Happy 59th Anniversary to the Carry Ons

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

  1. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Mega Star

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    In terms of any other bonus features, it has to be taken into account that there are increasingly few surviving cast members left or available to do commentaries, take part in retrospectives etc. I don't know whether or not there is scope to lobby for some of the suggestions that you make, or indeed who you would lobby.

    Swami
     
  2. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes. Absolutely. Even many people who have taken part in the audio commentaries of the Noughties (Peter Rogers, Dilys Laye, Dora Bryan, Terence Longdon, Lance Percival) have now died. That's why I feel what's already available is as definitive as it gets for DVD.


    Well, StudioCanal have released the four Carry On Blu-rays so far, so I imagine they'd be a good starting point if one was so inclined. The fact that they've already released four Carry Ons restored to HD standard suggests they consider it the next logical move for the series. But the most recent release was over three years ago, so I can't help wondering if there just isn't a demand for it. Film restoration doesn't come cheap.
     
  3. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Mega Star

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    We can only hope they decide to do something!

    Swami
     
  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Last night I watched Cowboy and enjoyed it more than ever. Cleo and Screaming have long been favourites of mine but this time round I feel I've appreciated the greatness of Jack and Cowboy more than ever (I rewatched the Bernard Cribbins audio commentary for Jack yesterday, which has deepened my enjoyment still further).

    It's very difficult to rank them (if you'll pardon the pun) because a Carry On from the mid-Sixties is an entirely different animal to an early-Sixties film. But this possibly has the best production values yet. The titles, with the credits in red font over a panoramic view, look very authentic. The sets and costumes too are impressive.

    The juxtaposition of the terribly British Carry On films and actors taking on Americana is a little odd on paper but somehow it all fits. It helps that the actors are so recognisably playing familiar characters, albeit with a slightly different accent.

    Casting feels very fresh. Watching last night it felt like this was the film which ushered a new era in. Gone (for now) is Kenneth Connor. It's also Brian Rawlinson's last Carry On film. But it's also the first film for a number of faces who would go on to recur in the series: Angela Douglas, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw and Margaret Nolan.

    Douglas in particular hits the ground running and feels like a natural successor to English roses Shirley Eaton and Juliet Mills. Balancing out the charm, I was struck by how much attitude she has in this. Much like Mills in Jack, Angela plays one of the most capable characters in the film. She's is also effortlessly sexy here, but never feels aggressively or exploitatively so. The more slattern sexuality in the film comes in the forms of Margaret Nolan and Edina Ronay (this was her only series proper appearance, but Ronay was fresh from sub-Carry On The Big Job). The farcical scene where Douglas, Joan Sims and Edina Ronay get into a hair pulling catfight over Dale made me laugh more than I perhaps should have.

    Joan Sims is also very sexy here. If I remember correctly this is one of her personal favourites and it's easy to see why. She's never looked more voluptuously glamorous.

    Jim Dale has settled in as romantic lead. All the Dale trademarks are here - the twitchiness, the naïveté and the physical comedy. But he seems a little more reigned in than in previous films. It's my favourite of his performances in the series so far.

    Following on from scenes in Jack and Cleo, Hawtrey's penchant for imbibing is once again written into his character. This time with far less subtlety. Perhaps art imitating life is the reason he does it so well. Even by his usual standards, he steals scenes without even trying. His gleeful, throaty, manic laugh as he's carried off the set by a heavy set man still resonates and perhaps also shows that Rothwell knew him just a little too well. Of course, he plays Native American Big Heap with no variation at all to his usual performance, which makes the role far funnier than it could possibly have been in anyone else's hands.

    Each time I watch the series I grow to appreciate the second tier team a little more. Peter Gilmore is very reliable and with great presence on screen (it doesn't hurt that he's easy on the eye). Michael Nightingale is another familar face. Jon Pertwee makes his second of three appearances. Once again it's brief but memorable. He's one of the actors I wish had done more with the team.
     
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  5. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This is interesting...

    Unseen photos of the stars on set.

