trials and tribulations of the staff and mangement of WC Boggs & Son, toiletware manufacturers. Up in the office Mr Boggs (Williams), works foreman Sid Plummer (James) and designer Mr Coote (Hawtrey) are putting a new design through it's paces, aided by Mr Boggs' secretary, Miss Withering (Rowlands). Down on the factory floor, bolshie union leader Vic Spanner (Cope) is stirring up trouble again. He's outraged by Lewis Boggs' (O'Callaghan) decision to axe the tea round. He takes the workers out on strike, again. With the factory at a standstill, everone goes home. Well, Vic tries to get canteen girl Sally (Piper) to go on a date, but she blows him out in favour of Lewis. Sid goes home to a rather dismal dosmetic scene but he discovers that his wife's budgie, Joey, has a knack for picking winners at the horse races. This turns out to be really useful later. Anyway, the strike is resolved, the workers are all back in the office and Lewis returns triumphant from an overseas sales deal with a contract for 1,000 bidets. Boggs Sr. overcomes his resistance to manufacturing them, especially when they work out the profit margin on the deal and OKs the production. Sadly, the bank refuses to back them but Sid stumps up the cash instead, aided by the aforementioned bird. All looks set fair but then Vic spots that the new fitting on the bidet is crossing labour demarcation borders - it's a combined tap and waste pipe fitting and thus can't be fitted by either the tap fitters or the waste pipe fitters, as they'll be doing each others' job. He takes the workers out on strikem again. They stay out for two weeks and the factory looks like losing the contract and going bust. Boggs decides to sell to save the workforce. The workforce return, but not to save their jobs - they don't know they're in danger - but to go on the annual works outing to Brighton. Cue capers as stuff Boggs gets drunk and his secretary takes advantage. And the rivalry between Lewis and Vic finally gets settled when Sally plumps for Lewis. Meanwhile Sid tries his best to get off with neighbour Chloe, despite the fact they're both married. After the trip to Brighton the threat to jobs comes out and Vic's mum rounds up the women workers and the men's wives and they storm down to break the strike and save the factory.
Absolute classic Carry On this one - it has plenty of toilet humour (of course) but also wit and decent writing. Sadly, though, the protrayal of the Union leader as a bit of a clot didn't sit well with the Carry Ons largely working class audience and this film was a relative flop. Most of the films hit their break even point after three days release (because they were so cheap) but this one didn't pull in the numbers and didn't break even until it had been released in Europe.
It scores 8 out of 10 from me. It's a corker. It's got a good story, with a decent sub-plot or two, and the jokes are pretty funny. Of course, it'd be a shame if they couldn't hit the spot in a comedy set in a toilet factory. The actors appear to have a great time and the location shoot in Brighton looks like it was a definite hoot. Top hole!
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Matron
Making almost as many return visits to hospital as George Best, the team are back on the wards for Carry On Matron. The fully registered regulars here are Williams, Hawtrey, James, Jacques, Sims, Connor, Windsor and Bresslaw. The ancillary staff are headed by Terry Scott, with Jacki Piper, Patsy Rowlands, Bill Maynard, Valerie Leon and Margaret Nolan amongst the rest filling out the minor roles. Kenneth Cope comes in for his second and final Carry On. There are also appearances by future Eastenders stalwart Wendy Richard and future Everton chairman Bill Kenwright. Also making his first appearance is that one-trick pony and signifier of rubbish Carry Ons, Jack Douglas. Screenplay by Talbot Rothwell, knocking out his 17th Carry On in the space of 9 years. No wonder some of them were a bit patchy...
