Happy 59th Anniversary to the Carry Ons

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Mel O'Drama, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Regardless - which I watched last night - is really quite a curio in the series.

    I probably don't need to bang on about the fact that it's essentially a portmanteau film - a series of short sketches tied together by the Helping Hands premise. Had I watched this immediately after Constable it could have been a bit jarring. Watching some Hudis-scripted episodes of Our House in their original chronological placement before diving into Regardless puts a different spin on things. In this context, the sketchy tone of the film feels quite organic. It's just like watching an episode of Our House with a bigger budget and some good guest stars. Which all adds weight to my feeling that the episodic nature of this film was heavily influenced by Hudis working on the TV series at the same time.

    This isn't the only factor at play here. There was a thirteen month gap between Constable and Regardless - the series' biggest to date. There would also be a thirteen month gap between Regardless and Cruising, meaning that Regardless exists in the kind of vacuum that is quite unusual for Carry Ons.

    While the randomness perhaps doesn't make for an overly satisfying experience compared with the other five Hudis films, the change of pace is refreshing as a one-off. And randomness is something that would become more acceptable in the series as time went on.

    With this in mind, what has really stood out for me this viewing is how broad things get in this series entry. While the actors each play one character throughout, there's the sense that they approach each task assigned their character in a different way, giving us motifs that would come to typify the series. A few examples:

    • Joan Sims plays Lily with kind of down to earth likeability that most of her early characters have, but when she is required to attend a wine tasting function we get the first appearance of the deliberately faux RP that would recur in her characters throughout the series (frequently accompanied by her "queete neece" phrase). As in later films, her dignity quickly crumbles. Here it's under the influence of alcohol and - as in Teacher - she does trollied epically.
    • Kenneth Williams as Francis is the well read upper middle aloof type that has typified his run so far, but there are more extremes here. When a modelling situation becomes vacant, his character's vanity is milked for all it's worth before he loses face altogether - a recurring motif for the rest of his run. Likewise, picking up from the department store confusion in Constable, Regardless's incident with Judith Furse and her schoolgirls sees his remarkably erudite character become tongue tied with miscommunication leading to his downfall. Perhaps most notably, Regardless has a moment where Kenneth breaks shamelessly into his "Snide" character.
    • After some leering at women in various states of undress in Constable, Sid James's Bert in Regardless goes into full-on lecherous mode and seizes an opportunity to give a physical examination to a queue of underwear-clad nurses (the "explanation" for them being practically naked is an example of the Carry Ons' existing in a completely different universe to ours, but I doubt many complained).
    • Charles Hawtrey's delicateness is played off to great effect with the boxing scene, and him chugging the body rub foreshadows the scene in Abroad where his character drinks the sunscreen (whether the Regardless scene was written as a pointedly deliberate satire of Hawtrey's alcoholism in the way that Abroad was is debatable. I like to think it wasn't).

    Liz Fraser's arrival brings a different kind of glamour to the series. The upmarket icy Hitchcock blonde embodied by Shirley Eaton and Jill Adams has been replaced by the more comical "dumb blonde" stereotype. So it's out with Grace Kelly and in with Marilyn Monroe. Which works better for the series is debatable. Personally I always felt that the "classier" female romantic leads brought an added dimension to the series, so I'm quite the fan of Angela Douglas and thought Jacki Piper struck a nice balance in her films. That said, it really doesn't have to be an either/or situation. Fraser has irritated me at times on previous watches, but last night I found myself enjoying her performance. She fits in well with the team and gives Delia a likeability. One moment where she kind of clicked with me was the scene where she was modelling underwear for a man to buy his wife when her client's wife arrived home unexpectedly. It took her quite some moments to realise why this could be a compromising situation, and this ingenuous quality made her very endearing indeed. I also enjoyed her character's friendship with Joan Sims's, which follows on from the "girls together" aspect of the Joan/Hattie relationships in previous films (and would have been the same here, presumably, had Hattie been well enough for more than her small but memorable role as the Sister).

