Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head

Year: 1967

Director: Gerald Thomas

Stars: Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey, Dany Robin

Carry On’s take on the Scarlet Pimpernel brings us to Revolutionary France and the rule of Citizen Robespierre and his not-so-secret police, including the Big Cheese himself, Citizen Camembert and his sidekick, Citizen Bidet. When a dashing hero starts rescuing aristocrats from the very guillotine itself, Camembert spares little effort in trying to capture the self-styled “Black Fingernail”.

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But when the Fingernail, known to us as English aristocrat Sir Rodney Ffing, together with his friend and helper Lord Darcy Pue, rescue the foppish royalist, the Duc de Pomfritte, from his fateful meeting with Madame La Guillotine, even tricking Camembert into beheading his own executioner into the bargain, Camembert and Bidet (together with Camembert’s sister, the would-be countess Desiree) are sent to England to unmask and capture the Fingernail. Their only leverage is that they have taken prisoner Jacqueline, a beautiful lady that Sir Rodney met and fell for whilst evading the french troops in Calais.

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This, the 13th Carry On in the series, is a wonderful farce from start to finish. There are so many terrible accents, so many cringe-worthy gags, and so many completely unbelievable scenes (I especially love the duel scene in the Garden of Fragrance!). Sid James is on top form as Sir Rodney, in one of his best performances. The interplay between Kenneth Williams and Peter Butterworth as Camembert and Bidet is joyful, and the supporting cast, including Peter Gilmore, Jacqueline Pearce, Julian Orchard, Marianne Stone, Hugh Futcher and Michael Ward, are brilliant and flesh out the film into an utterly believable, utterly wonderful entry in Britain’s best known and best loved comedy franchise.

Zeta One

Year: 1969

Director: Michael Cort

Stars: James Robertson Justice, Dawn Addams, Charles Hawtrey, Anna Gael, Yutte Stensgaard, Valerie Leon, Carol Hawkins, Robin Hawdon, Wendy Lingham

Imagine a world entirely populated by women. Where no men exist, no males are born, and which faces an inevitable problem with the future of the species. That world is Angvia.

The Angvian women are intelligent, feisty, attractive and sexually aware, but despite this the survival plan that they choose to put into action is one which they really haven’t thought through. Launching ‘kidnap’ attacks on an unsuspecting Earth, they take…. not men, but more women. As replacements, no doubt.

The mysterious disappearances of so many young women soon attract the attention of the security services, who put their top man, James Word, onto the case.

There’s also a criminal interest, as the bombastic Major Bourdon and his sidekick, Swyne, see Angvia as a world to conquer, and command.

That’s about all I can say about the story, without giving the ending away.

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I’d rather focus on what’s good, and bad, about the film.

As far as good stuff goes, there’s a very sixties, hippy trippy style about the film, with lots of flashbacks and mini-skirts, and Angvia looks like a psychedelic maze.

That’s pretty much it for good stuff.

Because the story makes no sense, the acting is dire, the dialogue poor, the pace sluggish at best, and the characters never convince you that they are doing anything more than dialling it in.

When you hear the name of the female planet (a very obvious anagram) and the name of the secret agent (“my word is my bond”…) it’s clear that nothing the director, producer or writers did had any real thought behind it, so transparent is the production and delivery.

The casting is frankly baffling, with the two main bad guys being played by James Robertson Justice and Charles Hawtrey, two of our most loved and funniest actors. Seeing them in full on villain mode is a little unsettling.

I think the movie can best be summed up like this: the females – and there are many – spend most of the movie half-clothed at best. Those women include Valerie Leon, Yutte Stensgaard, Carol Hawkins and Anna Gael, some of the Sixties’ most beautiful actresses.

But all you notice is how bad the whole thing is.

One for novelty-value viewing only, I’m afraid….

Barbarella

Year: 1968

Director: Dino di Laurentiis

Stars: Jane Fonda, Anita Pallenberg, John Phillip Law, Milo O’Shea, Marcel Marceau.

Another of those films which that could only have been made in the one decade, Barbarella is a delightful trip through a peace-loving and war-free 41st Century, as Jane Fonda’s Barbarella (as close to a secret agent as the 41st Century appears to have) travels to Tau Ceti to locate a missing professor and prevent his newly invented weapon falling into the hands of someone who might use it.

Cue skimpy costumes that seem to fall off at a whim, the rediscovery of sex the old-fashioned way, and some spot-on psychedelic imagery and music that firmly sets this in a sixties vision of the future.

And this is all deliberate. Roger Vadim, the producer (and at the time Jane Fonda’s husband) set out to make a film that was primarily character-driven, with the innocent and vaguely naive Barbarella at the centre. As such there’s little in the way of technology or huge effects, and plenty of wildly camp characters over-acting at every single opportunity.

Barbarella is therefore not notable for acting, script, plot or surprises. However, as an experience, it’s groovy…

Master Of The World

Year: 1961

Director: William Witney

Stars: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, Richard Harrison

An idealistic pacifist and inventor Robur determines to beat nations into non-aggression, by threatening their destruction from on high if they don’t immediately disarm.

