1958 - 1964 | 1965 - 1969 | 1970 - 1992
Carry On Christmas | Carry On Laughing
The Carry On films were a long-running series of 31 comedy films made between 1958-1992 that also inspired some television spin-offs. Each film was directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers, starring a regular repertoire of actors.
Peter Rogers was an independent producer who released his films through Anglo Amalgamated Films, the UK's second biggest film company of the time behind only J Arthur Rank. Peter Rogers was married to Betty Box, a highly successful producer in her own right. She worked for Gainsborough, part of the J Arthur Rank organisation and produced the Doctor series1. These were directed by Ralph Thomas and edited by his brother Gerald Thomas, who had edited films such as Hamlet (1948), The October Man and Disney's The Sword and the Rose (1955). Recognising that Gerald Thomas had the visual flair required for a director, Rogers approached Thomas to see if he would be interested in directing.
Peter Rogers had a phobia of travel and suffered severely from homesickness. This, as well as budget reasons, meant that the films were made at Pinewood Studios or, when location filming, as close to Pinewood Studios as possible. He also had a reputation for being the lowest-paying producer in Britain; famously not giving the Carry On cast a pay rise between 1958 and 1978 nor allowing them royalties. When the series was established, Sid James and Kenneth Williams were paid £5,000 per film while other starring members of the cast including Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Bernard Bresslaw, Jack Douglas and others as well were paid around £2,500 per film. Meanwhile Rogers himself bought two Rolls Royce a year; a convertible for summer and hardtop for winter. He famously once said I would do anything for my actors, except pay them. His view was that all the actors were expendable as the title Carry On was the star of his films.
The main Carry On cast and actors credited on four or more films are listed in Bold. As the Carry On films are considered to be quite sexist, whether or not the episodes pass the Bechdel Test is also mentioned. This can be summarised as whether the film involves two or more female characters who have a conversation together that does not include or mention any male characters.
1. Carry On Sergeant (1958)
|Plot||A group of incompetent raw National Service recruits are conscripted into the army, much to the annoyance of Sergeant Grimshaw, who has bet £50 that he will have his best platoon. Due to their incompetence and their lack of enthusiasm and ability, they have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems, yet at the end of the film they show they have what it takes to really make it, and Sergeant Grimshaw is proud to have known them as he retires.|
|Colour?||Black and White|
|Setting||Heathercrest National Service Depot, mid-20th Century Britain.|
|Writer||Norman Hudis with John Antrobus|
|Music||By Bruce Montgomery, played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards|
Carry On Sergeant had begun as a promising but unsuitable script titled The Bull Boys by RF Delderfield, in which a couple of ballet dancers are conscripted into the army. After Peter Rogers acquired the script he asked John Antrobus, one of the writers of popular sitcom The Army Game (1957-1961), to develop it. Although Antrobus created several comic scenes that survive in the film, his plot as a whole did not fit together. So the script was given to Norman Hudis, a publicist who Rogers knew wanted a break as a writer. He had the idea for it to be about a bunch of incompetent National Service recruits, including a man who is called up on his wedding day before being able to enjoy his honeymoon.
The film had a small budget of £74,000, about a quarter of the typical cost of a British comedy film at the time. The cast members were paid the bare mimimum, Kenneth Williams receiving only £800, keeping the entire wages bill to a mere £10,985. In order to keep to budget he knew he needed to keep to a minimum-sized workforce, something the Pinewood Studio's Works Committee was happy to agree to when he promised to throw them an end-of-picture party. Filming also took place at the Stoughton Barracks near Guildford in Surrey, with the army happily supplying many of the props needed to make the film realistic, including genuine rifles and machine guns.
Many of the film's star cast would never appear in a Carry On again, including William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse, Dora Bryan and Gerald Campion. This means the film never quite feels like a Carry On until Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey appear, with minor roles compared to the more dominant parts they would play in later films. However the film establishes Hattie Jacques in a firm, authoritative role from the start.
The film industry predicted that the film would flop as Carry On Sergeant shared three of the cast3 with The Army Game, which could be watched at home for free. In fact, The Army Game's popularity helped the film and the actors. As Norman Rossington had recently been informed his contract would not be renewed for more The Army Game, he eagerly filmed Carry On Sergeant and has said,
I don't know if Gerald Thomas, Peter Rogers and Norman Hudis created 'Carry On Sergeant' with 'The Army Game' in mind, but when they heard I was sacked, they asked me to play Herbert Brown.