    Had I watched this in 1961 it would have been easy to think this was the end of the Carry Ons. Not that Peter Rogers and the powers that be were thinking that way. Hudis threw everything at this including - in the final scene - the kitchen sink. Even if it had ended at this point, I think the Carry Ons would still be fondly remembered - if not quite as widely. But history tells this is just the beginning. And even Hudis still had one more trick up his sleeve.
     
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  2. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    Liz Fraser was a superb addition to the Carry On Team but unfortunately only for a handful of films, apparently the producers felt she spoke out of turn in going to the film distributors to advise how the films should be marketed.

    Swami
     
  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The past few days have seen me watching a double-bill of sub Carry Ons.

    Having recently watched them all, it occurred to me that Raising The Wind felt more like a Doctor film than a Carry On. James Robertson Justice's presence is the clincher, of course. He's his usual irascible self here. While produced by Peter Rogers and directed by Gerald Thomas there's no sign of Norman Hudis. This one was actually written by Carry On music man Bruce Montgomery based on his real-life experiences.

    For the first time, Kenneth Williams plays a villainous role in a Rogers/Thomas film and seems to relish doing so. Naturally his behaviour results in his comeuppance in the last act where his rudeness to the orchestra results in their playing him rather than their instruments - a scene that introduces Jim Dale to the arena, leading directly to his becoming a Carry On regular. Other Carry On regular include Sid James, Liz Fraser, Eric Barker, Esma Cannon, Victor Maddern, Joan Hickson and David Lodge. Past Carry On-er Leslie Phillips is here. Nurse's Jill Ireland has a role. Cruising's future cook Lance Percival is also here.



    Tuberculosis, loss of income, suicide ideation and infidelity all seem about as far removed from the Quality Street wrapper world of the Carry Ons as it's possible to get. Yet they're all ingredients in Twice Round The Daffodils from the team. Like Carry On Nurse, it's based on the play Ring For Catty. It seems a little odd on paper for the same producer/director/screenwriter team and many of the same actors to return to the same source material three years on, but it's actually a very different feeling film. I suspect Daffodils is a more faithful adaption of the source material as it just feels a bit more play like.

    Things do get a bit dark at times and Juliet Mills as the almost-titular nurse Catty seems to bear the brunt of it. The TB treatment involves many months in isolation, away from loved ones. Children grow; wives have to take jobs to make end meets; lovers give in to outside temptations and move on to another man. One such lover is Nanette Newman, who tries to shirk the responsibility of dumping Bob by asking Catty to pass on the message. In the end, she is persuaded to visit Bob who has worked everything out anyway and lets her go in one of the film's more touching scenes (and there are a number).

    Donald Houston's character, in denial of his condition, is whisked away for a bronchioscopy after some description of the procedure from patients who've had them (and it doesn't sound pleasant). Later in the film, weakened by both the condition and the treatment, he asks dewy eyed Catty to end his suffering and she gently but firmly refuses (slightly unprofessionally, too, since she tells him she won't speak of his suicidal thoughts to anyone. Though perhaps it also speaks to a more innocent, less litigious society). Houston and Mills, of course, would both make it to the Carry On series proper with the following year's Jack.

    Donald Sinden is present here, which is timely considering I'm in the middle of watching Two's Company. Here he's playing the lecherous moustachioed lothario in the Leslie Phillips mould. Joan Sims gives her middle aged spinster type (a gentler version of Carry On Doctor's Chloe Gibson) an outing as Kenneth Williams's sister. Lance Percival has a more prominent role here than in Raising The Wind, and seeing him here it's easy to see why he was a natural choice to replace Charles Hawtrey in Cruising. Matron is far less of a presence here than in Nurse, but is very formidable in her brief appearance thanks to a pre-Carry On Renee Houston.

    Catty and Bob end up falling for each other, as do another nurse and patient (Andrew Ray, whose naivety and innocent delivery reminded me very much of Richard O'Callaghan in a couple of early Seventies Carry Ons).
     
  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    With the three most recent instalments of Cruising, Cabby and Jack there are some major changes in the series.