An interesting and definitely stylised film set in the 1860s, it’s pretty much 20,000 Leagues ABOVE The Sea, with Price wonderfully sinister and captivating in the role of Robur / Nemo. In his flying machine, he plans a utopian world below, where any desire or capability for war is beaten out of the nations by the fear of his awesome firepower. Things come unstuck for him when he abducts a group of Americans who discover his plans: an arms manufacturer, his daughter, her fiancee (a bit of a hot-headed idealist himself) and a US Government agent. Whilst being held so that they do not reveal any of Robur’s plan, they slowly plot to prevent the emasculation or destruction of the world.

Price is the main draw here, of course, but Bronson is good as Strock, the US agent whose intent is to prevent Robur carrying out his violent plans. The rest of the cast are OK in an early sixties b-movie way, and the scenery and effects can most generously be described as ‘stock’. They certainly didn’t extend much in the way of budget, and indeed there’s a definite feel of Adam West’s Batman movie about the scenery and costumes.

It’s fun and inoffensive enough, but a certain Sunday afternoon movie, nothing more.

How To Murder Your Wife

Year: 1965

Director: Richard Quine

Stars: Jack Lemmon, Virna Lisi, Terry-thomas

Stanley, a syndicated cartoonist and confirmed bachelor finds himself married after a drunken party. Whilst his new wife is beautiful and sexy, she is also Italian and speaks no English.  Now despite her obvious charms, married life doesn’t sit well with Stanley, as his entire world changes overnight. His routine (wake when his valet Charles prompts him, shower, breakfast, work, gymnasium, a quick drink in his favourite bar, then back home to dinner and a perfectly chilled martini – either alone or with whatever young lady catches his eye) is completely thrown out the window. For one thing, Charles never works for married men, and promptly hands in his notice.

As Stanley’s life is turned upside down, he and Charles start musing on a way to return life to its previous blissful state. Things take a sinister turn, and when she disappears, the finger points towards murder…

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How To Murder Your Wife is a lovely comedy about the challenges men experience with – and without – the controlling hand of a wife. Jack Lemmon shows excellent comic timing as the determined yet down-trodden Stanley, Terry-thomas is simply his wonderful self as Charles, the suave, debonair and crafty gentleman’s personal gentleman, and Virna Lisi is perfectly gorgeous from the moment she pops out of the cake and her eyes meet Stanley’s gaze.

Blessed with cliches and a supporting cast who wring every ounce of humour from the script, this is one of the sixties’ finest and best.

Eegah!

Year: 1962

Director: Arch Hall Sr.

Stars: Arch Hall Sr., Arch Hall Jr., Marilyn Manning, Richard Kiel.

On the surface, this is typical sixties B-movie fare – a spoilt rich-kid dolly bird driving her lovely convertible through the California desert nearly crashes into a giant caveman character who appears out of nowhere. The said dolly bird’s boyfriend (a terrible wannabe popstar) and her father go to hunt him down, the caveman captures the dolly bird and the father, and before the conclusion, she undergoes some kind of Stockholm Syndrome and starts to care for him, all to no avail.

Yeah, it sounds pretty crappy. And in truth, it IS pretty crappy. But does it deserve it’s place at number 48 on IMDB’s all-time worst movies?

Well….. yes, probably. But it’s a bit of a mix, to be honest.  Let’s start with the bad news…

Arch Hall Jr. is utterly terrible as Tom, the apparent ‘hero’, with his abysmal acting, his excremental singing, and his godawful hairstyle. If you needed evidence of just how far Daddy would go to try and give his son the career he so richly didn’t deserve, this is it. From his dire songs, to his unbelievably bad action man poses, via his total lack of timing when delivering any line whatsoever, he’s a walking joke and thankfully we’re not sitting on a big back catalogue of his films.

Arch Hall Sr. is pretty underused, but seeing as he was director, producer, story writer, financier, and provided many of the non-desert locations, I guess it’s a mercy he didn’t do much on screen. He’s basically playing himself – a rich, privileged bloke who thinks he can do whatever he likes, because he has money and a name. Shame he’s not better at acting himself on screen.

Marilyn Manning went on to have just three roles in all, and she really couldn’t have harmed her fledgling career any more terminally than to have appeared in this shocker. Learning her ‘craft’ in front of the camera isn’t a wise idea, as she shows her lack of talent and experience every time she moves, or opens her mouth.

And now we come to the ‘good stuff’. Richard Kiel’s performance of Eegar is actually not that bad. For someone who was cast basically for his seven-foot-plus-change frame, he showed the mark of a good actor by making the most of his role, and manages to win over the audience with some pathos and humour. As the only person to emerge from this dross with a career, he’s done pretty well.

I’m still duty bound to give this a maximum of 4/10, but Kiel earns at least three of those points.

2001: a Space Odyssey

Year: 1968

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood

2001: A Space Odyssey

Short review: the bigger the screen, the better the film.

OK, let’s build on that a little, because otherwise it may be a little confusing.

Kubrick’s 1968 opus is basically the story of a series of black slabs, found by pre-sapien hominids on Earth, then by lunar explorers, then finally in orbit around Jupiter. What these slabs are, and where they come from, is never explained, however they book-end the tale of the US Spacecraft Discovery One, it’s five-man crew, and Hal, the HAL-9000 computer that controls the ship’s functions.

The core of the film shows us what happens when the two crewmen not in hibernation for the trip discover that Hal is malfunctioning. The fight for their lives and to wrest control of the ship from the computer is the exciting bit, albeit slower paced than it might have been. The rest of it, namely the bits with the slabs is confusing and – to be absolutely honest – needless. In fact, it only serves but a single purpose, and that’s where we know it’s a Kubrick film. It sets the scale of the long-shots.