We're at Finisham Maternity Hospital this time round. A hospital run by the hypochondriac Dr Cutting (Williams) and Matron (Jacques) who is in love with him (shocker!). Not only do they have to deal with awkward cases like Mrs Tidy (Sims) who eats like a horse but shows no sign of producing her overdue baby, but there's another danger in their middst. Yes, it's scheming Sid Carter (James) and his gang, who are looking to steal a load of contraceptive pills for sale abroad. Sid goes in to have a recce but decides the only way to get a proper map of the layout is to send in his son, Cyril (Cope), disguised as a nurse. Unfortunately Cyril's planned quick look round turns into an extended stay, as first he has a run-in with the lecherous Dr Prodd (Scott), then gets billeted with Nurse Ball (Windsor) and then has another entanglement with Dr Prodd. To cap things off, he then ends up on the front pages of the newspapers after helping film star Jackie Darling (Leon) have triplets. Following his heroics, Matron gives "Cyrille" the day off but on returning to the nursing home, Nurse Ball discovers his secret. She agrees to keep quiet on the understanding that he's going straight once the heist is over. Meantime, when Sid visits the hospital to talk to Cyrille, Matron becomes suspicious and follows him. Sid makes a narrow escape and decides they must do the job that night. So come nightfall, the job is on. The gang manage to get into the hospital and past the security guard but then things go a bit pear-shaped. They get their hands the contraceptives but find themselves locked in the hospital and pursued by staff and patients alike. In the end they have to strike a deal to get away. Whilst the crime caper has been going on the romantic sub-plot between Matron and Dr Cutting has been developed, mainly by way of comedy misunderstanding, and the film ends with the two marrying. At the ceremony are Cyril and Nurse Ball, who have become an item and Sid and the rest of the gang. As Sid outlines his next caper the two henchmen, Ernie (Bresslaw) and Freddy (Maynard) exchange glances and then do a runner.
It has to be said, the plot here is a bit of a clunker. The comedy crime caper has been done better and the romance between Jacques and Williams runs almost exactly the same course as their previous relationships in both Carry On Doctor and Carry On Camping. Plus Ken Cope doesn't fool anyone in his attempts at crossdressing. Of course, that's largely the desired effect for comedic purposes, I suppose. And for all the flaws with the plot, the dialogue is excellent - Williams and Jacques both get some splendid lines, along with Hawtrey's psychiatrist. And Sid plays better as small-time crook than the lecherous types he usually played.
Overall this has to be a 7 out of 10. Possibly the best hospital comedies and probably because it didn't concentrate on the patients too much. The resolution might be a little glib, but the story gets told, the boys get the girls and everyone lives sort of happily ever after. Certainly in the running for the end of season top ten.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Abroad
After churning them out at the rate of about two a year, the series slows down to just one a year now, with 1972's offering Carry On Abroad. Pretty much a complete cast of regulars are booked in for this trip - Williams, Hawtrey, James, Connor, Sims, Jacques, Butterworth, Bresslaw, and Windsor. Also along for the ride are the irregulars - Patsy Rowlands, Derek Francis (the last of six Carry Ons for him), June Whitfield (second of four, first since Nurse), the harbinger of doom Jack Douglas, and Hugh Futcher. Jimmy Logan comes in for the first of his two Carry Ons and Sally Geeson, who starred in Bless This House, does likewise. The screenplay is, as ever, in the capable hands of Talbot Rothwell.