After the film's success he was reinstated in The Army Game with a pay rise.
2. Carry On Nurse (1959)
|Plot||A week on a men's ward in a hospital ruled by the iron determination of the matron.|
|Colour?||Black and White|
|Setting||King George V Ward in Haven Hospital, mid-20th Century England|
|Nurses & Staff:|
|Patients & Visitors|
|Drag||Charles Hawtrey as a surprisingly believable nurse.|
Following Carry On Sergeant's success Peter Rogers hoped to make a drama, however Anglo Amalgamated wanted another comedy. Rogers owned the film rights to a play called Ring For Catty by Patrick Cargill and Jacke Beale, based in a tuberculosis sanatorium. Although not a comedy, the play contained comic moments, and was used as the start for what became Carry On Nurse. However as so many changes were made that nothing remained of the original play, Rogers would later adapt the it more faithfully.
Norman Hudis' wife, Rita Hudis4, was a nurse who helped provide some ideas, however Hudis hit writer's block until he was rushed into hospital with appendicitis. Inspired, after being discharged he wrote the script in a week. Hudis' mother-in-law provided the idea for the daffodil scene, although Wilfrid Hyde-White was not originally impressed. He had threatened to sue until he was reassured that the joke did not involve any actual nudity and would be told through the power of suggestion. This was also the only Hudis Carry On which didn't involve incompetent staff, saying,
I had no interest or intention of getting dubious laughs out of incompetent nurses: first of all, they wouldn't last long on active duty and second, comedy or not, the underlying reality was that they frequently held life and death in their young hands and screwing up was no laughing matter.
Rogers tried to cast the same actors from Carry On Sergeant, but Dora Bryan was unavailable due to stage commitments. Rogers then cast someone who had appeared in many of his wife's films; Joan Sims. The medical equipment seen in the film was loaned from the Bermondsey Work Group Hospital Management Committee, the Central Middlesex Group Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The building itself was Pinewood Studio's Heatherdean Hall.
While female characters have all the power and authority in the film, they do divide into two categories; nurse or visiting loved one, with the exception of Dr Winn. She only has a minor appearance in the film, however the male surgeon, Mr Stephens, has no more impact. In one scene Charles Hawtrey disguises himself as a nurse played by Marita Stanton, however he looks surprisingly similar to Student Nurse Nightingale (Rosalind Knight), who was seen in a scene set the day before. Kenneth Connor's own son Jeremy plays his character's son Jeremy. Shirley Eaton discovered she was pregnant during filming.
Carry On Nurse became the most successful British film of the year, and was also an unprecedented success in America. In fact it would by far be the most successful of the Carry On series and the only one to make any impact in the United States.
3. Carry On Teacher (1959)
|Plot||The week before the end of term, the headmaster of Maudlin Street Secondary School tells his teachers he is considering applying to be headmaster of a brand new school in the country. This conversation is overheard by one of his pupils who encourages the others to conduct a series of practical jokes while the school is being inspected in order to prevent his getting the job. Following a series of misadventures, at the end of the film Headmaster Wakefield is proud to have known the children and chooses not to accept promotion.|
|Colour?||Black and White|
|Setting||Maudlin Street Secondary Modern School, late 1950s England.|
In many ways, Carry On Teacher is the most dated film of the series, showing an era in which it was considered odd to be a teacher who does not regularly cane their children. Even Mr Milton who strongly disapproves of it admits he has caned pupils in the past. The school has dangerous chemicals and books on bomb-making and terrorism freely accessible but there no sex education and the English department only has the Bowdlerised version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where all the naughty bits have been edited out. Filming took place at Drayton Secondary School in West Ealing during the school holidays, with many local children turning up to appear in the final scene.
Richard O'Sullivan would later find fame with sitcoms including Doctor at Large (1971) and Man About the House (1973-6). Larry Dann would later return to the Carry On series in the 1970s with roles in Carry On Behind, Carry On England and Carry On Emmannuelle. Diane Langton, who would later appear in Carry On England and the Carry On Laughing television series is one of the children in the crowd.