There are so many long, lingering shots of slow-moving spacecraft, men walking through corridors, planets in orbit, that you soon realise that another director – maybe one less obsessed with the visually spectacular – would easily have cut the film down from it’s overly long 142 minutes (the world premier actually ran to 161 minutes) to something around the hour mark.

So we have a movie where more than half the screen time is taken up with ‘the Kubrick effect’ and that’s something that simply doesn’t transfer adequately to the TV screen.  It’s like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where they used the excuse of a transporter malfunction to allow Scotty and Kirk a long, loving shuttle-pod ride around the Enterprise in spacedock. Nice on the big screen, but not necessary and – on a smaller TV screen – more than a little underwhelming.

So – 2001. Visually stunning in the right setting, and nearly half the film is ok, if a little plodding. But if you don’t see it in an IMAX cinema, then don’t be surprised if you give up midway through.

Carry On Screaming

Year: 1966
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Harry H. Corbett, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Bernard Bresslaw, Fenella Fielding, Charles Hawtrey, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims, Angela Douglas

The sixties was the heyday for the Hammer Studios, and as such it was only a matter of time before the Carry On crew took a shot at them. The result is one of the funniest and most successful of the series.

One of the few not starring Sid James, the lead here goes instead to Harry H. Corbett, and you have to say that his role as Detective Sergeant Bung is arguably better than Sid James would have given. Ably assisted by Peter Butterworth as Constable Slobotham, Bung is on the case of the missing women – six having disappeared from the same spot inside a year. With their typically sharp deduction, they believe that there just might be a connection…

When Jim Dale’s girlfriend is taken from the same spot in Hockum Woods, the attention is soon focused on the old house inhabited by Dr Watt (Kenneth Williams), his sister Valeria (a sultry Fenella Fielding) and their butler Sockett (a very straight-faced Bernard Bresslaw). They are the undead, of course, but the way we discover this, and get to the finale (via some far fetched jokes, some incredible overacting, and very clever use of the sets and techniques of the Hammer Studios) is a joy to behold.

And it’s the attention to detail that makes the movie stand out – at first glance it IS a Hammer movie. And at second glance too. But this is also very much a Carry On, and is the best horror genre spoof you’ll ever see.

Carry On Regardless

Year: 1961
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Sid James, Kenneth Connor, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Bill Owen, Liz Fraser, Terence Longdon, Esma Cannon, Stanley Unwin

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As far as Carry On films go, Carry On Regardless is a little unique. All of the other outings for the team over the years delivered a strong storyline, flowing from one scene to the next, and things just… fitted. Regardless is far more a series of separate sketches, linked together by a common start point, namely the office of the ‘Helping Hands’ agency. and while these sketches are all very funny in their own right, somehow this makes the film itself feel more than a little disjointed.

Sid James is Bert Handy, owner of the agency, and his staff all come from the unemployment office (except the delightfully dotty Esma Cannon as Miss Cooling, his devoted secretary.) Displaying as they do a talent for not holding down a steady job, they are ideal for the more unusual assignments that Helping Hands seems to attract, like escorting pet chimpanzees for walkies, greeting guests at a wine-tasting event (Joan Sims is excellent as the quickly-sozzled Lily), and the babysitting job that turns out to be a ‘make husband jealous’ task for Kenneth Connor, although to be fair he probably resisted Fenella Fielding’s charms a little too much to be convincing.

As the film progresses slowly towards its inevitable calamitous conclusion, it’s easy to forget the sketches that have gone before. As I said, good as they are they are a little too disjointed to really work well together.

Overall, an enjoyable 90 minutes, but a 90 minutes you can take in bite-sized chunks without losing too much of the plot.

Carry On Jack

Year: 1963
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Kenneth Williams, Bernard Cribbins, Charles Hawtrey, Juliet Mills, Donald Houston, Jim Dale, Percy Herbert, Patrick Cargill, Cecil Parker, Ed Devereaux, Peter Gilmore, George Woodbridge, Anton Rodgers

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This early entry to the Carry On legacy doesn’t seem to fit the bill for many people. Maybe there were too few of the core team – no Sid James, no Kenneth Connor, no Hattie Jacques. Perhaps it was that this was the first attempt at an historical setting, rather than the contemporary, work-place films that had kicked off the Carry Ons. I’m not sure anyone really knows.

Let’s consider the evidence.

First the plot. It’s around 1800, and naval hostilities against Spain are at their height. Britain needs every man available to crew their warships – even one as inept as Albert Poop-Decker (Bernard Cribbins). Having failed to graduate from Naval Academy seven times, they really can’t wait any longer, and decide to award him his midshipman rank and posting to His Majesty’s frigate Venus. When he gets there, he falls foul firstly of a local girl called Sally (Juliet Mills) who wanted to go to sea in search of her childhood sweetheart, and secondly of the press gang, led by Mr Howett (Donald Houston). He wakes up in the hold of the Venus, next to local cesspit cleaner Walter Sweetley (Charles Hawtrey). It’s not long before he things are made clear to him: his place next to Captain Fearless (Kenneth Williams) has been taken by Sally in disguise, and his days consist of staying clear of trouble as a lowly seaman. Until there is a mutiny, and it’s time to stand up and be counted – both as a sailor and as a man in love….

