Today I'm going to jump forward to the mid-1970s and to what I consider to be the last decent Carry On film ever made: Carry On Behind.
Much of Behind is fairly basic knock-about farce and an update on the format of Carry On Camping which had been a huge success several years early. Amidst all the obvious situations and near the knuckle treatment of sex and nudity there lies a little scene that elevates the whole film, providing a touching moment of warmth and and "real" acting. It of course features two of the best actors to ever grace a Carry On, Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth.
Sadly, by this stage of the game, both Joan and Peter were finding themselves relegated to fairly minor supporting turns as the Carry Ons looked to the Confessions films for inspiration on what the British public wanted from a saucy comedy. Both actors certainly begin to look out of place in the film series at this stage although they salvage their reputations in the scene they share towards the end of Behind.
Joan, as harridan Daphne Barnes, finds herself reunited with her long lost husband Henry, played by Peter Butterworth. Henry has become a rather grubby odd-job man, working at the campsite Daphne comes to stay at with her daughter and son in law (Patsy Rowlands and Bernard Bresslaw). It is still ludicrous today to picture Joan as Patsy's mother, given the very small difference in their ages! Anyway, we'll gloss over that and move on to the scene itself.
While the rest of the campsite endure a rather dreadful evening at the opening of the new club house, Daphne and Henry reminisce over all times. As the rain pours down outside, they share some gentle comedy, with talk of her steak and kidney pudding as they play cards. Henry reveals that he had a big win on the pools and that he desperately wants Daphne back. It's fairly small, inconsequential scene but both actors tug at the heartstrings and the scene has such quality in the performances given by Joan and Peter that it really deserves to be in a better film.
It reminds me very much of the scene Joan shared with Sid James at the end of the Brighton trip in Convenience. Both were beautifully played and nowadays I can't help but feel ever so slightly teary watching these comedy greats give their all now they are sadly all gone.
So next time you see Carry On Behind in the schedules, look out for this wonderful little scene starring two of my greatest comedy heroes.
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