The women in the film continue to have strong roles, with Hattie Jacques as the strict, authoritarian maths teacher and Joan Sims as the PE teacher. Similarly, the government school inspector who terrifies the main cast is female. Charles Hawtrey, being a classical pianist, is a natural as the music teacher.
In many ways, this is the closest the Carry On series came to their rivals the St Trinian's films5 and had similar opening credits featuring cartoon drawings of pupils running amok. Carry On Teacher's itching powder gag would later be re-used in Carry On Girls.
Ted Ray was always the first choice for the role of Headmaster 'Wakey' Wakefield, although Rogers was unsure whether he would be available and had Eric Barker as his second choice. Ted Ray had worked regularly with Rosalind Knight and Kenneth Connor on his radio series Ray's A Laugh. Having secured Ted Ray in this role he hoped he would become a regular character in his series, however he was under contract with ABC6, who threatened to no longer release any Anglo Amalgamated films if Ted Ray appeared in any more Carry On films.
Ray did appear in Rogers and Thomas' next film, a comedy based on popular West End play Please Turn Over (1959). This was adapted by Norman Hudis and starred Carry On actors Leslie Phillips, Charles Hawtrey and Joan Sims. Rogers was determined to make more than just Carry On films, but none of his other films were ever as popular or successful as the Carry On series. As his other films of the period share the same producer, director, writer and cast members as the Carry On films,
4. Carry On Constable (1960)
|Plot||Flu has all-but incapacitated a police station! A group of incompetent raw recruits join the force, much to the annoyance of incompetent Inspector Mills, who blames Sergeant Wilkins for their incompetence and threatens to have him transferred. Due to the recruits' incompetence and over-enthusiasm, they have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems, generally showing that they couldn't even catch a cold let alone a crook. Yet at the end of the film by they show they have what it takes by capturing the gang of thieves. Sergeant Wilkins is proud to have known them and it is Mills and not Wilkins who is transferred.|
|Colour?||Black and White|
|Drag||Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Connor as Agnes and Ethel, disguises to capture shoplifter|
|Writer||Norman Hudis, based on an idea by Brock Williams|
|Nudity||Constable, Benson, Gorse and Potter's bottoms when they take a freezing-cold shower.|
Carry On Constable is in many ways a series of slapstick sketches with the bare minimum of a plot to hold the film together, and sadly the actresses are underused. The key role had been written for Ted Ray, however a new lead actor was needed to replace him. Rogers therefore cast Sid James, who worked well with Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams on Hancock's Half Hour and had appeared in some of Betty Box's films including Upstairs and Downstairs (1959) in which he had played a policeman.
Brock Williams was given a 'based on an idea by' credit as he had written a script outline involving policemen, but none of his work made it into the finished film. Similarly writer John Antrobus had been commissioned in 1958 to write Carry On Constable, his script later became 1965 film The Big Job. Instead inspiration came from the 1958 flu epidemic. Filming involved a generous 14 days' location filming around Ealing, with Hanwell Library7 on Cherrington Road used as the police station. Filming took place in November, scheduled so it would not interfere with the cast's panto work.
Following the film's release no Carry On would be made for over a year. One idea titled What a Carry On included a number of sketches but nothing linked the scenes together. There were also proposals titled Carry On Flying about raw recruits joining the RAF and Carry on Smoking about raw recruits joining the fire brigade. Rogers cancelled both, afraid there would be a plane crash or fire tragedy that would lead to the films being withdrawn. Instead Rogers' made other comedy films utilising the Carry On cast and crew. The first was naval comedy Watch Your Stern (1960) which included Hattie Jacques, Leslie Phillips, Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims and Sid James. This was followed by No Kidding (1960) about rich children, starring Leslie Phillips. Although the film failed, Rogers and Betty bought and moved to the house where filming took place as it was close to Pinewood.