Now this story has promise, and indeed some of the stars deliver. Williams and Hawtrey are both very good at doing what they are very good at – delivering a line with the right amount of innuendo, timing, and pathos. But once you get past their performances you tend to see the cracks. Cribbins is OK, but in truth he’s far more convincing as the downtrodden victim than the upstanding hero he’s forced to become. Juliet Mills is…. pretty. Which isn’t a quality you’d want in a midshipman (well, not unless you were on an excessively long voyage where even your bunkmates began to look attractive). As a pretend man, it doesn’t really work, and she’s a less convincing crossdresser than Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot.

Most of the action takes place on board ship, which is a little confining, and leaves too much emphasis on actors whose performances were below par to begin with.

All in all, whilst there were certainly worse Carry On films (especially towards the end of the series), this was not one of the best efforts, and certainly would have been improved by more of the regulars.

Carry On Cowboy

Year: 1965
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Angela Douglas, Bernard Bresslaw, Peter Butterworth, Jon Pertwee, Percy Herbert, Sydney Bromley, Edina Ronay, Lionel Murton, Peter Gilmore, Davy Kaye, Margaret Nolan

1965 was a quiet year for Carry On movies – the previous year saw three released, and 1966 would see a further two. So this effort was the only thing that Carry On fans had to look forward to. And it’s a pretty good effort.

Filmed entirely in Pinewood Studios and nearby Black Park, this movie tells the story of Stodge City, a town turned from a puritan, temperate ‘paradise’ into a murderous, lawless town when the Sherrif, Albert Earp, is killed by Johnny Finger, a.k.a. The Rumpo Kid. In shades of Blazing Saddles, the call goes out for a new sherrif, and instead of a lawman, the town gets a drainage engineer, in the shape of Marshal P Knutt. Expecting to go ‘clean up the town’, Marshal heads out west, surviving the best efforts of Rumpo, his gang, and their tame indians, led by Chief Big Heap, who will do whatever they ask in return for a steady supply of Fire-water.

Also in town is Annie Oakley, who turns out to be the daughter of the murdered Sherrif and is seeking revenge on ‘the man who shot my pa’. All standard fare as westerns go, but there are some interesting scenes, a few chuckles, and some memorable lines along the way.

Sid James is his usual self as the Rumpo Kid, and I actually like this performance more than most, because he’d probably have made a good cowboy actor on this performance. Jim Dale is spectacularly hapless as the out-of-his-depth lawman, and this helped him to pull off a more than creditable performance as the soppy yet successful romantic lead, since both Joan Sims (as the saloon owner Belle) and Angela Douglas (as sharp-shooting Annie Oakley) fall for him. Everyone else is really there as wallpaper in this one, and even Kenneth Williams (as the mayor), Bernard Bresslaw (in his first Carry On role as the Chief’s son Little Heap) and Charles Hawtrey (as Chief Big Heap) are never stretched very far.

It’s worth seeing, and might be better appreciated were it not part of a long series of successful comedies. They have done better than this, but you’ll easily find movies that are far less funny and far less watchable.

The Silencers

Year: 1966
Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: Dean Martin, Stella Stevens, Victor Buono, Daliah Lavi, James Gregory

Meet Matt Helm. He’s a smooth-talking, smooth crooning, hard drinking womaniser with an eye – and a camera lens – for a beautiful girl in a well-filled bikini. Thing is, he’s also a secret agent, in fact one of America’s finest, and it’s time for him to crack his next case.

Dean Martin turned his hand to the spy genre in the mid sixties, starting with The Silencers, based on one of the 27 books written by author Donald Hamilton. Where Hamilton’s books were dark, gritty and very realistic, the movies took a more light-hearted view, such as was seen in the Flint movies and in the original Casino Royale. Indeed, it’s hard to say how seriously Martin took the role, as there is ample evidence of humour and action present throughout the series. One thing is for certain – he sure enjoyed playing the role.

In The Silencers, Martin is pitched, along with his fellow I.C.E agents, against the organisation known only as Big O. There’s a nuclear test taking place in three days time, and there’s also a test of a new missile. Big O plan to disrupt both, sending the missile off course to crash into the nuclear test, causing much of America to be engulfed in radioactive fallout. They just need the final piece of the jigsaw – computer tapes from a traitorous scientist. Helm is sent to intercept the handover, and whilst they are successful, the trail leads him on to San Jose in the company of the innocently ditzy Gail Hendricks, wonderfully played by Stella Stevens.

Of course, they sort it out in the end, but that’s not important. The main thing about this movie is the spark between Martin and Stevens. Their scenes together (especially the part where they pull off the road to sleep in the car overnight) are great.

Martin went on to play Helm in three sequels: Murderers Row, The Ambushers, and The Wrecking Crew. Rumour has it that there are also plans for a Spielberg-led reboot.

To be as enjoyable, timeless and watchable as The Silencers, it’ll have to be damn good….

Carry On Spying

Year: 1964
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard Cribbins, Eric Barker, Jim Dale, Richard Wattis, Eric Pohlmann, Dilys Laye

Carry On #9 turned its attention to the next most popular and lasting British film series – James Bond. And as a parody of all things Bond, this works really well.

The excellent Talbot Rothwell script is delivered superbly by a top team of stars, including Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor, Charles Hawtrey, and Bernard Cribbins as the clumsily successful group of secret agents whose latest mission is to battle against the evils of STENCH and recover the secret formula stolen by the cunning Milchmann from under the noses of the security forces.