It's 1972 and the package holiday is still pretty much a novelty, so it's ripe for a send-up. And here a disparate group go on a four-day getaway to the Mediterranean island of Elsbels. There's Vic Flange (James) who was planning a dirty weekend with Sadie (Windsor) till his wife Cora (Sims) got to hear about it and decided to go along with him. There's a repressed couple, Evelyn and Stanley Blunt (Connor and Whitfield). There's also Mr Tuttle (Hawtrey) travelling alone, the aforementioned Sadie, a couple of young girls looking for fun and a party of priests, including Brother Bernard (Bresslaw), who are off to the tomb of St Cecilia. Looking after the lot of them is Stuart Farquhar (Williams), the tour guide. They arrive in Elsbels and, shocker, their hotel isn't finished. Not only are the top four floors not built but there are only three staff - Pepe (Butterworth) who does everything. Giorgio (Ray brooks) who does nothing and Floella (Jacques) the cook. They do their best to accommodate the party but there are one or two, or three, or maybe half a dozen, things wrong; the shared bathrooms, the unfinished wardrobes and drawers and the dangerous balconies to name but four. Not to mention the teething troubles in the kitchen where Floella just can't work her cock, er sorry, coke-powered ovens. Still, having managed to get past those minor inconveniences, most of the party head off on a sight-seeing tour. Evelyn Blunt gets left behind and Giorgio, if you'll pardon the expression, finally does something. The sightseers meanwhile are enjoying the market, whilst the priests are visiting the tomb of St Cecilia. One of the stallholders is flogging a dodgy love potion call Liquer D'Amoura and more than a few of the party are stocking up. However, when the Brits are abroad, you know trouble can't be far behind and Mr Tuttle sparks outrage in the local stripclub by trying to play leapfrog. It descends into a full-scale fight involving the rest of the sightseers and then the priests and they all spend the night in the police cells. When they get out, it's back to the hotel for a farewell party. Pepe lays on a champagne punch and everyone spikes it with a good helping of Liquer D'Amoura. Cue scenes of drunken lechery, with even the priests getting in on the act, having been persuaded to have "just one glass". Outside the hotel, a storm is raging and storm waters flood under the hotel, ruining its foundations and the whole thing comes tumbling down. Luckily, the various romantic plots have all been resolved and everyone escapes before the hotel collapses. Cut back to Vic's pub some time later and various characters all turn up for a re-union including Mr Tuttle, who closes the film.
I mention Mr Tuttle because, sadly, this was to be Charles Hawtrey's last Carry On. After a solid run of 18 consecutive Carry Ons and appearing in all but one of the series (Carry On Cruising being the one he missed), he was unable to resolve his differences with the film's producers over his position in the credits and so left the series, never to return. Indeed, he made only one more film and appeared in an episode of SuperGran and lived a fairly reclusive life in retirement. Not quite the end of the era, but another sign that the end was nigh.
Perhaps another sign was the rather dreadfully stereotypical lines that Butterworth, as Pepe, had to put up with. Or more appropriately, had to be "making the puttings up with". That and the fact that yet again Sid James was playing the lothario despite the fact he's got a face like a walnut. A pickled one at that. All in all, despite some good gags (I was especially amused to spot the balloons arranged like a penis and testicles in the background at the farewell party) the series here starts to show a bit of wear and tear. Maybe it's because they just introduce a load of characters and there's no sense of a back story or a common history between them. Or maybe it's because the cackling dwarf, Babs Windsor, gets too much time on screen again.
Perhaps a little controversial but I'm only giving this 5 out of 10. It's by no means bad, but it's not particularly great either. In fact, it's a bit dull. It may pass the time pleasantly enough on a late Friday evening but given what's gone before it's not really up to scratch. There are better Carry Ons worth checking out before you get to this one.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Girls
It's off to the sleepy seaside town of Fircombe, for Carry On Girls. The regulars taking the sea air are James, Sims, Windsor, Connor, Butterworth and Bresslaw. Irregulars also on the promenade include June Whitfield, Jack Douglas, Patsy Rowlands, Valerie Leon, Marianne Stone, and Joan Hickson. And the odious Robin Askwith, later to star in the downmarket Confessions... series, makes his one and only Carry On appearance. Talbot Rothwell turns in what proves to be his penultimate Carry On screenplay.
As mentioned before, we're down by the seaside in the sleepy town of Fircombe and local councillor Sidney Fiddler (James) persuades the Mayor (Connor) that they should run a beauty contest in order to boost tourism. Seems like a good idea but they reckon without the Women's Libbers, lead by Councillor Augusta Prodworthy (Whitfield). She's against it, alright. Not looking too amused either is Sid's long-time dalliance Connie (Sims), who finds herself corralled into putting up the contestants for free in her hotel. Sid also ropes in Peter Potter (Bresslaw) the PR man to help him. And Potter travels down from London, leaving behind his austere looking girlfriend, Paula (Valerie Leon). Things start going downhill when Miss Easy Rider, Hope Springs (Windsor, of course) arrives and starts a catfight with Dawn Brakes (the lovely Margaret Nolan) during the first publicity shoot. And then there's the hilarity of Bernie Bresslaw in drag as a publicity stunt. That (predictably) backfires when the police arrive, along with Potter's girlfriend Paula. All the while the Women's Libbers have been making the Mayor look a laughing stock - not a difficult task - and plotting to disrupt the contest. On the night of the show, they put itching powder in the girls outfits, sprinkle pepper on the contestants and then turn on the fire sprinklers. Fiddler finds himself run out of town, with Hope Springs hot on his heels. Just about everyone else gets to live happily ever after.