    Not all the photos are as unseen as it suggests, but there were a number that were new to me. I also gleaned some new information from the captions. For instance I had no idea that Amanda Barrie was married to Hilary Bonner.
     
  6. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Carry on Cowboy is indeed a superb entry, Sid James is magnificent as The Rumpo Kid and as you say Joan Sims excels.

    Swami
     
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  7. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Just added The Complete Collection to my basket. :)
     
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  8. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Nice work, @Alexis. You're in for a treat.

    How familiar are you with the Carry Ons?
     
  9. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Oh I have watched most of them over the years. I found them all very funny and there is a strange comforting feeling when watching them because of the cast. Like family, you know what you are getting and I like that. It will be nice to own them all though, and I do love me a complete collection - of anything. :)
     
  10. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes - absolutely. There's something very comforting about knowing how someone is going to play it and even what line is coming next they're still hilarious.

    Most of the lines were old to start with, of course, so there's nothing lost by rewatching. And it leaves plenty of room to enjoy the performances.


    Enjoy. They're quite loaded with bonus material so I'm sure there'll be some treats in there for you among all the familiarity. ;)
     
  11. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    In recent evenings I've caught up with the final Anglo-Amalagamated Carry On and the first two Rank films which were retroactively given the Carry On titles for a re-release after Rank initially balked at using the title.

    Screaming! is a favourite of mine. It looks wonderfully rich and dark and has some really nice moments. It's struck me that many of the main cast in this one - Fenella Fielding, Peter Butterworth, Angela Douglas, Bernard Bresslaw - are only making their second Carry On appearance, and it's a credit to the casting that the team gels so well. It always feels like Fenella appeared in more than she did, such a splash did she make. Butterworth's drag scenes are some of my favourite contributions of his to the series and after his low key role in Cowboy, I think Screaming! is where he really made his mark on the Carry Ons.

    Fielding aside, it occurs to me that the women in the team get a bit of a raw deal here. Angela Douglas's character is kidnapped at the beginning, spends most of the film absent and returns towards the end. Thankless as it may be compared with Cowboy, there are still some nice little moments that make me glad she was along for the ride. I always enjoy her awkward look away as she confesses to never having thought of Jim Dale as flesh and blood. If memory serves, Joan Sims's character is the most unpleasant she played during the entire series, screeching and nagging her way through every scene she's in. It's the one film where I feel relived she never had more screen time. Trouper that she is, Joan adds some nice touches in terms of her facial expressions and delivery. And it certainly can't be said that she's not getting some varied roles at this point.

    Compared with the previous films, I found the pacing in Screaming! a little slow at times. It's deliberate, I imagine. Done to match the atmosphere building scenes of the Hammer Horrors. But I still wouldn't miss some of the skulking around outdoors scenes if they were cut down a bit.

    Screaming!'s dialogue has a lot of perfect back and forth between characters delivering some very cheesy lines with such energy they feel new each time. It happens each time the "human" characters interact with the more gothic elements. The initial confusion between Kenneth Williams's twitching Dr Watt over his name and the name builds nicely. And then there's a nice quickfire example when Bung shows Valeria an ear he's found. "This ear?" she asks. "Yes - that there" is the response. It's so corny but I'm smiling just thinking about it.

    Don't Lose Your Head is a one-time favourite of mine. This rewatch was a great reminder of just why that was. There's so much to love: Joan Sims is back to her squeaky, tarty, slightly common greatness as Desiree. Williams is delightfully arch as the villain of the piece. Sid James has a great dual role as Sir Rodney Ffing and The Black Fingernail and no end of other disguises - including a rare James drag sequence. Hawtrey has his most flamboyant part so far, waving his handkerchief and "mwaah haa haaa"ing for all he's worth.

    More so-bad-it's-good dialogue too, delivered most memorably. Elspeth March telling Sid James he's always had magnificent balls is so funny I now start chortling at just the sight of her. Joan Sims delivers the line "My brother... the Count" with such pitch perfect emphasis even Hawtrey appears to corpse in the shot of him from behind. It's one of my favourite moments in the film, and as an added bonus I'd somehow forgotten it was coming up so got the full impact. Another favourite moment - and one that typifies the Hawtrey eccentricity - has him asking Kenneth Williams if he's looking for The Black Fingernail. When Williams responds in the affirmative, Hawtrey whips out a little hammer from his pocket and bashes Williams's resting hand with a smile. It would be just terrible if it wasn't also terribly funny.