With names such as James Bind, Daphne Honeybutt, and The Fat Man (“Description – Male, Fat.”) you know that the level and consistency of the jokes will be best described as thick and fast. And the scenes where our heroes get to grips with The Fat Man (Eric Pohlmann) in the kasbah (including Bernard Cribbins as the least-convincing drag-act I think has ever been seen on screen) and the evil Dr Crow in her secret lair are fast-paced and frenetic. What they do achieve, to great effect, is to capture the mood and style of the early sixties spy thrillers almost as well as Carry On Screaming would do with Hammer Horrors two years later.

Williams and Hawtrey are very good as agents Simkins (the experienced one) and Bind (the effeminate one), whilst Barbara Windsor’s first appearance in a Carry On is memorable, and not just for setting the tone of all her other appearances. Bernard Cribbins reprised his clumsy male lead role from Carry On Jack, and whilst the result is enjoyable, after this film the role of young romantic male lead went to Jim Dale, and in fairness to them both, Dale was better in this type of role. In Spying, he puts in some great cameo moments as the ‘official’ spy Carstairs, and proved his worth to the production team, probably winning the chance to star in the next outing, Carry On Cowboy, in which he excelled.

Moodily shot in black and white (a production decision after the previous few were shot in glorious Technicolor), Spying is one of the best Carry On films.

Planet Of The Apes

Year: 1968

Director: Franklin J Schaffner

Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison

Testing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, four astronauts take off from Earth at the end of the 20th Century for a quick trip at near light speed. Coming out of hibernation, they find three terrible things: firstly, one of their crew had died during the trip; secondly, they have crashed onto an unknown planet; and thirdly, according to the ship’s calendar, Einstein was right – although only a few months have passed for the crew, it is now two thousand years since they left Earth. But their troubles are only just beginning.

The concept behind Planet Of The Apes was a strong one – strong enough to spawn four sequels, a television series, an animated series, and (over thirty years later) a reboot that did nothing but prove the theory that no movie plot is so perfect that it can’t be ruined by being remade by Tim Burton.

It’s a highly stylised movie, and at its heart is not the science fiction, nor the incredible costume effects. This movie is in reality a very effective piece of social commentary. By holding a mirror to the world, and reversing the role of ape and human, it’s easier to see the brutality and hatred that, at the time, was seen as endemic in large parts of our society.

As we follow the surviving astronauts across the barren wasteland, to their first encounter with the speechless, scavenging humans, through the discovery that the humans have been enslaved by the dominant apes and used for menial work, sport, target practice and even medical experimentation, through to their own capture and imprisonment, we are given a unique insight into the world as experienced by animals and (to our shame) pretty much every non-white race in humanity’s history. Viewed on this level, Planet Of The Apes is a sobering experience, and one that cannot be glossed over.

However, it’s also impossible to ignore the fact that even without this social element, this is a extremely well-crafted movie. Charlton Heston plays Taylor, the last surviving astronaut, very well indeed. Unable to speak himself after a throat injury sustained during his capture, the first half of the movie builds to the point where he finally voices his feelings in very public fashion, yelling “Get your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty ape!”

After this, he is treated as a freak, and put on trial for heresy. He only escapes due to the compassion shown by the chimpanzee scientists Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter). They help Taylor escape with a young human female, named Nova (Linda Harrison), with whom Taylor was captured and whom the apes looked upon originally as a breeding pair. They head off into the wilderness, looking to find a cave containing evidence of an earlier human tribe with speech and toolmaking ability, against the objections of Dr Zaius (Maurice Evans) who has reponsibilities both to the science and religious communities.

When they finally get to the cave, it’s clear that their claims are true, but Zaius makes them understand that the world isn’t ready for such a revelation. Letting Taylor and Nova go, he seals the cave. And Taylor and Nova ride off along the shore, only to discover that the distant planet that the ship crash-landed upon wasn’t so distand from Earth after all….

This movie is a must-see for all. It’s a classic moment in movie history, and whether you watch for the science fiction, the social commentary, or purely for entertainment, you’ll not go away disappointed.

Carry On Follow That Camel

Year: 1967

Director: Gerald Thomas

Stars: Phil Silvers, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard Bresslaw, Angela Douglas, Anita Harris, Peter Gilmore

Bertram Oliphant West (Jim Dale), known to friends as Bo, is a typical English gentleman, with his country house, impeccable manners, well-brought up fiancee and devoted manservant. When he is falsely accused of ungentlemanly behaviour, following an incident at a cricket match, West runs away to join the French Foreign Legion, accompanied by his faithful retainer, Simpson (Peter Butterworth).

When he reaches the North African town where the fort is, he asks directions from Zigzig (Joan Sims), a local ‘lady of pleasure’, who at that moment was entertaining Sergeant Knocker (Phil Silvers), the local hero of the Legion. When Knocker then tries to make life hard for the new recruits, they let him know that his tales of hardship and long treks across the desert waste were mere fiction dreamed up to cover for his lengthy stays with Zigzig, and fearing that his superior officer Commander Burger (Kenneth Williams) will strip him of his medals, Knocker sees to it that life becomes a breeze once more.

Except that the fort is beseiged by the hordes of Sheikh Abdul Abulbul (Bernard Bresslaw).