Despite the acres of cleavage on display, this is a bit of a letdown. Williams and Hawtrey are obviously missed and it falls to Jimmy Logan to play the camp role and he makes a bit of an arse of it. The other thing is, this film is noticeably a Babs and Sid vehicle, and they may have been an item in real life but on-screen their relationship looks like your uncle trying to get off with one of your girlfriend's mates. It's just wrong. Not even decent performances from Butterworth (as the lecherous Admiral, a hotel resident) and Bresslaw can disguise the gripping, not-very-goodness of this film. For example, the battle of the sexes set-up ends, without any deviation from predictability, with the women coming out on top (ooh-er!) as they always do in the Carry Ons. As another example, Paula's transformation from uptight, repressed secretary to sexy siren involves the standard removal of spectacles and shaking out of hair. Gosh, how novel. And furthermore Kenneth Connor's performance as the Mayor appears to be an exercise in self-parody whilst Joan Sims apparently phoned in her performances. Worse still though than the easy resort to cliche and the lacklustre acting, is the increased screen time given to Jack Douglas, a one-trick pony whose trick does not bear repeated viewings. (He's the guy doing the tedious physical spasms stuff throughout, if you haven't guessed.)
So, out of 10, I can only give this 4. That may be a tad harsh, as there is much worse to come, but really, I didn't find this funny. Definitely in the bottom ten of all time.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Dick
The Carry On crew stand and deliver once again, with the 26th outing in the series, Carry On Dick. Regulars on patrol here are Bresslaw, Butterworth, Connor, Jacques, James, Sims, Williams and Windsor. Heading up the irregulars are Jack Douglas, Patsy Rowlands, Bill Maynard, Michael Nightingale, Marianne Stone and Maragaret Nolan. David Lodge appears in his third Carry On, having appeared in Regardless and then having to wait twelve years before getting his part in Girls (ooh-er!). The screenplay was done by Talbot Rothwell and this one proved to be his last - an attack of nervous exhaustion near the end of the script-writing process not only meant that his daughter had to type up the final draft but it also put the mockers on a deal for a further five Carry On scripts. Mind you, it was perhaps not surprising he was exhausted - not only had he been knocking out Carry Ons at the rate of two a year for the last ten years but he'd also written the Carry On London stage show, the Carry On Christmas TV specials and done Up Pompeii for Frankie Howerd. sadly, after being advised to rest, he never wrote another thing and passed away in 1981.
'Tis 1750 and criminals roam England. The King has formed the Bowe Street Runners to try to cut down on crime but despite their successes, there's still one highwayman who eludes them - Big Dick Turpin (Sid James). So called because of the size of his weapon...(yawn!) Anyway, Captain Fancy (Williams) is tasked with apprehending Turpin and his gang. Aided by Sgt Jock Strapp (the appalling Jack Douglas) he travels north to track Turpin down, going undercover as a criminal. Of course, he lets the local vicar in on his secret, which is a bit of a shame as the Reverend Flasher is none other than Turpin himself. There then follows some comic episodes where Fancy is outwitted by Turpin and then later taken to be Turpin by the slow-witted local constable, who promptly arrests him. There's also a bit of frippery with Joan Sims and her troupe of "models" which seems to be included largely to up the cleavage count. (Not that Babs isn't managing that on her own as Turpin's saucy assistant, Harriet.) In the end, when the truth finally dawns on Fancy, he tries to arrest Flasher on leaving his church one Sunday morning, only for Turpin to outwit him again and escape, riding off into the sunset with his accomplices.
Couple of major problems with this one, I'm afraid. One is the increasing amount of screen time given over to cackling sex dwarf Babs Windsor and the other is that we've seen this film before in the shape of Don't Lose Your Head. Apart from a few minor changes the plot is virtually identical. Even the normally flag-waving notes accompanying the DVD admit as much. The whole affair is, therefore, as predictable as the references to Babs' norks and as about as amusing. Worse still, there aren't any decent comic characters or good performances to lighten up proceedings.
