Tuesday 7 April 2015

My Top Ten Carry On Films: Number 10!

I'm going to attempt to figure out what my absolute favourite Carry On films of all time are and I will be publishing the results on this blog. This is going to be a hard task for me as I love so many of these films that my favourites change on a regular basis. There will be a few I can immediately discount, none of which will be much of a surprise I'm sure. Others will be more difficult to choose between.

What I intend to do is come up with my top ten Carry Ons and reveal them blog by blog until I get to my all time number one. I'll make it clear that this is just down to my own personal choice and mainly due to personal feelings or memories attached to particular films. It should be an interesting project and I hope that as I go through them you will all feel free to comment and agree/disagree as you see fit! 

Bringing up the rear, as it were, is Carry On Behind.    

This may be a controversial choice for some. Behind appeared on screen at a time when the Carry On films were headed on a downward slide at the box office. The cast was also beginning to fragment. It perhaps wasn't known at the time but the previous film saw the final Carry On film appearances for Sidney James, Hattie Jacques and Barbara Windsor (although she would return for the compilation That's Carry On in 1977). Despite all this, I have a real soft spot for Carry On Behind. It is, in my opinion, far superior to the previous films Girls and Dick and also much better than the ones that followed, England and Emmannuelle.

Basically, Carry On Behind is an updated version of the classic Carry On Camping. This time around we get a saucy seventies gathering of various outlandish characters who all travel to an English campsite for the usual fun, misunderstandings and bawdy frolics.

At the centre of Behind is an all guns blazing performance from Carry On stalwart Kenneth Williams. He goes for broke, taking on starring status from the absent Sid James. He runs the full gamut of cliches and facial expressions and forms a delicious double act with international guest star Elke Sommer. Goodness knows what Elke Sommer made of her Carry On experience, spending six weeks in the freezing cold Pinewood orchard, surrounded by famous British actors she'd probably never come across before. Sommer is good value, entering into things with plenty of zing.

I also enjoyed the double act of Carol Hawkins (returning for her second Carry On) and newcomer Sherrie Hewson. They work well together as a couple of young girls out for a good time. 

Windsor Davies makes a good impression, taking on what is very obviously meant to be the role created for Sid. Windsor is great value and almost makes me appreciate Jack Douglas. I say almost. Kenneth Connor is also on barnstorming form as the randy old Major who runs the campsite. He tries it on with everyone from Carol Hawkins to Joan Sims and gets nowhere.

My favourite scenes in Behind involve two of my very favourite actors, Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth, playing an estranged middle aged couple reunited unexpectedly. Amidst the bawdy, basic characterisations that Behind offers, the scenes between Sims and Butterworth tug at the heartstrings and are beautifully played. They are on a par with the touching scenes Joan shared with Sid James in At Your Convenience and yet again prove what outstanding actors they all were.

So that's what I love about Behind. Any downsides? The film boasts an excellent supporting cast and sadly, many of them don't get a real opportunity to shine. Bernard Bresslaw and Patsy Rowlands appear as husband and wife in their last Carry On film and are brilliant together but lack screen time. Newcomer Ian Lavender, fresh from Dad's Army, shows promise but is given little to do. I also don't understand why Liz Fraser was brought back after twelve years for what turned out to be a throw away supporting role. Bringing such a wonderful class act back into the fold should have heralded a bells and whistles part, not that of a nagging wife restricted to a few scenes bookending the film.

On a purely personal note, Behind also feels like it is tipping further into the Confessions films arena. There is a noticeable step up on the nudity front, as usual all by women of course, apart from a completely unnecessary flash of Kenneth Williams' bum (!) For me, the Carry On films didn't need to go down the nudity route, although at the time given what was happening in British film you can understand why the powers that be decided to go along with it. 

These minor quibbles aside, I still love watching Carry On Behind as the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. 

So what do you think, does Carry On Behind deserve a spot in the top ten? I think it does.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next of my top ten all time favourite Carry On films. In the meantime, please do comment here on the blog and on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook

1 comment:

  1. I certainly agree that, Behind is definitely superior to England and Emmanuelle.