Meanwhile, the truth has been revealed about the cricket incident, and aware that an injustice has been done, West’s fiancee Lady Jane (Angela Douglas) comes searching for her love…….

This entry into Carry On lore has many things going for it. The performances of the established stars are very creditable, and one that stands out for me is Charles Hawtrey as burger’s adjutant, Capitan Le Pice (cue loads of ‘Oui, Oui’ jokes here…). Others stand out for other reasons, most notably Anita Harris as the exotic dancer Corktip, which is one of the best Carry On character names I’ve heard.

Others do very well, and the script has some great lines in it, but somehow, the movie doesn’t really work. And the reason for this is simple. It’s Bilko in the Desert and good as Phil Silvers is, it’s not Carry On. Not for me. And that disappoints me a little, because overall I feel I should enjoy this movie more than I actually do.

As with Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head, the Carry On tag was added almost as an afterthought. And unlike Don’t Lose Your Head, in this case it feels like an afterthought. Which is sad, because I’m still certain that if you remove the comparison to other movies in the series, you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.

Carry On Camping

Year: 1969
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Sid James, Bernard Bresslaw, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor, Peter Butterworth, Terry Scott, Charles Hawtrey, Dilys Laye, Hattie Jacques, Betty Marsden

Sid and Bernie are two typical sixties men on the make – their girlfriends Joan and Anthea being the ones that want to make it with. However, a couple of things keep getting in the way, namely Joan’s mum and Anthea’s constitution.

When the boys see a movie about naturism, they cook up a plan to get their two unsuspecting girlfriends away to a more ‘relaxed’ place. Once the inhibitions (and the clothes) have been shed, it’s just a matter of time…. or so they believe!

Shot at Pinewood Studios and the surrounding towns, ‘Camping’ is yet another success story, owing as much to the script of Talbot Rothwell as the skills of director Gerald Thomas, producer Peter Rogers, and the cast. This is one of the more memorable of the series, due to certain scenes such as Barbara Windsor’s bra flying off during a more vigorous exercise routine. But this is more than just a one scene, one star movie.

You have people like Terry Scott, who longs for a holiday abroad, but instead has the same two weeks every year, camping with wife Betty Marsden. Dressed in khaki and strapped to a tandem, you can just tell that he’s soooo delighted to be going. They meet up with Charles Hawtrey, who has lost his tent, and this prompts more baying laughter from Marsden (obviously this is why she was cast in the role, as she is unfortunately the weakest of the cast).

You have Peter Butterworth as the owner of the (sadly non-nudist) campsite, the appropriately named Joshua Fiddler, who is out to make money from every possible source. You have Kenneth Williams as the headmaster of Chayste Place, the girls school that’s anything but chaste, because not even Hattie Jacques as Matron can keep Barbara Windsor and the rest of the girls in order.

The rest of the movie revolves around Sid and Bernie trying new ways to get their poles up, and avoid being caught ogling the girls by their ladies. Pretty standard stuff for the team, but very, very well delivered.

One other thing to bear in mind when watching – the film was shot in glorious winter-time, and it was cold, wet, and far from the green field you see on screen. Leaves were painted green to give the impression of a sunny summer’s day, and if you notice, much of the action at the campsiter was shot from (at least) the knees upwards, so as not to feature the boards that the cast stood upon or walked on to avoid churning the field into a mud-bath…

Carry On Cruising

Year: 1962
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Dilys Laye, Liz Fraser, Esma Cannon, Lance Percival

The sixth Carry On was launched on the back of the early sixties fashion for holiday cruises, and is noticable for being the first Carry On filmed in glorious Eastman Colour.

Plot synopsis: Captain Crowther (Sid James) is surprised to find that most of his crew aboard this sailing of the SS Happy Wanderer are new – including the doctor, first officer, chef, chief steward, and barman. Aware that he’s up for promotion to the Trans-Atlantic fleet, Captain Crowther is keen to have a trouble-free voyage.

What he didn’t count on was chef Wilfred Hains (Lance Percival) suffering so much from sea-sickness that he can’t look at the soup without feeling nauseous; Doctor Binn (Kenneth Connor) falling for one of the passengers, and being more interested in operating on Flo (Dilys Laye) than his patients; First Officer Majorbanks (Kenneth Williams) mixing ineptitude with condescention; and worst of all, no respite in alcohol – the previous barman was the only one able to mix his favourite tipple, the Aberdeen Angus!

One by one, they embarrass and disappoint him, and their efforts to get back into his good books only serve to make the situation worse…..

This entry in the Carry On series isn’t often spoken about with glowing reports, and the reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, the script, penned by Norman Hudis, seems to fall pretty neatly between the early gentle comedies of the late 50s (on which previous Carry On films traded so well) and the double-entendre laden gems of the Talbot Rothwell era. As such, it feels like a film that should be funnier than it is, or maybe gentler and more innocent than it tries to be.

Secondly, setting the film aboard ship confined the action to a very tight scope, and as we saw 30 years later with Carry On Columbus, Carry On humour often needs space to work.

It’s not a bad film, don’t get me wrong. There are a number of Carry On efforts I’d pass over for the chance to watch Cruising again – and not just for the wonderful scene where Esma Cannon gets slowly plastered. But it’s certainly not one of the strongest in the series.

