This is Bertolt’s fault:) Well, not really, but he mentioned them the other week and then I noticed that ITV were running documentary series about the making of the Carry On movies. So I had to watch. It’s called Carry On Forever and celebrates a series of cheeky seaside postcard style comedies that became a British institution. There are 31 of the things. They occupy a similar ground to Benny Hill and likewise flogged the proverbial dead horse to oblivion.
The movies are loved and loathed in equal measure and made household names of an ensemble cast. The early films set their misfits in establishment environments and pricked British pomposity with prat-falls, double entendre, sight gags and anything that would get a laugh. The latest episode of the documentary revealed that their 1969 offering, the seventeenth film in the series, was in fact the biggest grossing release. It was the most popular film in the UK Box Office that year. The Sunday Times have counted it in the World’s Top Twenty Films.
Not sure why? It isn’t the best Carry On by a long shot even if they hadn’t jumped off the cliff. Yet. It doesn’t have the wit of some of the earlier films or an iconic gag. Maybe one? There is kind of a pivatol moment as Barbara Windsor loses her bikini top during a work out, flashing the prospect of a glimpse of flesh and moving the Carry Ons away from just innuendo to perhaps a little coarser smut. In some ways it seems so innocent now.
There isn’t much of a story as such. But it provides a muddy environment (mostly in Pinewood Studios) for various oddballs to congregate and run through slapstick routines, slips of the tongue and strange shenanigans that come out alright in the end.
Lecherous Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw take their girlfriends Joan Sim and Dilys Laye camping thinking it will be a nudist camp. This will supposedly cause the girls to relax their inhibitions. It isn’t and they don’t. Peter Butterworth is a swindling farmer, renting out his muddy paddock but providing little in the way of facilities. Hattie Jacques is a Matron once more pursuing her colleague Kenneth Williams with romantic intent. Terry Scott cultivates a feud with Charles Hawtrey.
The whole film can be found online.