Sorry to say but I'm afraid this only gets 4 out of 10. The wholesale recycling of plot, characters and jokes just seems lazy and uninspired. And even what new jokes there are in the piece are unsubtle and unamusing. "Big Dick" indeed. That said, there is something about this film that makes it more appealing than some of the others in the series, so I reserve the right to come back and change my rating later.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Behind
Hey, hey, hey, it's the first full day of Glastonbury and I'm at home watching Carry On Behind. The regulars who signed up for this one are Williams, Butterworth, Connor, Bresslaw and Sims. The irregulars include Patsy Rowlands, Jack Douglas, Marianne Stone, and David Lodge. Making his eighth and final Carry On appearance is Billy Cornelius and Hugh Futcher notches up his seventh. Liz Fraser returns for her fourth Carry On, having not been seen since Carry On Cabby. Special guest star is German totty Elke Sommer. There's a bit of an Army connection with Windsor Davies, Donald Hewlett and Ian Lavender all turning out - Davies and Hewlett starred in It Aint Half Hot Mum and Lavender in Dads' Army. There's also a Coronation Street connection as both Mike Baldwin, aka Johnny Briggs and Mrs Reg Holdsworth, aka Sherrie Hewson are in this too. Larry Dann sets what must be the record for time between Carry Ons, making his second appearance 16 years after being in Carry On Teacher. The screenplay is handled by Dave Freeman this time out. Mr Freeman had plenty of experience, including writing the Carry On Laughing TV series and contributing to the Christmas specials.
Archaeologist Professor Crump (Williams) and visiting Russian expert Professor Vooshka (Sommer) are off to a dig of some Roman ruins on a campsite. It's the height of summer, of course, so also on their way to the camp site are two single girls looking for "fun", a couple of married men likewise, a hen-pecked husband with his wife and mother-in-law and a couple and their enormous dog. Crump and Vooshka are forced to share a caravan and there are hilarious consequences over that. In fact, there's just general hilarity to be had from Vooshka's mangled English. Meantime Ernie (Douglas) and Fred (Davies) have convinced their wives that they're off on a fishing trip and have met up with Carol (Hewson) and Sandra (Carol Hawkins), Unfortunately, their attempts to impress the girls backfire and they end up destroying the girls' tents. Elsewhere on the campsite Arthur Upmore (Bresslaw) is putting up with his wife (Rowlands) and her mother Daphne (Sims), who has insisted on bringing her pet Mynah bird with her. The relationships deteriorate even more when the bird escapes. And there are misunderstandings galore as Arthur goes in search of the bird, whose favourite phrase is "Show us yer knickers!". As the two professors get to grips with their living arrangements and each other, the girls ditch Fred and Ernie for some strudents who arrive to help out on the dig, Fred and Ernie's wives turn up unexpectedly, and Arthur's mother-in-law is re-united with her husband. And that's about it.
It doesn't sound much and that's because it isn't much. Dave Freeman makes sure he sticks to the tried-and-trusted Carry On formula by basically copying Carry On Camping, but replacing the tents with caravans. Sure there are one or two tweaks but nothing too radical; Windsor Davies and Jack Douglas play the Sid James and Bernie Bresslaw characters from Camping, Butterworth appears to be wearing the same outfit from that film and Bresslaw himself gets the Terry Scott role, albeit with Sims as the unwelcome third party instead of Hawtrey. And to complete the symmetry, this was shot in the same location - Pinewood Orchards.