Carry On Cabby

Year: 1963
Director: Peter Rogers
Stars: Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Esma Cannon, Liz Fraser, Jim Dale, Amanda Barrie

Carry On Cabby wasn’t originally meant to be a Carry On film. Much like The Big Job, Watch Your Stern or What A Carve Up, all of which were made by the same production team, with much the same cast. Initially titled ‘Call Me A Cab, Cabby was retitled after production, because it just ‘fitted’ very well with the rest of the series.

Speedie Cabs, owned and run by Charlie Hawkins (Sid James), is the only cab company in town. As such, Charlie spends a little too much time cabbing, and not enough time with his wife Peggy (Hattie Jacques). Peggy wants a quiet little country cottage, with just her husband and maybe kids for company. Instead she lives in a flat above the garage, and sits and waits for Charlie to get home.

One day things go too far, and she vows to get her revenge. Under the false premise of going out and getting a job, Peggy sets up Glam Cabs – with the newest cars, new premises, and an all-female, all sexy workforce. And pretty soon Speedie Cabs has lost just about all its business. None of their schemes work, and it’s only when Charlie is about to throw in the towel, that he finally discovers who’s behind Glam Cabs.

It’s now all-out war, but things all change when Peggy is kidnapped on the way to the bank……

Carry On Cabby is full of great performances, from Sid James and Hattie Jaqcues primarily, but also from Kenneth Connor as Charlie’s second-in-command Ted Watson, Liz Frazer as tea-lady and Ted’s girlfriend Sally, Esma Cannon as the pint-sized Flo, who helps Peggy get started, and Charles Hawtrey as inept Terry Tankard, known to most as ‘Pint-Pot’ (or something like that….)

The script is great, mainly because it’s Talbot Rothwell’s first outing as a Carry On writer. But it’s the whole package that delights – constantly gentle, funny, endearing, and just damn good fun.

Carry On Again Doctor

Year: 1969
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Sid James, Jim Dale, Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims, Patsy Rowlands, Peter Butterworth, Elizabeth Knight, Peter Gilmore, Alexandra Dane, Pat Coombs, William Mervyn, Patricia Hayes, Valerie Leon

Cashing in on the wave of Carry On euphoria in the late sixties, and falling back on their most successful setting – hospitals – Carry On Again Doctor once more casts Jim Dale as the young, lively, honest, and clumsy doctor that he first introduced in Carry On Doctor two years previously. This time he plays Dr Nookey, whose eye for the ladies is bound to get him in trouble with his boss, Dr Frederick Carver (played as only Kenneth Williams could play him).

And sure enough, after a series of blunders, caused by his relentless pursuit of Barbara Windsor’s Goldie Locks, Dr Nookey is shipped off to a hospital mission on the inappropriately named Beatific Islands.

This gets him nicely out of the way for Dr Carver, whose aim is to screw…. some money out of Ellen More (Joan Sims), a wealthy widow with, shall we say somewhat generous tendencies and an eye for a new partner. Carver wants to set up a private clinic, but needs her money to do it.

Meanwhile, back on The Beatific Islands, it hasn’t stopped raining, the one jigsaw puzzle on the island has a missing piece, and the scotch has run out. But there turns out to be a surprise bonus, in the shape of Gladstone Screwer (Sid James), and his miracle weight loss formula. Armed with this wonder-serum, Dr Nookey returns to England, sets up his own private clinic, and successfully recruits Ellen More to help finance the operation.

This upsets a few people, of course. Dr Carver, with the assistance of psychiatrist Dr Stoppidge (Charles Hawtrey) tries all he can to discover the secret formula, including planting a ‘woman’ in the female-only clinic, and Gladstone Screwer, who works out that the 200 cigarettes a bottle he gets paid for the serum might not be enough, decides to travel to England on a little visit…..

This movie, like the others in the series, has great performances, a wonderful script, and some really funny lines. Cameo performances abound, most notable from Peter Butterworth, whose response when Dr Nookey and a colleague have a bet on a ‘spot-analysis’ on his condition is magical.

Carry On Up The Khyber

Year: 1968
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Sid James, Joan Sims, Roy Castle, Terry Scott, Kenneth Williams, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Angela Douglas, Cardew Robinson, Peter Gilmore, Julian Holloway, Leon Thau

It’s the golden Age for the British in India. Queen Victoria is on the throne, Her Majesty’s governors are living the life of luxury, and all is well….. well, maybe not all.

In the northern Province of Kalabar, things are stirring. Randi Lal, the Karsi of Kalabar, is desperate to throw the British out of India. But since his province is policed by HM 3rd Foot & Mouth (nicknamed “The Devils In Skirts”) this seems impossible. Their reputation for being fearless and invincible is fueled by their reputation for wearing nothing under their kilts – however cold it gets. And so the Karsi waits – until he gets evidence that all is not what it appears. One of his neighbouring tribal leaders, Bungdit Din, brings him a pair of woolen underpants, taken from a particularly ineffective guard at the infamous Khyber Pass. If all of the local tribes see this, they will rise up!

It’s down to the British to kill the rumour quickly. The Governor, Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond, Captain Keene, and Sgt. Maj. MacNutt sound out the Karsi, but he’s not giving in. Their one hope may lie in the Karsi’s daughter, the lovely Princess Jelhi, who instantly falls for Capt. Keene. And she does help, because she tells Keene that Lady Ruff-Diamond has gone to the Karsi, offering herself, and also a photograph of soldiers wearing far too much down below……

With the help of a local missionary, Brother Belcher, and the hapless guard, Private Widdle, Keene and MacNutt break into Bundgit Din’s palace, and ultimately escape with their lives, the Princess, and Lady Ruff-Diamond, but unfortunately not the damning photograph.