    Out go Norman Hudis and Bruce Montgomery; in come Talbot Rothwell and Eric Rogers. For half a dozen instalments - between Regardless and Cleo - the main Carry On series will alternate evenly between black & white and colour. And the definition of what is or is not a Carry On is in quite a fluid place too.

    The plot of the first colour instalment - Cruising - is reassuringly familiar to anyone familiar with Sergeant or Constable: green recruits have to overcome their clumsiness to prove themselves to their grizzled superior who has something riding on the outcome. Hudis is still on the writing and Montgomery doing most of the music, though there are some (uncredited) Eric Rogers touches which hint at what's to come in the series and smooth over the transition between musicians. In particular the "exotic" flavours sound like Rogers's work: the Middle Eastern and Spanish pieces, for instance, are very similar to what would come in Follow That Camel/Up The Khyber or Abroad. Paired with accompanying scenes in which the characters dress up in stereotypical clothing for each country, it feels like the gang is warming up for the costumed capers that would kick off in earnest with Jack.

    Despite all the familiarity, this is the first time the core cast has changed so significantly. There's no Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques or Joan Sims. No Terence Longdon, Bill Owen or Joan Hickson. Even reassuringly familiar tertiary faces such as David Lodge and Victor Maddern are nowhere in sight. The only two familiar faces from the first few films are Kenneths Williams and Connor, here outranked by Sid James. Liz Fraser makes her second main series appearance and Esma Cannon also adds familiarity.

    The casting of Lance Percival, Dilys Laye and Brian Rawlinson seems very organic recently having watched some Carry-Ons-in-all-but-name in which each have appeared. Cruising is the first Carry On where there's a sense that the pieces of this repertory company are interchangeable. It mostly works, but not completely. I have to confess I find it impossible to watch Percival's performance without recasting him in my mind as Charles Hawtrey, for whom his lines were clearly all written. Laye feels more "right" here, her delivery being very close to how I imagine Joan Sims would have played it anyway.

    It's well documented that Cabby wasn't originally written to be a Carry On, and it does feel like a more traditional, gentle film in many ways and closer to some of the "almost" Carry Ons such as Nurse On Wheels which it immediately follows. There's a sense that this is Rothwell writing in the style of Hudis, though the story is more complex than the Hudis simplicity. Rogers, too, has some of that Montgomery sentiment to his music, balanced out with some quirk, such as Pintpot's frequently recurring motif. The jazzy main theme is a classic too. I think this is one of my the best Carry On scores.

    It's fascinating to see how nuanced the performances are. Jacques in particular plays a good deal of her scenes as Peg completely straight and the result is the finest Hattie film in the series. There are even moments of pure kitchen sink drama here and it's allowed to play out to maximum effect with no gurning or funny sound effects to try to soften the blow.

    I suspect this being a non-Carry on film influenced some of the actors who appeared. After the billing malarkey that excluded him from Cruising, Hawtrey accidentally slid back into the series here. He was quite fickle, so that's not to say he wouldn't have returned had this been sold to him as a Carry On - he was still working for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas here, after all. But I suspect this saved a lot of egos all round. Conversely, I find it difficult to imagine Williams wouldn't have appeared if he'd known this would end up as a Carry On, this being the first of only three films he'd miss in the entire series. Unlike some of the missing faces in Cruising, his absence isn't glaring in this film and there's no sense that someone is standing in for him anywhere. Likewise Joan Sims. The chemistry is between Jacques and Liz Fraser is excellent and it's only as I write this that it occurs to me that this was the first Carry On in which they have any screen time together.

    Following on from comments made by Hattie's characters in Teacher and Constable, she's given something of a feminist arc here. And when I say "something of", I mean that any true feminist would cringe at the sight of Hattie getting empowered by recruiting young female cab drivers based on the length of their leg or their cup size. Apart from Amanda Barrie's Anthea, the recruits are all one dimensional and bland. And lest we forget, Cabby ends with Peg impregnated - the whole campaign having been fuelled by her desire for blissful domesticity (though to balance it out, the campaign was somewhat successful, with Sid agreeing to her terms). It could generously be said that this started out with good intentions, but any exploration of feminism or even equality within Rothwell's Carry Ons is doomed. Still, poor as it is, at least there's a sense that there were some good intentions behind this. While Cabby objectifies a number of its women, it actually feels like a step up from the nurses stripping to their underwear in Regardless. And it's positively enlightened compared to the ball-busting, bra-burning ugly caricatures that would appear a decade later in Girls.