Overall, 5 out of 10. Not a bad film per se but a pale imitation of the glorious Carry On camping. And whilst I don't miss the cackling of Babs Windsor, there's clearly a Sid James-shaped hole in the film. A hole that Windosr Davies just can't fill. I have seen a case made that this is an overlooked gem but, in the context of the series, the best you can say is that it is the least worst of the final few films and certainly the last of the ones worth watching.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On England
The end is nigh and the series almost ends up back where it started - in the army - with Carry On England. The only regulars enlisting this time around are Connor, Sims and Butterworth. Kenneth Williams, Babs Windsor and Bernard Bresslaw were all unavailable, and although never slated to be in this film, Sid James died before the start of filming. The territorial army of irregulars include Julian Holloway, Michael Nightingale, Jack Douglas, Windsor Davies, and David Lodge. The familiar names joining the cast here are Patrick Mower, Judy Geeson (sister of Sally) and Melvyn Hayes (Gloria from It Aint Half Hot Mum). Diane Langton came in to do the Babs Windsor part. Screenplay was handled by David Pursall and Jack Sneddon, who had presented it originally for the Carry On Laughing TV series. Another regular absent from this one is composer Eric Rogers, who pulled out of scoring the film when budget cuts reduced the orchestra from 40 to 20 players.
We're back in the war years, 1940, to be precise and 1313 Experimental Battery is giving the Army no end of trouble. Having sent their best officers down there and seen them all fail, the top brass take a new track and send one of their worst - Capt S. Melly (Connor) - to have a crack at it. And what is it? Why, it's a mixed battalion, with both men and women in service. Except the only thing they are servicing is each other. Cpt. Melly, assisted by Sgt-Major Bloomer (Windsor Davies) tries his best to instill discipline, whilst the soldiers, led by Sergeants Able (Mower) and Willing (Geeson) try to get on with the business of knocking each other off. Not that there's much else to do - they're an anti-aircraft battalion without a gun. As the battle of wits between officer and soldiers continues the ante is upped considerably when an anti-aircraft gun is finally delivered. The batallion then have to pass an inspection in order to continue their existence. Of course, they pass but not without incident. Incidents affecting Cpt Melly, mostly.
I think you can generally judge a Carry On by the standard of the characters names and Captain S Melly, has to be the worst, weakest gag name in the entire series. Swiftly followed up by Sgts Willing and Able and Privates Ready and Easy. Notably here too, out has gone the subtle wit, the double entendre and the gentle humour and in has come a load of single entendres, gratuitous nudity and absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. Even the clean jokes are delivered badly. This is a disaster from beginning to end and not even Windsor Davies manic turn as the Sgt-Major can save this from the dung heap. Absolute toss. No wonder not many of the regulars were in it - if they'd read the script they would have known instantly to avoid it. Even Pink Floyd, who originally put up half the money to finance the film, pulled out of this one. And if you want an example of the level this sinks to, well, take the Reveille scene. When the Reveille sounds through the speakers in the barracks, both the men and the women sit up in their beds to complain. In the men's hut, all the soldiers are wearing pyjamas whereas next door the women all apparently sleep naked, or topless at least.
Score on the door, er, well, there isn't one. Oh alright 1 out of 10, but only for Windsor Davies' performance, despite the fact he'd been playing that character for a couple of years in It Aint Half Hot, Mum. This is, as far as I'm concerned the absolute worst film of the series. Dreadful from start to finish. Odious characters, preposterous set-up and no wit or subtlety at all. Avoid like the plague.
Go on, stick your oar in:
That's Carry On
Celebrating 20 years of the Carry On films, along comes this compilation, That's Carry On. Regulars? Well technically they're all in it, along with plenty of the irregulars, but the only new scenes in this compilation are the linking sequences featuring Kenneth Williams and Babs Windsor. The dialogue for their scenes was written by Tony Church, but later Williams claimed to have changed much of it.
There is no plot really, it's just Ken and Babs in a projection booth, mucking about and watching edited highlights of virtually all of the films in the series. The only one that doesn't make the final cut appears to be Carry On England, for which we should be truly thankful. Otherwise the rest are all present and correct, although the clips are shown with scant regard for the chronology of the releases. And in some cases, scant regard for the order of the scenes in the actual films. The clips themselves were chosen by the director and the producer of the Carry Ons, Gerald Thomas and Peter Rogers, whittled down from an original selection that was over six hours long.
