Friday, 30 October 2015

June Whitfield at 90: Evelyn Blunt in Carry On Abroad

I have been profiling some of June Whitfield's most legendary roles on screen in the run up to her 90th birthday on 11 November. I have chosen eight of her most well-known performances, which you can vote for in my special poll - details on that below. As we prepare to celebrate the milestone birthday of this national treasure, let's continue to look back at her career.

After 13 years away from the Carry Ons after her cameo role as Leslie Phillips' girlfriend in Nurse, June Whitfield was back at Pinewood in the Spring of 1972 for a corker of a role. As Evelyn Blunt, June was one of the unfortunate holidaymakers to travel on the Wundatours package holiday to the Spanish island of Elsbels. Needless to say, nothing went to plan. The fellow holidaymakers were awful, the island was dreary and the hotel wasn't even finished. Chaos frequently ensues in what must be one of the last great Carry Ons to be made. 

June joined a prime cast of regular Carry On actors - nearly all of the best known performers are present, including Sid James, Joan SIms, Peter Butterworth, Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Connor. Connor plays Evelyn's cuckolded husband Stanley and all is not well between them. Evelyn is buttoned up, awkward and difficult throughout while Stanley is put upon and quite obviously sexually frustrated! 

Before too long Evelyn attracts the attentions of the hotel's barman Georgio (Ray Brooks) who seduces her with dancing and champagne. Stanley meanwhile has caught the eye of bored Cora Flange (Joan Sims). Although nothing happens between them, there is quite clearly a spark. In the end, both the Flanges and the Blunts reunite and put the oomph back in the marriages, mainly thanks to a few glugs of Santa Cecilia's Elixir purchased at Elsbels Market!

I love June's performance in Carry On Abroad. There is a real sense of middle-aged, middle class frustration in her portrayal of Evelyn Blunt and while it's definitely a comic performance, there is real substance to it too. Fortunately the character is redeemed towards the end of the film, with favourite moments including June and Kenneth crashing through the floor on their bed and dancing wildly at the farewell party in the hotel. 

June also features in one of my all-time favourite Carry On gags. Yes, you guessed it, the "Your only child I presume!" sequence. It never fails to make me laugh. The reactions from June and Kenneth Connor are just superb! 

So there you have it, a classic performance from June in one of the classic entries in the Carry On series. What more could you ask for?

If Evelyn Blunt is your favourite of June's roles over the years, you can vote for it here 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan

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