    Likewise, Cabby's the ardent unionist - the person who refused to allow Esma Cannon to drive a cab - is a gentler version of the brash and bolshy "everybody out" stereotype that would alienate the core audience in At Your Convenience (a film in which Jacques' character, too, would follow a similar trajectory to Peg).

    It feels that the Carry Ons became a victim of their own reputation - or title - past a certain point, but Cabby goes to show what can happen when there is no such expectation placed on it. It's a little odd that a title not originally made as a Carry On and with the absence of a couple of the players I enjoy the most (Williams and Sims) should end up as one of my favourite titles in the series, but there you have it.

    Jim Dale's entry to the series proper as an expectant father is uncannily similar to his arc in Nurse On Wheels, while Peter Gilmore (one of my favourite second-tier Carry On-ers) is devilishly handsome as a carjacking crook.

    Having visited many of the locations used in the series on a number of occasions, Cabby also has an added layer of enjoyment being quite location-heavy.


    I can only imagine that Jack would have come as quite a shock to audiences in 1963. A full-on historical period piece; a direct satire of a specific film and with only two Carry On regulars in lead roles.

    As with most of the period Carry Ons, there's no denying the film looks wonderful - right from the title card paintings that open it. The sets and the costumes bring a feeling of quality to the series more than any of the seven that preceded it. I'm assuming that both were utilised from other Pinewood productions (in fact I'm assuming Mutiny On The Bounty was actually filmed at Pinewood, which is why Jack was made in the first place).

    There's no getting around the sparseness of series regulars. Even more than the period setting, it's quite jarring. There's no Hattie, Joan, Sid, Kenneth Connor. Bill Owen has departed the series without ceremony following Cabby. Even Liz Fraser, Dilys Laye and Esma Cannon are nowhere to be seen. Neither do other familiar faces such as Eric Barker or Judith Furse appear.

    Like Cabby, the less familiar faces make sense in the context of Rogers/Thomas productions. Not only had Juliet Mills taken the lead role in Nurse On Wheels, she'd appeared with Donald Houston in Twice Round The Daffodils. Having watched both films recently, it's easy to understand why they'd be a logical choice for this film. Mills is a perfectly fine romantic lead, nicely bridging the gap between posh birds Shirley Eaton and Angela Douglas. Houston, too, is great here. I'm not sure why neither returned to the series (I hadn't given it much thought, but I suppose Houston's character was in the Sid James mould, which may at least partially explain it).

    Cribbins is a likeable romantic lead and strikes the right balance, managing to be both hopelessly naïve while remaining charming enough for me to believe that Juliet Mills would find him attractive. While watching, I found myself wondering what the series would have looked like had Cribbins been asked back after his "unprofessional" conduct in Spying. I think he would have worked well.

    Jim Dale and Peter Gilmore both make their second appearances in small but memorable roles, both hamming it up. Dale in particular seems to be very much enjoying the opportunity to prove himself a character actor at this point, something that there would be less opportunity for when he supplanted Cribbins to become the series' romantic lead. Gilmore is effortlessly menacing in his role as a pirate.

    Warfare, torture; the on-screen removal of a gangrenous leg and the suggestion of both potential and actual rape make this the grimmest Carry On so far, and probably the darkest entry in the entire series. For much of the time it doesn't feel like a Carry On (even with hindsight), but that doesn't mean it's not a really good film. It was certainly instrumental in broadening the Carry On palette for better or worse.
     
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  5. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    Carry On Jack seems quite underrated, I always reckoned it was a good film, possibly the absence of so many series regulars contributed to that perception.

    I love Carry On Cabby and Carry On Cruising, they are quite understated in relation to some of the later Rothwell scripts.