    The film looks very opulent - particularly the ballroom scenes where the setting and costumes add a touch of class.

    Sadly, this rewatch also served to remind me what's not great about Don't Lose Your Head. The straight to camera stuff gets old rather quickly. Dany Robin is lovely, but her casting is a little odd. I've always thought the "He loveth me" Beatles reference a bit cringeworthy - and not in the good way. And most damning of all there's that tedious final swashbuckling sequence which goes on for about ten minutes with barely any dialogue and nothing to keep the viewer's thoughts from drifting elsewhere. There's too much goodness in the film for this not to be a classic. But it's not THE classic.

    After all these years, I've only just realised how similar Follow That Camel's theme is to Up The Khyber. Both evoke that stiff upper lip British patriotism - a theme running through both films. Indeed, Camel - a great film in its own right - shares many elements with Khyber. Bernard Bresslaw is at his most intense and brings something very special here. Sims smoulders nicely, as does Anita Harris. Butterworth and Dale's Britishness is put to the test.

    Williams has lost all subtlety by this point and is just one big caricature. All facial contortions and manic energy. But it's good caricature. Or at least it's very funny. As in Cowboy, he plays a role here - a harsh German officer - and there are very few hints of his trademark vocal inflections and elongated vowels. Hawtrey, of course, turns in his usual performance with no hint of a French accent. His character named Le Pice of course pays off when Williams tells Phil Silvers that Hawtrey will not be going with him ("You will not be taking Le Pice").

    Speaking of Silvers, he's the oddest piece of casting yet. But as a one-off I quite enjoy him, and in the context of the Foreign Legion his presence makes some kind of sense here. Williams was very vocal about Silvers' inability to memorise dialogue and reliance on cue cards. I can only imagine the clash of cultures (and egos) behind the scenes. I do wonder, too, what Sid James would have done with this role.

    Butterworth reprises his "what a wonderful idea" bit when drag is suggested, once again not realising that he himself will end up doing it.

    There's lots that's in questionable taste here. As well as the racial stereotyping, there's Angela Douglas's character getting taken advantage of by every man she meets - eventually winding up roofied and in a harem. And she enjoys it all. Perhaps I'm too used to the series, but it's difficult to get offended by any of it. At risk of objectifying Douglas myself she really does look very pretty indeed throughout.

    As with Screaming! and Don't Lose Your Head, a couple of the sequences felt a little too prolonged. With Camel it was the walking through the desert scenes and the comedy chart that showed their progress. They felt like filler, and I can't think of too many examples of this in the earlier films.

    Even so, Camel is a far better film than I'd remembered.
     
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  12. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Mega Star

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    All the films you mention there are quality pieces, although Camel isn't necessarily amongst my absolute favourites, but I would be splitting hairs if I was too critical. I remain just a little unsure about Phil Silvers' performance, but other than that it is a great film.

    Swami
     
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  13. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Doctor - last night's rewatch - was something of a surprise to me. It's among my most frequently watched Carry Ons, having been a favourite when I was a child, and I've enjoyed watching it more recently. It has been a while though, and with the earlier Carry Ons having grown on me so much I thought Doctor may seem a little flat in comparison.

    It's turned out to be among the most enjoyable yet. Such a punchy little film. Not a moment is wasted, which is particularly appreciated after moments of filler in the previous couple of films. The one-liners are fun. There's even a tangible plot.

    I hadn't thought about it on previous watches, but this is only Talbot Rothwell's third contemporary Carry On, following on from Cabby and Spying. Which makes it appropriate that this marks Hattie Jacques and Barbara Windsor's return to the series. Hattie had been out of seven consecutive films by this point and it's a delight to see her back and right at the centre of things. Nurse May is quite possibly my favourite Carry On of Barbara's, with the balance of sauce and innocence hitting the right notes.