Call me a curmudgeon but I can't help feeling that we would have been better served by a concentration on the better films in the series here rather than by the potted highlights of each and every one we get. That way, we could have avoided some of the clunkers in the series and the jokes and set-ups in the other films could have had a bit more screen-time and probably made a bit more sense. On the other hand, only a true devotee like myself would surely have watched all those films, so if it encouraged people to go back and have a look at some of the others then all well and good.
Overall though, it's a 3 out of 10. The linking shots between Babs and Ken are pretty weak - the innuendo and stuff is almost as overdone as in Carry On England - and Babs seems enormously pleased with herself despite appearing in less than a third of the films. And the highlights don't work - they're too short to convey much of the theme or plot of each film and some of the jokes fall flat out of context. This is one for the completists only, as they say.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Emmannuelle
And so we reach the end, the last of the accepted Carry On canon, Carry On Emmannuelle. The regulars hauling their creaking comedy bones back on set for this are Williams, Sims, Connor and Butterworth. The irregulars include Jack Douglas, Larry Dann (fourth Carry On), Michael Nightingale, Eric Barker and Victor Maddern. The hitherto umentioned Gertan Klauber also makes the last of seven Carry On appearances. Making their one and only Carry On appearances are Suzanne Danielle and Beryl Reid; the sublime and the ridiculous. (Please yourselves about which is which.) And for all you connections fans, Albert Moses and Dino Shafeek, who appear here, also starred together in the TV series Mind Your Language. Screenplay, for this film, handled by Lance Peters, based on a X-rated novel and toned down considerably for this Carry On.
The plot, or flimsy excuse for gratuitous nudity and endless innuendo, revolves around the French ambassador to England (Williams), his wife Emmannuelle (Danielle) and their troubled sex life. Ever since a close encounter with a church steeple during a parachute jump, Emile has been unable to fulfill his wife's desires. With his blessing she has getting her oats elsewhere, with as many and varied partners as she can. On her way over to England, she seduces a nerdy, mummy's boy, Theodore Valentine (Dann) who becomes obsessed with her and starts stalking her. Whilst Emmannuelle cavorts across London having erotic encounters with all and sundry, Valentine is following her and taking pictures. He reveals all to the tabloids, who have a field day and Emmannuelle appears on television to defend herself. Which she does by seducing the interviewer during the live broadcast. As you do. In the end after seeing to half of London and the winning team and the referee at the Cup Final (a team playing in a very familiar Manchester red strip, it has to be said) she gets what she really wants when Emile finds himself able to rise to the occasion again. And she gets a bit more than she bargained for because it turns out that sneaky Emile has replaced her contraceptive pill with a fertility pill. Cue hilarious scene in hospital with sextuplets when nurse says they look like their dad and the camera pans to reveal a room crammed with candidates-cum-suspects.
I thought Carry On England was the worst, I may well have been wrong. There's nothing at all funny in this film. Plenty of nudity, including dear Kenneth Williams himself exposing more flesh than might have been advisable, but not a single laugh-out-loud moment. Williams' delivers the wobbliest French accent in history - veering from the south of France to south of Fulham in an instant - and is matched by Danielle's accent being so heavy that some of her lines are almost unintelligible. The other Carry On regulars are wasted in inconsequential roles that appear to have been written solely to give them something to do. The plot is as flimsy as one of Ms Danielle's negligees and the jokes are, well, pretty much non-existent. In fact, this is pretty much a blueprint of the sort of sex comedy that the British used to do so badly in the Seventies. Not only does it have a cheesy disco theme tune, most of the sex is implied and the producers spent so long on working out how to get the occasional flash of flesh past the censors that they neglected the script. Dreadful from start to finish.
I'm afraid I can't even bring myself to give it one. Or a score out of 10. (And, believe me, that's funnier than any joke in the film.) Yep, 0 out of 10. Absolutely no redeeming features - no great performances, no classic gags, no nothing. If Carry On England was scraping the bottom of the barrel, this is turning the barrel over, scraping the mud and slime off the outside of the bottom, grilling some bread and serving the two up as toast and pate. This shouldn't be avoided like the plague, this should be avoided like the Biblical plagues of Egypt.