    Swami
     
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  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've been revisiting the audio commentaries for the first few films in the series. In general these kind of features can be hit and miss, I think. Some of them can lean towards being a bit dry. But it's nice to have them there for posterity.

    The best examples of this kind of feature, I think, are the ones that allow the viewer to feel as though they're listening in on a group of friends having a bit of a giggle while reminiscing. Teacher's commentary, which I've just finished watching, is a nice example this. The energy levels are high and the participants' enjoyment of each others' company comes across well. Robert Ross contributes just enough to keep things on track, but for the most part Peter O'Sullivan, Larry Dann and Paul Cole just get on with chatting about their memories, with some gentle, good-humoured teasing.

    A bit of a peek online led me to a few little titbits that I wasn't aware of before. It was a surprise to me, for example, to learn that Larry Dann played Dennis Tanner in the first dry-run of Corrie a year or so later. The entire casting for it looks rather intriguing and very different.
     
  7. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    I got my Carry On box set yesterday (complete with features which were produced for the 50th anniversary), it would be nice if an updated set was produced for the 60th anniversary next year.

    Swami
     
  8. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    A friend in the UK sent me "Carry on abroad" on DVD as a Christmas or Birthday gift. Anyway I finally got around to watch it last night and it was hilarious. :bah:
    I didn't think I enjoyed British humor but I guess I was wrong! :rlol:
     
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  9. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    I thoroughly recommend you get the full box set of all the movies - OK, you won't miss much if you don't watch England/Emanuelle/Colombus, but the rest will definitely get your attention!

    Swami
     
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  10. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the tip but I am not going to get a complete box set that is obviously aimed at the die hard fans after watching one movie.

    I might however watch another movie in the series though. Maybe "Carry on Cleo" would be a good next movie for me to watch considering how much I love the original "Cleopatra" and Taylor/Burton...
     
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  11. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    Carry On Cleo is very much an iconic movie in the series and yes, that would be an excellent choice for you.

    Swami
     
  12. Via The Void

    Via The Void Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Love the Carry On's. I love the bawdy puns & double entendre's.

    Adore the cast too. Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Connor, Jim Dale, Hattie Jacques, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor, Bernard Bresslaw & all the rest of them are a pure delight to watch. :)
     
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  13. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd forgotten how evenly - and dramatically - split the first fourteen Carry Ons were: a straight run of seven original, contemporary films followed by a further straight run of seven full period costume films which mostly consist of film spoofs (ok - Spying isn't strictly speaking a period film, but it's certainly operating within certain parameters that set it apart from the true contemporary films).

    At this point I'm almost halfway through the latter and the series has become a very different animal. It feels like most of the innnocence has left the series. So, too, has the subtlety.

    Spying is the broadest instalment so far. This is Barbara Windsor's first film, and it could be tempting to lay the blame for the noticeabe change in tone at her feet. Certainly, she is hardly the definition of restrained. Even by the standards of Babs's Carry On canon, this is one of her least subtle performances. There's gurning aplenty here, and her tits get plenty of screen space (albeit still covered up at this point) She is funny, but one feels she would be funnier if she wasn't trying quite so hard (a theory probably justified by seeing most of Windsor's return appearances in the series where she seems more relaxed).

    But then consider what Windsor is working with here. Kenneth Williams is in full caricatured flight. in his most OTT performance yet. This is the only film in the series in which he utilises his "Snide" character for the entire ninety minutes. Watching it this time I found it a little exhausting - the pitchy, nasal drawl threatening to give me one of my heads. Charles Hawtrey, too, gets plenty of screen time with there being a somewhat diminished team. He's great fun to watch and his performance is consistent with most of his Carry Ons, but the exposure means that the scene-stealing qualities which set him apart from the team are less apparent (even though he does steal many of the scenes). Of the main team, the most centred here is Bernard Cribbins, which is a little odd. Cribbins is a nice addition to the team. If anything, he embodies some of the innocence that is vanishing from the series quickly at this point. His overprotective bit towards the woman he's fallen for is a repeat of his arc in Jack and feels a little stale by film's end, but that has more to do with the writing than Cribbins himself.