5. Carry On Regardless (1961)
|Plot||A group of incompetent raw recruits join the Helping Hands employment agency, run by Bert Handy and assisted by Miss Cooling. Due to their incompetence and their enthusiasm not matching their experience or ability, they have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems. Yet at the end of the film they show they have what it takes to really make it and the landlord is so impressed with their work he chooses not to evict the agency from the premises.|
|Colour?||Black and White|
As the cast play agency staff hired to do 20 different jobs, the film is essentially a sketch show. Some scenes work better than others, but the one in which Kenneth Williams plays a translator is particularly fine acting. Hudis' scripts often had Williams as unsympathetic characters however Williams' performance is at his best when he is given more to do than either appear smugly superior or uncomfortable around women. The role of Montgomery Infield-Hopping was originally written for Leslie Phillips, only for him to reject appearing in another Carry On, fearing being typecast. The role was drastically reduced and recast with Terence Longdon. Similarly Delia King was intended to be played by Hattie Jacques who fell ill shortly before filming began. Her character's lines were given to Joan Sims and Liz Frazer. Hattie was allowed a small cameo as Sister while Joan Hickson played the Matron, reversing the characters they played in Carry On Nurse. For this, Jacques was paid £100. Patrick Cargill, who had written the play that Carry On Nurse was based on, also briefly cameos.
The chimp's address was the same house in Windsor that would later be used as Terry Scott's character's house in Carry On Up the Jungle while the Helping Hands agency building would be re-used as Dr Nookey's consulting rooms in Carry On Again Doctor. Sadly rain delayed the chimps' tea party by a day. One of the girls at the Ideal Home Exhibition watching Kenneth Williams' toy demonstrations was Sally Geeson, who would later star opposite Sid James in Bless This House as his daughter and would be in Carry On Abroad and Carry On Girls.
Following Carry On Regardless the crew made Raising the Wind, a film written by Bruce Montgomery, the composer for all the Carry On films made to date who also had written a series of detective novels. The 39th credited actor in the film, listed as 'Bass Trombone', was an actor called Jim Dale. He so impressed everyone, particularly Kenneth Williams, in this minor role that Peters decided to add him to his repertoire of actors and give him increasingly larger parts. Sadly after Raising the Wind, Montgomery's working relationship with Rogers ended. Rogers paid Montgomery to write a cello concerto but Montgomery never wrote it. Rogers discovered Montgomery had not written any music for some time, but hired Eric Rogers to write for him anonymously. Peter Rogers then hired Eric, replacing Montgomery.
Rogers assigned Hudis to develop the Ring For Catty script that had inspired Carry On Nurse, and this time base it in a tuberculosis sanatorium. Now titled Twice Round the Daffodils, it included Carry On regulars Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims. It also starred Juliet Mills and Lance Percival, who would each appear in one of the series. Rogers mistakenly believed that tuberculosis had been eliminated, however over 5,000 people had died of the disease in the UK in 1961 and as jokes about it did not go down well the film performed poorly.
6. Carry On Cruising (1962)
|Plot||A group of incompetent raw recruits join the crew of cruise ship SS Happy Wanderer, much to the annoyance of its captain. The passengers also include a couple of single ladies looking for a husband. Due to their incompetence and their enthusiasm not matching their experience or ability, the new crewmembers have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems, yet at the end of the film they show they have what it takes to really make it. The captain is so proud to have known them he chooses not to accept promotion to captain of a liner, but to carry on cruising instead.|
|Setting||On board cruise ship SS Happy Wanderer sailing from England to Spain, Italy and North Africa and back.|
|Writer||Norman Hudis, based on an idea by Eric Barker.|
This is the first Carry On in colour, and the last to be written by Norman Hudis, albeit based on a story proposed by Carry On Sergeant and Carry On Constable actor and novelist, Eric Baker. He had initially proposed a script about a European coach tour holiday, which evolved into set onboard a cruise ship. Joan Sims does not appear and was officially 'ill'8 and was replaced by Dilys Laye who had appeared in several of Betty Box's films, as well as Please Turn Over. As Hattie Jacques was still recovering from her illness she did not appear either.
After reading a review of Carry on Regardless which said he was the star of the series, Charles Hawtrey gave an ultimatum. He demanded top billing and a star for his dressing room or would not appear; Lance Percival immediately replaced him in the role of Chef Wilfred Haines. Director Gerald Thomas said,
It was a difficult decision, but with the best will in the world we could not bill him above Sid James, for example.
This was the only 1958-1972 Carry On in which Charles Hawtrey did not appear. Kenneth Williams also asked for a pay increase but was promised that though the salary would stay the same, he would get a Mediterranean cruise for free as part of filming overseas. Despite this promise, all the shots were filmed on a set in Pinewood Studios. Plans to film in Gibraltar had been considered however Rogers, with his phobia of overseas travel, preferred to stay closer to home. P&O were thanked in the credits for supplying stock footage, including that of the SS Oronsay which doubled for fictional ship SS Happy Wanderer.