This is all the locals need to attack the governor’s mansion, and a fierce battle rages, but they made one key error – they launched their attack at dinner time. And no true Englishman likes being disturbed at dinner…..
* * *

This movie is named as many people’s all-time favourites. The performances, especially by Kenneth Williams and Bernard Bresslaw as the local chiefs, is superb. Roy Castle as Capt. Keene is very, very good – especially when you realise that he was only bought in when Jim Dale decided to honour his other work commitments instead of doing the movie. Peter Butterworth, Terry Scott, Sid James, Joan Sims, and Charles Hawtrey are all wonderful, and Angela Douglas is suitably beautiful and innocent as the Princess. All the lines are here, all the laughs, and then there’s the truly unforgettable dining-room scene at the end.

Jolly well done, say I!

 

Carry On Doctor

Year: 1968
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd, Bernard Bresslaw, Jim Dale, Barbara Windsor, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Anita Harris, Joan Sims
Imagine a world where the National Health Service actually worked. Where the nurses were pretty and the doctors were dedicated, where the managers were upper-class twits and the Matrons ruled with a rod of iron, and where it was still possible to get an injury or illness and be treated for it in the same decade. Welcome to the world that is Carry On Doctor.

Now, in my view, Carry On movies are like Marmite. You either love them or you hate them. And personally, there are few better pleasures in life than to give yourself 90 minutes of pure indulgence, take the telephone and your brain off the hook, and sit back in the expectation that you will be completely unchallenged for the duration of the movie. That’s the beauty of Carry On. And that’s why they remain the most successful and best-loved of British comedy films.

Everyone (at least, all the marmite-eating pleasure seekers) has their own favourite, and they will invariably choose one of the ‘classics’, produced by Peter Rogers, directed by Gerald Thomas, and written with consummate ease by the king of the double-entendre, Talbot Rothwell. From Carry On Cabby in 1963, through to Carry On Dick in 1974, Rothwell turned out sublime scripts, that the familiar cast took to comedic heights. Carry On Doctor is the one for me. It managed to push all of the right buttons, and it’s one I return to regularly for my spoonful of cheer.

Let me give you a brief summary: Jim Dale is Dr Kilmore, a dedicated, hard-working, and well respected doctor. The patients (and one nurse in particular) love him, but he is hated by Dr Tinkle (Kenneth Williams) and Matron (Hattie Jacques). And unfortunately, they are in positions of authority, so they are just waiting for him to slip up.

The hospital has its full complement of seriously ill people and malingerers, such as Charles Hawtrey, whose ‘phantom pregnancy’ gives more realistic symptoms than those of his wife, and Bernard Bresslaw, who manages to get a fortnight in hospital for an ingrowing toenail. In addition, the doctors are suffering under the scorn of Francis Biggar (Frankie Howerd), a travelling quack who is promoting “The Biggar Way to Health” when a fall from the stage leads him to forsake ‘mind over matter’ for excruciating pain and a private room in the hospital. Overhearing part of a conversation, he’s led to believe that he only has a week to live, and therefore fulfils his promise to marry his dull, plain assistant, Chloe. When he finds out that they only meant him to have the hospital bed for a week, he’s a little annoyed to say the least.

Anyway, back to Drs Tinkle and Kilmore. Enter Student Nurse Sandra May (Barbara Windsor) whose uniform shows that she could balance a tray of drinks and still have her hands free. She has an infatuation for Dr Tinkle, who she believes saved her life when she was a child, but he spurns her. Suspended from duty, she then decides to sunbathe on the roof of the nurses home opposite, prompting Dr Kilmore to think she’s suicidal and attempt a spectacularly ineffective rescue, resulting in disrobed nurses and a splash-down in a nurses bath. The scandal this causes is all the ammo that Dr Tinkle and Matron need, and Dr Kilmore is fired. This upsets both the patients (who are well used to Dr Tinkle’s ‘traditional’ healing methods, such as ice baths and no booze) and the infatuated Nurse Clark (Anita Harris). But unlike the demure Nurse Clark, the patients won’t take this lying down, and suddenly there is a full-scale rebellion…….

The regular cast are all here, including Sid James, whose scenes were almost entirely shot in bed. He’d suffered a heart attack shortly before filming began, and this way he could rest up. Bernard Bresslaw, Charles Hawtrey, Peter Butterworth and Joan Sims are all very good, as are some of the lesser actors of the age, including Dilys Laye, Peter Gilmore, Derek Guyler, Pat Coombs, and a very young Penelope Keith. However, the star of the show is Frankie Howerd. This movie was one of only two Carry On films in which he starred (Carry On Up the Jungle was the other), and that’s a shame, because he’s very good as the ‘mind over matter’ psychologist, Francis Biggar.

The other reason that I love this particular film is the attention to detail. Much of the exterior filming was carried out in Maidenhead, Berks (my home town), and the entrance to the hospital is still in use today – it’s the main entrance to the Town Hall, slap in the centre of town. When you watch the rooftop scenes, you will see below a car park, which is the actual Town Hall car park (still there) and over the back of the nurses home (shot on location in another town) you can see the old Bus Station – all exactly what you would have seen from the roof of a building opposite the Town Hall that never actually existed…