    The supporting roles are some of Carry On's finest. Eric Barker makes his mark on his third film in the series playing his usual authoritative figure. He and Richard Wattis are a nice double act, their unshakeable phlegmatic deadpan giving some of the film's subtlest comedy which would be a perfect fit in any of the earliest films (their stony faced response to the bizarre situations reminded me very much of the Commissioner Gordon/Chief O'Hara scenes in the Batman series, still two years away at this point). Sadly, Barker would vanish from the series until Emmannuelle, while this is Wattis's only appearance in the entire series.

    Dilys Laye vamps it up nicely as a femme fatale. Her role here is much smaller than that in Cruising, but equally effective. She is most definitely one of the series' hidden assets. Victor Maddern is another, here in perhaps his most significant Carry On film role as Milchmann. He never looked more dashing - at least not in this series. Renee Houston has a cough and a spit in her second appearance. Judith Furse, in her third and final series role, has the dubious honour of playing the villain of the piece Dr. Crow, a character designed to get cheap laughs out of gender fluidity.

    Jim Dale gets to don various disguises - including drag - for his relatively small role (though his biggest to date). He's very good in each and it's easy to see why he was the natural choice to step in as romantic lead when Cribbins fell out of favour with Rogers and Thomas.

    In introductory scenes it seems the Bond gags are going to be thick and fast, but they quickly ebb out in favour of standard Rothwell one-liners, which is probably all for the better.

    I forget the reason for shooting this film in black and white, though I suspect it came down to budget. Some moments do have a noir-ish feel to them, but I can't help feeling as a Bond satire it would have worked far better in glorious colour.

    Speaking of glorious colour, Cleo is quite startling in its glory. It really does feel like the Carry Ons' masterpiece and must have vindicated the decision to go period with the films. Of course, they were making use of existing sets and costumes, but everything about it feels instantly "right". What's more, it's funny. There are more memorable lines in this film than in all the previous Rothwell films combined (everyone knows the "infamy" line, of course, but that's one of many that had me chuckling last night).

    And the cast feels like it's almost back up to full strength. This is perhaps the fullest cast so far, with Hattie Jacques the only notable absentee.

    It's interesting to note how the cast dynamics have changed since those early Hudis films. Joan Sims - having missed the previous four - is back. And instead of romantic lead she gives us the first of her memorable harridans, paired up with Kenneth Williams in the first of many "odd couple" pairings that define the series (I won't include Williams's romance with Jill Ireland in Nurse, odd as it was to those in the know, as that was played for truth). The former object of her affections, Kenneth Connor, also takes on a more character role for his return to the series (which would also serve as his exit from the series - at least until Up The Jungle, some seven years later).

    With the big subject matter, Williams has plenty of opportunity to go overboard. While he takes plenty of those, his performance is surprisingly restrained at times - certainly compared with Spying. There's a sense that the inherent drama of the piece greatly appeals to him as a stage actor. This of course makes his more overboard moments funnier. He even manages to squeeze Churchill and Harold Macmillan in there... along with Marcus et Spencius, reminding us that the Carry Ons are above all bastions of Britishness.
     
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  14. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    Another memorable line from Carry On Cleo is when Charles Hawtrey, towards the end of the film, is spying on events while hiding in the giant urn, then smashes over a window sill, to which he responds "Just Call Me Urn".

    Swami
     
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  15. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    With the rich technicolour costume pieces that the Carry Ons have become in the last leg of the Anglo-Amalgamated films, The Big Job - which I watched last night - is an intimate black-and-white treat.

    Made between Cleo and Screaming from the familiar team of Rogers-Thomas-Rothwell, familiar faces from their other films of this era include Sid James, Joan Sims, Lance Percival, Jim Dale, Michael Ward and Brian Rawlinson. Wanda Ventham follows up her wordless Cleo appearance with a small but memorable role here, while Frank Thornton - playing his usual officious suited type in the form of a bank manager - would go on to appear in the team's next production, Screaming.