The next film by Rogers and Thomas was The Iron Maiden (1962), written by Oscar-winning lyricist Leslie Bricusse and Vivian Cox about a jet aircraft designer with a fondness for traction engines. Jim Dale continued to impress in his minor role. This was followed by Nurse on Wheels based on novel Nurse is a Neighbour, starring Juliet Mills with Esma Cannon, Norman Rossington, Joan Sims and Jim Dale. The script had been written with Sims in mind for the lead role, but as Sims had put on weight she was replaced by Juliet Mills and recast as the vicar's daughter. This was the first Peter Rogers' film officially composed by Eric Rogers and the last written by Norman Hudis, who had written all the Carry On scripts to date.
Hudis was asked for a spy spoof following Dr No (1962), but Rogers was disappointed with the result and rejected the script. Hudis then moved to America where he enjoyed success writing scripts for The Man from UNCLE and The Wild, Wild West among others. They continued to stay in touch9.
7. Carry On Cabby (1963)
|Plot||Charlie Hawkins is a workaholic cab company owner, who is so obsessed with his job he misses his wedding anniversary. His wife, feeling neglected, decides to secretly set-up her own rival company, Glamcabs, using stunning new cars and employing only beautiful women in air stewardess-esque outfits. Who will win the battle of the sexes?|
|Colour?||Black and White|
|Setting||Early 1960s Windsor|
|Drag||Kenneth Connor (Ted) disguises himself as a Glamcab woman driver|
Shortly after Hudis resigned as Rogers' scriptwriter, Rogers received a comedy script by Talbot Rothwell who knew that Rogers produced various comedies as well as Carry On films. Rothwell had been in the RAF during the war and, after being shot down, was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III Prisoner of War Camp alongside Peter Butterworth, with whom he worked on the 'wooden horse' escape plan11. Impressed by the script which became Carry on Jack, Talbot was challenged to quickly adapt an idea by Morecombe & Wise's scriptwriters Sid Green and Dick Hills about a feuding married couple. Talbot wrote the script, originally titled Call Me a Cab, in two weeks.
Anglo Amalgamated decided the film should become part of the Carry On series partway through production. The end sequence was co-written by Sid Colin, based on an unsold script he had written called The Streets of Town.
Sid James and Bill Owen had starred in television series Taxi! (1963-4) as a cab firm owner and a driver. This was the fourth and final of both Bill Owen and Esma Cannon's Carry On appearances, but the first by Jim Dale and Peter Gilmore. Kenneth Williams had been offered the small role of Allbright but passed. Charles Hawtrey agreed to appear when he was reassured that he would always be billed in the top three of any Peter Rogers film in which he appeared12. Neither Charles Hawtrey nor Amanda Barrie could drive when the film entered production, so Hawtrey was given a quick driving course, having three hour-long lessons a day for three weeks, passing his test just before filming began, while Barrie's scenes behind the wheel were filmed by towing her taxi.
All the Glamcabs were Cortinas donated by the Ford Motor Company, who were promoting their new car. The taxis were hired from the London General Cab Company for £5 per day and the drivers were paid 7/6d per hour each to drive their taxis. The film also contains location footage shot around the streets of Windsor.
8. Carry On Jack (1963)
|Plot||After the death of Nelson the Royal Navy desperately needs more men, even incompetent Albert Poop-Decker who despite being at the academy for over 8 years and still hasn't passed, is promoted to midshipman and sent to sea. In Plymouth his clothes and identity are stolen by Sally, a serving maid, and he is press-ganged onto HMS Venus as a common sailor. However Captain Fearless is obeying his doctor's orders to avoid excitement rather than admiralty orders to seek out the enemy. This causes the first officer and bosun to plot to get rid of Captain Fearless as well as Poop-Decker and Sally.|
|Setting||1805, following the Battle of Trafalgar, on the high seas between England and Spain|
Originally intended to be a standalone comedy entitled Up the Armada, however when the British Board of Film Censors refused to allow the title, the name was changed to make it a Carry On film. This is why there are only three main Carry On stars (Williams, Hawtrey and a brief Jim Dale), one supporting Carry On actor (Gilmore as the villain in his second Carry On) and Bernard Cribbins' first appearance in the series, with the film missing the usual banter from the regular actresses.