    The casting of Doctor is impressive all round. This feels like one of the largest ensembles of primary Carry On actors yet. It's possibly worth noting that this is the only Carry On film to feature all eight of the actors whose head-shots get included on the banner with the logo these days...

    [​IMG]

    (Not that I think ALL of these actors necessarily represent the Carry On crème de la crème. Indeed, it's very restricting to take such a huge rotating ensemble and push a handful front and centre).

    Other featured regulars in addition to these eight include Peter Butterworth, Dilys Laye, Peter Gilmore and Julian Holloway. Anita Harris is back from Camel. There are a whole host of cameos and walk-on roles playing various hospital visitors and staff. AND there's a guest starring lead role in Frankie Howerd.

    With such a huge cast, it's natural that some leads' roles are smaller than could be expected. It's natural that Sid James would be a little less visible than usual. Not much, mind you. Or at least it doesn't feel like it given how well he's used. Last night I noticed how little Charles Hawtrey had to do in this one. And Peter Butterworth barely said a word for the first hour or so. Nevertheless, James and Hawtrey were given second and third billing here (Hawtrey wouldn't appear, I believe, if he had anything below third billing). In addition to Howerd, it's Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Jim Dale who, to me, seem to do the lion's share of the work. Out of interest, Williams and Dale get fourth and fifth billing respectively, while original cast member Jacques is relegated to a shocking ninth billing.

    If Doctor's cast is iconic, its locations are no less so. On a few occasions I've visited many of the filming locations the series used around Windsor and Maidenhead, and the one that felt most like stepping into a Carry On film for real was that visit to Maidenhead Town Hall. I think I'm due another visit soon. ;)

    It seems to be widely felt that the period Carry Ons look better than the contemporary ones. Watching last night, though, I was struck by how rich Doctor looks. Alan Hume's touch is everywhere. Just look at those long, moody shadows in the night-time scenes where the patients' rebellious march up the stairs cross cuts with Matron throwing herself at Dr. Tinkle. It looks like a 1940s Fleischer cartoon brought to life. In the years since I last watched the series, I've acquired a TV with a bigger screen than I've ever had before. Being far too young to have seen any of the series in the cinema I'm finally seeing them more clearly than I ever have. And they hold up well. Another argument for getting this series released on Blu-ray sooner rather than later.
     
  14. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This is fun.

     
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  15. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Mega Star

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    It speaks volumes for Sid James' excellent role as a team player that he readily accepted a relatively reduced role in Carry On Doctor (although he was still recovering from his first heart attack at the time). As you say, you scarcely notice the fact that it is a smaller role for Sid than normal.

    Swami
     
  16. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    My worlds are crossing over. On Friday night I watched Cleo with Amanda Barrie's audio commentary. Yesterday I watched Up The Khyber and Camping. Last night Amanda Barrie and Julian Holloway played a married couple pretending to be unmarried in an episode of Pardon The Expression.

    Khyber and Camping are about as well-known as any of the films, I should think. They aired regularly on TV when I was young and I certainly know them backwards as a result. Though I'm not sure how well either film would go down today, what with Khyber's decapitations and Camping's mammaries.

    A number of contributors to the audio commentaries for the Anglo-Amalgamated films have commented that they prefer the innocence and storytelling of the earlier episodes. I also watched Angela Douglas's Cowboy commentary yesterday and she commented that she'd probably have refused to do a later film in the series.

    Camping is the first post-Angela film, and the opening Paradise Camp cinema sequence - with multiple tit shots - really does feel like the series' loss of innocence. The sauce has been steadily getting thicker and thicker, but it really struck me yesterday how suddenly the tone changed again in Camping. More specifically, the characters' motives and attitudes were quite different. Early Carry Ons had the crumpet mad Leslie Phillips characters, but it was balanced with Kenny Connor falling for Joan Sims. Later on we had Cribbins and Mills or Dale and Douglas who fell in love over the course of the film. Even Up The Khyber ended with Roy Castle's character betrothed to Angela Douglas.