    Two lead roles that set this film apart are Sylvia Syms and Dick Emery. Both make a nice addition. I'd forgotten Emery was in this one and missed his name when watching the credits. Not being familiar with his roles past the camp catchphrase "Ooh you are awful... but I like you", he was a very pleasant surprise here, playing his role for truth and giving a nice, sweet role. Syms plays the kind of character - somewhat innocent but with a touch of guile when cornered - that would perhaps have been played by Liz Fraser had it been made two or three years earlier.

    Put Hattie Jacques in Sylvia's part (something that is easy to imagine) and the film becomes Carry On Cabby. Certainly, the romantic imbroglios (particularly Syms's desire for Sid to settle down) and an element of the battle of the sexes give this a similar "kitchen sink" feel. And that's no bad thing, since Cabby is one of my favourites in the series. I actually watched The Big Job back-to-back with the audio commentary for Cabby, and they really do feel like a pair well matched.

    There are hints of future Carry Ons too. Sid playing a loveable rogue with a penchant for disguises (a part he'd played plenty of times even by this point) foreshadows films like Matron and Dick. Even Eric Rogers' score for the criminal activity here is similar to the music he'd use in Matron at times. It's very easy to imagine the foursome here made up of Sid, Bernard Bresslaw, Peter Butterworth and Barbara Windsor or some similar combination.

    Jim Dale is a bit of an irritant here as dopey Constable Harold. It feels like he's trying too hard to prove himself a comedy actor and his face gets stretched every which way as he delivers his lines out of one side of his mouth then the other which is just overkill.

    Joan Sims's "tart with a heart" characterisation seems very familiar in retrospect, having been used numerous times in later Carry Ons, but this would have been an early outing and I found myself thinking how novel it would have been for 1965 audiences. Edina Ronay provides the film's sex appeal by oozing out of some very tight outfits (and doing very little else).

    Towards the end of the film there's a Widows vibe as the women become more proactive and make their own move. Tantalisingly, the film ends with a hint of a sequel. I would definitely have returned for Another Big Job, had they gone that route. But I'm kind of glad they didn't as this is perfect as a one-off.
     
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  16. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    I'm surprised some more of that kind of material wasn't included as extras on the Carry On box set.

    Swami
     
  17. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I would very much like to see the non-canon films from the same team given their own compilation set at the very least. Back in the days of VHS, a number of them were released as double features like this with Carry On branding, but I don't recall seeing them released all together.

    Curiously, the disc for the Nurse On Wheels DVD is emblazoned with "The Carry On Collection", matching the individual re-releases of the twelve Anglo-Amalgamated Carry Ons (all were re-released in 2007). This suggests that at some point there was a plan to release the "almost" Carry Ons as a set (or at least a series). Though the Nurse On Wheels DVD is a bit of a curio anyway. The cast and crew list on the back is actually from Cabby and bears no relation to the people who actually appeared in this film.
     
  18. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    ...which was great fun, by the way. Even though the only Carry On-er present is Liz Fraser, she had a lot of tales to tell and was a fun commentator. There's clearly a lot more to her repertoire than what I've seen, and I suspect much of it was stage work.

    Her lack of political correctness and pretence was very refreshing. At one point she flatly bemoaned women drivers in such a factual way that I found myself chortling. I enjoyed her continued gentle ribbing of historian/über-fan Robert Ross too.
     
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  19. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Superhero

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    Maybe the powers-that-be could incorporate them all into an increased box set ahead of the Carry On's 60th anniversary next year?

    Swami
     
  20. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, that might be a selling point.

    Truthfully, though, I'm very happy with the Carry On DVDs that were released in the mid-noughties. The initial DVDs were quite poor, but the Special Editions with audio commentaries, trailers and in-depth booklets feel quite definitive to me.

    One thing I would snap up is a Blu-ray restoration of the films with all DVD bonus features carried over. So far only four Carry Ons have been restored for BD - the period films from the Anglo-Amalgamated era. They're still very expensive, so I haven't invested yet, but reviews indicate they look better than ever. A complete Blu-ray set would be very welcome indeed, though sadly I doubt it would happen in time for the Diamond Anniversary.
     
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