Kenneth Connor had been offered the role of Poop-Decker but was busy working with Frankie Howerd in the West End production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Liz Fraser had been offered the role of Sally but declined feeling typecast and wanting to pursue more serious roles. She had also been heard criticising the Carry On films' distribution and presentation, upsetting Anglo Amalgamated's boss, Stuart Levy. She was therefore replaced by Juliet Mills in her only Carry On, though she had appeared in other Peter Rogers' films Twice Round the Daffodils and Nurse on Wheels.
The film was written as a spoof of the then current trend for naval films such as Mutiny on the Bounty, HMS Defiant13 and Billy Budd (all 1962), with the opening shot a recreation of the famous painting 'The Death of Nelson, 21 October 1805' by Arthur William Devis. The production hired the HMS Defiant set and relevant props from HMS Defiant for £700. The ship set was constructed at the top of a hill at Pinewood Studios to allow filming in all directions free from obstructions in the distance. Bernard Cribbins and Jim Dale would return to Frensham Pond, where this was filmed, for Carry On Columbus 30 years later.
Albert Poop-Decker, Sally, Walter and Captain Fearless could still be considered incompetent raw recruits who have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems, yet at the end of the film have shown what it takes to really make it, with the First Sea Lord promising promotions for all.
9. Carry On Spying (1964)
|Plot||The only known copy of a top-secret formula has been stolen! Only a group of incompetent raw recruits for BOSH – the British Operational Security Headquarters - can be sent as backup to aid suave Agent Carstairs intercept the plans before they are given to evil Dr Crow, head of STENCH – the Society for the Total Extinction of Non-Conforming Humans. Due to their incompetence and their enthusiasm not matching their experience or ability, the new spies keep inadvertently incapacitating Carstairs. Will the world be safe?|
|Colour?||Black and White|
|Setting||England, Vienna, Algeria14 and the Orient Express|
|Writer||Talbot Rothwell and Sid Colin|
Having rejected original Carry On writer Norman Hudis' comic spy script16, Peter Rogers asked Talbot Rothwell if he could come up with a spy-based comedy inspired by the highly successful James Bond series. Like the Carry On films, these were also filmed at Pinewood Studios. Talbot, co-writing with Sid Colin, had plenty of inspiration from films such as The Third Man, Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, ensuring that this, the last Carry On film in black and white, owes a lot to film noir. However Bond producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman threatened to sue; Charles Hawtrey's character had been intended to be called James Bind but this had to be changed to Charlie Bind, while his number was changed from double-0 6½ to double-oh ooh, with the 'oh-oh oooh' delivered in the way only Charles Hawtrey can.
This was the first film in the series to star Barbara Windsor. Peter Rogers was still trying to find a replacement to replace Liz Frazer and had felt that Juliet Mills, though fine in a straight role, lacked the comedy strength required for Carry On. Windsor was chosen as she had worked well with Bernard Cribbins in Crooks in Cloisters (1964), however Carry On Spying would prove to be Bernard Cribbins' final appearance until Carry On Columbus in 1992. During filming a plastic bullet hit Bernard Cribbins in the neck. Cribbins was very vocally critical of this, leading Rogers to decide not to hire him again. Bernard Cribbins would later appear in Bond-curiosity Casino Royale (1967).
Charles Hawtrey's alcoholism also began to affect his performance; he passed out when filming the automated machine sequence in which he is dangling from a girder. This sequence is sadly the film's weakest point as, in order to escape from being dunked in acid, the machine is switched into reverse. The previous two minutes of the cast making their way through the macine, falling down, being pummelled by dirty rocks and getting soaked in a car wash is then shown in reverse, so they go through the car wash backwards, starting off wet and ending up dry, get undirtied by ascending rocks and then falling upwards.
Overall the film looks fantastic, with the opening sequence straight out of a James Bond film – in fact, an assassin disguised as a milkman breaking into a top secret laboratory with explosive milk bottles would be used in The Living Daylights (1987) over 20 years later17. Eric Pohlmann had appeared in The Third Man and had been the voice of Blofeld in From Russia With Love (1963), a film which inspired the train-set sequence. The villain's underground lair complete with miniature railway looks genuinely like a James Bond set.