And that's it. Thirty days and thirty films. I'm now going to take an evening or two off, catch up with my sleep, and come back to give you my considered lists of the ten best, ten worst and ten not-the-best-or-worst. Just in case you were planning to start up your own Carry On viewing society or film library. And then I've got a few other movie projects I could work on. None of which will involve watching a film a day for a month, because that's just madness.
Go on, stick your oar in:
Carry On Commentary
So, I've had a week's rest, some decent nights of sleep and a chance to reflect on the CarryOn-athon. so, here are some of the questions I've been asked during the course of the last month or so.
I've always had a soft spot for the Carry On films and my memories of them are mostly good. But I don't think I'd ever considered the series as a whole and my opinion of the series seemed to be based around a third of the films. I needed to to check them out and see how my opinion might change. Plus, I wasn't that interested in Euro 2008 amd June has thirty days, coincidentally the exact number of films that I had to watch, so I put two and two together and came up with a stupid idea.
Which is your favourite Carry On?
Screaming. Next question
Did you really watch all of them?
I cannot tell a lie and so I have to admit that I did watch them all but not necessarily on the day I reviewed them. I managed to sneak in a couple extra during the second weekend and so was almost always ahead of myself. I wrote up reviews after I'd watched the film but didn't post them until the relevant day, which is how I managed to go to the annual Lawrence family gathering and watch-slash-review 'That's Carry On'. I ought to point out though, that not only did I watch the films but I also checked out the extras on the DVDs too. On most of them this stretched as far as some trivia information, publicity stills, the cinematic trailer and audio commentary from some minor stars. On the later ones the extras also included episodes from the Carry On Laughing TV series. If you thought England and Emmannuelle were bad, you should see some of these. Clearly all shot in a studio for a cost of about three quid, most of which must have been spent on drugs, because they clearly didn't spend anything on sets, scripts or jokes. I think I found watchingv those dreadful TV shows more disheartening than the films...
Why didn't you include Carry On Columbus?
Apart from the fact that it's a sham of a mockery of a travesty of a farce? Two reasons - firstly, although it's recognised as a Carry On film, it isn't acknowledged as part of the classical canon. It is, in fact, the bastard offspring of the series. And the second reason for not reviewing it is that I don't actually have a copy of it on DVD or tape, and it's not currently available in the shops.
Is there a general rule of thumb that I can use to determine whether a Carry On is worth watching?
There's a couple of simple rules. Anything starring Jack Douglas is probably best avoided. The higher up the bill he is, the worse the film is. And then it depends on whether you find Babs Windsor attractive or not. It seems no coincidence to me that she isn't in most of the best ones. And let's not forget she only starred in nine of the films. Generally speaking, you can avoid the films with Babs in.
What's the best way of classifying the Carry Ons?
There is the obvious way of deciding which are the top ten, the bottom ten and whatever is left over, but that always leaves people arguing that such-and-such a film deserves to be higher in the list or that the same film should be in another list. So I think that it is better to break them down into the Delights, the Decent, the Distractions, the Disappointments and the Dross. The Delights are those films that you must watch, the Decent are those that are worth checking out, the Distractions are those that are best saved for a wet weekend, the Disappointments are those you should watch with low expectations, and the Dross are, of course, those that you should never watch. There's always the question of personal taste of course, but having trawled through the lot I think I can offer the following table with some authority.
And if you don't agree with me, well, tough. You will respect mah authoritah!
What are you doing next?
Well, I'm not sure, but whatever it is won't involve watching and reviewing a film a day for a month. That was just madness. I do, however, have some other box sets I could work through. I've got two Horror box sets with 20 films each and a Comedy boxset, also with 20 films in it. These, I think, I've mentioned before. I picked them up cheap at a discount store and each contains a mix of stuff - some classic, some foreign, some you've never heard of. I've also got the Comic Strip Presents... box set, which has all 39 episodes in. I could do that as a side project, I think - one a week, on a separate page. That might work. My brother, Mark, also suggested I name my top ten films. I think I might have done that before so will trawl back through the site to find out. I'll see. As soon as I've decided, I'll let you know.
Go on, stick your oar in: