Thursday, 24 September 2015

My Top Ten Carry On Films: Number 8!

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! 

In at number 8 in my all time favourites is Carry On Doctor

Carry On Doctor is a superb example of all things Carry On. It caught most of the team at their comedic peak and indeed most of what we now consider to be regular team members feature here. Only Kenneth Connor is missing from the line up. In addition to a pretty full roster of comedy greats we have a splendid star turn from Frankie Howerd. I have long been a big fan of Frankie's comedy performances, I adore him. In Carry On Doctor Frankie plays bogus faith healer Francis Biggar. In actual fact Frankie really just plays Frankie but the film benefits from every second he appears on screen.

Frankie is paired throughout the picture with my own favourite actress, the gorgeous Joan Sims. Joan plays hard of hearing Chloe Gibson, assistant and eventual wife of Francis Biggar. it is a wonderfully played if brief supporting role yet again showing Joan's versatility. 

The central plot of Carry On Doctor involves Kenneth Williams conniving surgeon Dr Tinkle and his willing accomplice Matron (Lavinia) Hattie Jacques. When JIm Dale's Dr Kilmore catches Barbara Windsor's Nurse May in Dr Tinkle's room scandal is avoided by dispatching   Kilmore. However the unhappy patients (namely Sid James, Bernard Bresslaw and Peter Butterworth) stage a revolt against authority and thankfully the popular Dr Kilmore is reinstated.

Apart from Frankie's central performance there are many other things to praise Carry On Doctor for. The other male patients in the ward are beautifully played by Sid James (recovering from a heart attack in real life), Bernard Bresslaw (who's character Ken Biddle indulges in a shy romance with Mavis Winkle, played by the lovely Dilys Laye) and Peter Butterworth who makes the most of a small supporting role as Mr Smith. Charles Hawtrey, again playing away from the main group plays a husband experiencing a phantom
pregnancy (!)

Barbara Windsor makes a short but sweet appearance as the aforementioned Nurse May. While it is Barbara most people remember in the nurses uniform I really love Anita Harris as Nurse Clark. Returning to the Carry Ons after her role in Follow That Camel Anita plays the romantic lead to Jim Dale's Dr Kilmore to perfection. Their perilous scene on the hospital roof is excellent. I wish Anita had made further appearances in the Carry Ons as she was perfectly cast. 

Jim Dale is also a standout performer in Doctor. He is really at the peak of his powers in this film. He plays the bumbling yet still dashing romantic lead ever so well and exploits every opportunity for gymnastic physical comedy with aplomb. In many ways, despite Frankie Howerd's brilliant guest starring role, Carry On Doctor belongs to the multi-talented Jim Dale.  

Doctor also boasts a superb supporting cast including the terrific Dandy Nichols as Sid's nagging wife, Pat Coombs as an unsuspecting female patient, Peter Jones as the hard of hearing vicar who conducts Frankie and Joan's nuptials and Peter Gilmore and Harry Locke as a bright and cheerful pair of ambulance drivers. 

In a superb tribute to Carry On Nurse, there is a wonderful scene involving Frankie Howerd, Valerie Van Ost's nurse and a daffodil. As Frankie's character says "I saw that film!" A brilliant self-referential moment! Doctor is in many ways writer Talbot Rothwell's tribute to Norman Hudis' original classic medical Carry On, and it doesn't fall short. There is a further in-house tribute I love in the impressive shape of a portrait of actor James Robertson Justice in the hospital foyer. Robertson Justice is of course famous for playing bombastic surgeon Lancelot Spratt in the Doctor series of films produced by Betty Box, wife of a certain Peter Rogers. 

So that's what I love about Carry On Doctor. Anything I don't like? Hmmm not much to be honest. I wish Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth had enjoyed bigger roles in the film however as the cast list was chock full of classic Carry On cast members it would be hard to give them all equal billing. It's also a shame that Sid's role in the film is reduced however given his health issues it was obviously unavoidable. 

Does Carry On Doctor deserve a place in the top ten best Carry On films ever? I certainly think so and I hope you agree.

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, on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook

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