10. Carry On Cleo (1964)
|Plot||After conquering prehistoric Roman Britain and returning to Rome with British slaves, Cæsar and his friend Tony travel to Egypt where they meet and are enchanted by the lovely queen, Cleopatra. Will Cleo succeed in seducing Tony and get him to plot against his friend, Julie? Will the slaves escape to freedom?|
|Setting||Prehistoric Britain, Ancient Rome and Egypt|
|Drag||Hengist and Horsa disguise themselves as Vestal Virgins|
|Writer||Talbot Rothwell, except one line|
Carry On Cleo is one of the highlights of the series and made to take advantage of the filming of 20th Century Fox's epic Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor. Partway through production of Cleopatra Taylor had nearly fatal pneumonia complete with an emergency tracheotomy and was advised that she needed to be somewhere warm in order to aid her recovery. 20th Century Fox abandoned the sets they had built in Pinewood and made new sets when filming commenced in Rome18. As these sets were lying unused, the Carry On team quickly wrote a Roman-themed spoof and began filming on them. At the same time, Victor Maddern had appeared in a 1964 London production of play Caligula; when it ended he bought the Roman interior props and sets for £150 and hired them to Peter Rogers for £800. Together this ensured that Carry On Cleo had a sumptuous appearance.
The script is the perfect epitome of Carry On humour at its best, and in 2007 a line in the film was voted the best film one-liner of all time. This particular line was first used in radio comedy Take It From Here by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, but fits seamlessly into the story.
The film is not entirely historically accurate. Julius Cæsar was not a Roman Emperor but was actually dictator for life, and at the time the Britons were not cavemen eating brontosaurus, but had their own highly-developed culture. The 1973 Carry On Christmas would feature a prehistoric scene with similar themes.
This film marks the return of Joan Sims to the Carry On fold and the debut of Jon Pertwee, later to find fame in Doctor Who. It was the last for five years for Kenneth Connor and the last appearance by Amanda Barrie, and is also curiously the only Carry On to feature Isle of Wight actress Sheila Hancock or The Avengers and Play School actress/presenter Julie Stevens.
Curiously the titular character, Cleopatra, is played by seventh billed Amanda Barrie. Legal action threatened; store chain Marks & Spencer were not impressed with the joke about slave traders Markus and Spencius, and demanded that an official apology be published in the national press. This was duly written.
Following Carry On Cleo the team decided to make a comedy about a bank robbery, entitled The Big Job. This starred Sid James, with Joan Sims, Jim Dale and Lance Percival and had been based on John Antrobus' proposal for Carry On Constable.
Summary So Far
By the end of the first ten films, the following actors had appeared in at least two Carry On films:
|Amanda Barrie||2||Cabby, Cleo|
|Bernard Cribbins OBE||2||Jack, Spying|
|Bill Owen MBE||4||Sergeant, Nurse, Regardless, Cabby|
|Brian Oulton||3||Nurse, Constable, Cleo|
|Charles Hawtrey||9||Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cabby, Jack, Spying, Cleo|
|Cyril Chamberlain||7||Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Cabby|
|Dilys Laye||2||Cruising, Spying|
|Eric Barker||3||Sergeant, Constable, Spying|
|Esma Cannon||4||Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Cabby|
|Hattie Jacques||6||Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cabby|
|Jim Dale MBE||4||Cabby, Jack, Spying, Cleo|
|Jimmy Thompson||2||Cruising, Jack|
|Joan Hickson OBE||3||Nurse, Constable, Regardless|
|Joan Sims||5||Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cleo|
|Kenneth Connor MBE||8||Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Cabby, Cleo,|
|Kenneth Williams||9||Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Jack, Spying, Cleo|
|Leslie Phillips||3||Nurse, Teacher, Constable|
|Liz Fraser||3||Regardless, Cruising, Cabby|
|Norman Rossington||3||Sergeant, Nurse, Regardless|
|Peter Gilmore||3||Cabby, Jack, Cleo|
|Rosalind Knight||2||Nurse, Teacher|
|Shirley Eaton||3||Sergeant, Nurse, Constable|
|Sid James||5||Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Cabby, Cleo|
|Terence Longdon||4||Sergeant, Nurse, Constable, Regardless|
|Victor Maddern||4||Constable, Regardless, Spying, Cleo|