    With Camping, the vast majority of the characters just want to get laid. Miss Haggard throws herself at Doctor Soaper. Soaper pervily spies on the schoolgirls in his charge through a hole in the shower wall and letches after Babs as she walks. Schoolgirl Babs makes out with boys to the sound of a rasping brass score and flirts with wizened fiftysomething Sid. Sid and Bernie don't care if they get their legs over with their girlfriends or Babs and Fanny, just so long as they do. Married Peter Potter's fantasies about being seduced by one of the schoolgirls is made reality. Julian Holloway is more than up for it and isn't shy about letting the girls know. About the only characters who don't get it are Muggins and Fiddler (though even Hawtrey's Muggins started the film in a compromising position with Valerie Leon and seems quite keen on Peter's wife).

    The closest we get to innocence are Bernie and Anthea, but Bern plans a liaison with Fanny while shy Anthea - left alone with Joan - confesses her own horniness. Love and marriage are old hat here.

    The sexism that the series is criticised for is more evident in Camping than in any other Carry On to date. The most powerful aphrodisiac is now cheating - so long as it's the men who do it. Still dripping from his encounter with a teenage girl, Peter orders his frigid wife Harriet inside the tent in order to give her one. She becomes his obedient servant, accepting all his suggestions from that point on with great servility. Joan and Anthea blow the lid off Sid and Bernie's attempts to bed the two schoolgirls and instantly become very willing to go all the way so the boys will like them more. And the boys decide they'll do. Confident women are only welcome here if they're comely and make themselves available to the men. It's a far cry from films like Teacher, Constable, Cabby or Cowboy where the women are capable and take charge of their own destinies.

    The plot is wafer thin, but it doesn't actually feel it thanks to the quick pace and the buzz created by the chemistry of the cast. Betty Marsden, in her most significant Carry On role, is a nice addition to the team. Believe it or not, I hadn't twigged until someone pointed it out last night that her character is named Harry Potter! It's a shame she couldn't have done more, but in this world the women's roles are - to put it kindly - more defined than the mens and perhaps that would have been one more than Rothwell would know what to do with. Bernard Bresslaw's character acting shines through. I can't think of two more contrasting back-to-back roles than Bungdit Din and Bernie Lugg.
     
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  17. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Yes, indeed Bernard Bresslaw had tremendous versatility, he was able to step from doing the Carry Ons to serious theatre performances absolutely seamlessly. Peter Butterworth in Carry on Camping as Fiddler is truly inspired, played to perfection.

    Swami
     
  18. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Again Doctor has reminded me how, even as they were made, nostalgia proved to be a very good thing for the Carry Ons.

    Presumably because of their origins with Nurse, the latter medical Carry Ons have a gentleness and heart to them that is missing from some of the surrounding films. Moments like Kilmore's sad farewell to the patients in Doctor feel quite Hudis-esqe. In amongst the physical comedy, slide whistles and one liners, Again Doctor finds time for a moments like this. It's a little surprising - though perhaps less so with hindsight - that they're carried beautifully by that epitome of sauce and fluff, Barbara Windsor as Goldie Locks. She's there at the height of Jim Dale's drunken mania, set off by larger than life reaction shots of all the cast, adding a sense of grounding as the one person trying to restore order. She's the voice of reason to Jimmy's less than sensible idea of setting her up in a hospital room. And after choosing a different path, there's a powerfully effective moment where, left alone in her room after some harsh words from Jimmy, Goldie lies in silent reflection, sadness written all over her face. She looks for all the world as though she's considering the shallowness of her new life, wondering if her newfound success is worth the pain it's cost and deciding it isn't. Not a word is spoken, but it's a moment that resonates as deeply as anything else in the series. It's probably remembered as the film where Babs where's the four strategically placed love hearts (and she later ends up fully nude, shown from behind on a weighing scale), but for all that Windsor does some genuine straight acting here.

    Hattie Jacques's Matron role is smaller here than in Doctor. She's quite different too. Softer. More likeable. More human. Even Charles Hawtrey seems unusually restrained for most of the film, which makes his bursting forth in drag towards the end even funnier.

