What a Carry On! The Best and Worst of the Movies
Carry On Girls (1973)
Starting to show the series’ age by its reliance on semi-nudity and the lack of regulars including Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey, this tale of shenanigans at a downmarket beauty contest in the seaside town of Fircombe does have a few moments, including the brilliant June Whitfield as formidable feminist Augusta Prodworthy. But no movie featuring busty beauties Margaret Nolan, Valerie Leon, Wendy Richard and Mary Millington can be all bad.
Best gag: Connie Philpotts: “Well, I expect you to get them into bed at a reasonable hour”. Sid Fiddler: “I promise you, I’ll do my very best!”
Carry On England (1976)
This rarely seen outing set in a mixed barracks of a WW2 anti-aircraft battery featured only a smattering of the Carry On regulars, including Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims and Jack Douglas, and featuring Windsor Davies and Melvyn Hayes playing almost copies of their roles from sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, it comes across as a sort of pornographic Dad’s Army.
Best gag: Sgt. Maj. Bloomer: “Aircraft recognition. These is your new pin-ups. I bet none of you can tell the difference between a couple of Heinkels and a pair of Bristols.” Sgt. Len Able: “No, but I can recognise a Fokker when I see one.”
Carry On Emmannuelle (1978)
The 30th in the series was an ill-judged attempt to send up the soft porn of the Emmanuelle films, with series regulars Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims looking and sounding fed up with the whole business. The plot, involving Suzanne Danielle as a VIP’s wife desperate to get his attention through seducing a string of men, is best forgotten.
Best gag: Emile Prevert (Kenneth Williams): “Why me? You could have Tom, Dick or Harry.” Emmannuelle Prevert (Suzanne Danielle): “I don’t want Tom or Harry!”
Carry On Columbus (1992)
A valiant attempt to revive the franchise made 14 years after Emmannuelle, released to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the Americas, this dismal effort featured some originals, including Jim Dale, Jack Douglas, June Whitfield, Jon Pertwee and Bernard Cribbins, but also some contemporary comedians including Alexei Sayle, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Julian Clary. But the script was a clunker, and it made for an unmemorable epitaph to the series.
Best gag – from a short list: Nina the Model (Sara Stockbridge): “Well I’m off to Italy next week. Michelangelo wants to do me up on the ceiling.” Christopher Columbus (Jim Dale): “Well you mind you hang onto something while you’re up there!”
As critically panned as the film was, and as embarrassed as most of the cast were by the finished result, it somehow made more money at the UK box office than either of the dramatic Columbus films from 1992, 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992).
What a Carry On!