Sunday 20 September 2015

My Favourite Scene: Carry On Follow That Camel

I have been running a series of blogs which aim to find my favourite scenes in each of the original thirty Carry On films. Today I am going to write about the Foreign Legion comedy from 1967, Carry On Follow That Camel.

Follow That Camel is an odd one. It's never been one of my favourites although it still has a lot going for it. I adore Angela Douglas in full English rose mode as Lady Jane Ponsonby. Peter Butterworth and Jim Dale make a great double act - a good amount of screen time for Peter and Jim is at his dynamic, physical best throughout. Bernard Bresslaw turns in a terrific performance as the villain of the piece while Anita Harris dazzles as the belly dancing Cork Tip. 

Unfortunately though, guest starring Phil Silvers just doesn't fit in. Whatever the reason for his appearance in this film (probably Rank trying to sell the film to the Americans) his style just jars with the rest of this very British film. I love Silvers' classic role as Sergeant Bilko on American television but somehow it doesn't translate to the world of Pinewood Studios and Camber Sands.

My favourite scene was difficult to choose as nothing really stood out when I thought about it. However I decided it simply must feature one of the true stars of the film - Joan Sims. Joan has a relatively minor supporting turn in Camel, restricted to a few scenes and never really becoming involved in the main action. Sims plays ZIg Zig, the local cafe owner who is having an affair with Phil's Sergeant Nocker. It is a stunning character performance from Sims, once again showing her amazing versatility. It's a wonderfully earthy, sexy role for an actress who had most recently played the nagging Emily Bung in Screaming and the screechy cockney-voiced Madame Desiree in Don't Lose Your Head. 

I love her last scene in Camel. ZIg Zig is being questioned by Kenneth Williams' character about Nocker's whereabouts. She gives him the runaround throughout, spitting and throwing away classic lines and earthy looks. As she gets up to leave she makes Williams' an indecent proposal and one he looks like he wants to follow up on! It's true skill for an actress like Sims to make so much out of such a small part. It leaves you wanting more and I wish she'd had a bigger part in the film.

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