    The film is a Jim Dale tour de force, with a series of his own memorable stunts that showcase his talent for physical comedy and leave his mark on the series.

    In some previous watches, the Beatific Island sequence - with only two regulars - has been a bit of a chore for me. This time round I enjoyed the change of pace which felt like a way for the audience to catch its breath from the fast moving medical madness.

    At one point, Goldie comments about the bone replacing the boob as the fashionable look. I've always found that line very interesting. It's the nearest thing to an acknowledgement that the series - which has come to rely on tits more and more - is behind the times even at this point. But at the same time there's a sense that nobody is too worried about that.





    Next up was Carry On Christmas, which aired on TV between Again Doctor and Up The Jungle. There's something that I find very flat and lifeless about the TV shows compared to the films. The budget will be smaller, of course, but I also wonder if it's also down to Gerald Thomas's absence. Terry Scott and Sid James come out of it looking really good (with Scott in particular getting stuck into a number of great character roles from little girls to old men). Charles Hawtrey not so much. Frankie Howerd is good fun, but there's a lot more of his standard act in this than in his Carry On films, and it feels like a bit of a clash to me. It's worth noting that this marks Bernard Bresslaw's first dragging up in the series - something that would make it into the films in a big way before too long.

    The panto sequence seems to hold up the best. I suppose it's a pretty timeless tradition. Scott and Peter Butterworth chew up the furniture magnificently as Ugly Sisters.

    As I recall, this is the best of the Christmas specials. It's certainly the starriest.
     
  19. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    With my latest double-bill, an unwritten rule of the Carry Ons - that the period films look much better than the contemporary ones - has been turned on its head.

    Up The Jungle
    feels very much like an extended TV episode. It has budget written all over it and threatens to feel quite claustrophobic without actually suffocating one. There's no real location work to speak of, apart from a couple of establishing shots (sans cast), some grainy stock footage and a final shot of a Windsor street. Those aside, this is a film that showcases the great indoors.

    That said, a couple of the Pinewood sets are quite impressive - particularly the fountain/waterhole set. And it occurred to me that the production values could be argued to accurately reflect the Tarzan serials the film is spoofing (even if true, I suspect it's far from deliberate, but it helped my enjoyment).

    The cast are enjoyable, with Kenneth Williams and Hattie's absences offset by the return of Frankie Howerd and - after a gap of six years and eight films - Kenneth Connor. Howerd "ooh"s, "aaah"s and "well now"s as though his life depended on it, all to the good of the film. One time juvenile lead Connor mugs and gurns his way into older character territory that would be his speciality from here on. Jacki Piper starts the Ugly Duckling transformation trend in the series that would be picked up by in Loving and Girls by Imogen Hassall and Valerie Leon respectively. Leon, by the way, looks bloody amazing in Up The Jungle, wearing a strategically slashed potato sack that shows her curves in all their glory. She may be playing the object of male fantasy, but there's a sense that she's holding all the aces here.

    The plot has gone the same way as location work. It's just not there. It feels rather like a series of sketches with terrible punchlines, albeit very funny ones thanks to the enthusiasm and chemistry of the cast. The spirit of the whole film is perhaps embodied by the dinner scene in which Joan Sims is violated by a snake and enjoys it. It's crude, vulgar, as subtle as Beethoven's 5th and - thanks to the artists performing it - far funny than it has a right to be.


    Loving doesn't go too far from home. All of its filming locations are in the centre of Windsor and consequently on a couple of stops there I've visited pretty much all the locations within an hour on foot (they'll be familiar, too, from other films. Perhaps most notably the Wedded Bliss office which is in the same place as Regardless's Helping Hands HQ and Nookey's private clinic in Again Doctor). But it uses the locations well. The characters are seen outdoors regularly and so the audience has more room to breathe. It makes such a difference to the entire tone of the film. Loving is a cheap, efficiently made British film, but back-to-back with the studio-bound antics Up The Jungle it feels vibrant, colourful and spacious.

    I hadn't really thought of it this way before, but more than any of the other previous films, the structure of Loving most closely resembles that of Camping. Both are blatantly about people trying to get their ends away and both are a series of loosely connected - almost disparate - stories. For all the bluster about Loving being the raciest entry to date to take it into the new decade, I actually find it less in your face than some previous entries. There's plenty of skimpy underwear, cleavage and innuendo, but less nudity than Camping or Again Doctor (I suspect Barbara Windsor's absence is partly responsible). As with Camping, the strands all finally coming together in the last act serve to remind the audience how little interaction some of the actors have had throughout but somehow it doesn't matter. The film ends with a literal bun fight as the cast fling strategically placed cream pies at each other. Sometimes they fling each other into the pies for a bit of variety. The pan out at the end to show the entire main cast amid the scene of complete disorder always makes me think of Dynasty's Moldavia Massacre.

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    After a small part in Again Doctor, Patsy Rowlands does her own Ugly Duckling transformation here to throw herself at employer Kenneth Williams. Indeed, women are coming at him from every direction and a scene in which he fends off Hattie, Patsy and Joan Sims is like a burlesque reenactment of the scene in Cowboy with Jim Dale's character in a similar position. The sight of a horrified Hattie Jacques walking in to find Joan Sims lying on the floor and peering out from between Kenneth Williams's ankles having torn his trousers off is a reminder that the series has incrementally put subtlety and any kind of reality aside to get the biggest short-term laugh. It is funny, certainly. But it's in a completely different dimension to Kenneth's romance of Jill Ireland back in Nurse.

    Jacki Piper and Richard O'Callaghan are a sweet couple and this film showcases them best. O'Callaghan wisely chooses not to play his facial expressions to those in the cheap seats à la Jim Dale. He plays it almost entirely straight. Indeed, whenever I watch this film still I find myself wondering if O'Callaghan is even acting at all: so naturally naïve does he seem as he wanders around dazedly watching the saucy antics around him as though wandered onto the set accidentally and is desperately trying to find his way off. His polite British reserve gives a great contrast to the cartoony stuff and watching this time I found myself wishing he'd done more. Piper is charming. Rare is the actress who can sprawl on a rug wearing just half a bra and the briefest of briefs and still come across as wholesome and likeable. She is, of course, the spiritual successor to Angela Douglas and a very welcome addition.

    I'm currently watching Pardon The Expression in which Julian Holloway has a recurring role as a likeable cleaner. The contrast between that role and his seedy, Bristol-obsessed photographer in Loving tells me he's an actor I've greatly underestimated over the years.


    Last night I also viewed Carry On Again Christmas. TV Carry Ons can be quite painful at times. Having decided to watch the Carry On Laughing series for the second time when I get to 1975, I'm having second thoughts.
     
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  20. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Watching Henry last night it struck me how appealing this must've been from a dramatic perspective for some of the actors. There's no shortage of mugging and slide whistles, but in among the now expected Carry On gags are some moments that are played for real. From Kenneth Williams's Cromwell warning Sid's Henry that "wars have been fought over less" to Kenneth Connor's Hampton's treasonous plotting to Henry throwing over the banquet tables in a rage... there are some very truthful moments.

    This is perhaps Connor's most restrained and subtle performance in the entire series, and it's consequently one of his best. Patsy Rowlands has only a cameo at the film's start which she also chooses to play entirely straight. There's torture, images of hanged bodies still swinging from scaffolds and the decapitation of a number of characters and the film being based (albeit rather loosely) on real historical characters. It's a very different sort of reality to the gritty warmth of the early Hudis films but the balance here is enjoyable, with the dramatic undercurrent making the camp antics seem somehow more nuanced and clever.

    Terry Scott is less restrained but brings colour to the proceedings as Cardinal Wolsey - all righteous indignation, heavenward gazes and crossing himself. That tottering waddle as he presses his prayer hands together is a marvellous sight. And there's that wonderful double act between Scott and Williams which makes me wish they'd been paired up more often. It all comes together to make this my series favourite Scott performance.


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    Henry is actually far better than I'd remembered.
     
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