Thursday, 1 October 2015

My Top Ten Carry On Films: Number 2!

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!  

Coming in at Number 2 on my list is Carry On Screaming! 

I had to think long and hard about this one. It very nearly came out on top but here it is at number 2. Carry On Screaming is one of the most perfect films in the series. It lampoons the equally successful, made on a budget Hammer Horror films beautifully. It boasts a stunning cast of comic actors all on top form and it is hilarious from beginning to end. As a child I even remember being a little bit scared of the monsters Oddbod and Oddbod Junior (yes really).

The film focuses on the monstrous brother and sister Orlando and Valeria Watt who have set up in business kidnapping young ladies, vitrifying them into mannequins and selling them on to local shops for their window displays! The local law enforcement officers attempt to find those behind the disappearance of several young woman, with hilarious consequences.

Whenever Carry On Screaming is mentioned, whether you are a fan of the series or a casual observer, Fenella Fielding immediately comes to mind. Without a doubt she is the star of the film. The role of Valeria Watt made her career but at the same time is a role she's never been able to escape from since! Fortunately Fenella is very gracious about her role in the Carry Ons and seems very proud of her contribution. With her long black hair, deathly pale complexion, long red velvet dress and plunging cleavage, it is a smouldering performance which demonstrates real sex appeal coupled with terrific comic timing. 

Fenella forms a brilliant, bickering double act with Kenneth Williams who plays her on screen brother. The pair had worked together in the stage review Pieces of Eight and although their relationship could be spiky and troubled they had terrific chemistry. Kenneth Williams is at his over the top best in this role, his constant need for a recharge and his twitching banter when questioned by the police are both sublime.

Fenella's other main scenes are with Screaming's guest star, Harry H Corbett. Corbett was of course most famous for his role in Steptoe and Son (if you listen carefully there are snatches of the Steptoe theme tune in Eric Rogers' wonderful music). In a role originally meant for Sid James, Corbett equips himself very well. He is so good in fact that I can't now imagine Sid playing the part of Sidney Bung. He works really well with Fenella, indeed their scenes together have gone down in Carry On history. He also benefits from some lovely domestic scenes with Joan Sims, who pops up as Bung's nagging wife Emily. It is a shrieking but beautifully judged performance from Sims and the continuation of her shift towards playing nagging middle aged wives in the series. 

Bung's second in command is brought to glorious life by the ever reliable Peter Butterworth. Butterworth is given an excellent role here with proper screen time too. Forever mugging in the background, his facial expressions and comic timing are second to none. His scenes towards the end of the picture when he drags up to catch the monster are superb!

Jim Dale once again plays the handsome hero who teams up with the incompetent detectives to hunt down the monster after his girlfriend Doris (Angela Douglas) is kidnapped in the woods. "How far did you go?" asks Bung "Oh not very far cos I've only known her a year!" Yes. After an energetic performance in Cowboy, Douglas is sadly limited to a few scenes at the beginning and end of the film, but she does scream with incredible conviction! There definitely was something in those bushes!

Bernard Bresslaw adds some quiet, foreboding menace to the film in a towering supporting role as Sockett, a Lurch like butler who works for Williams and Fielding. The appearance of Fielding has a surprising effect on his slippers from what I can remember! Charles Hawtrey also pops in for a brief but highly effective cameo as Dan Dan the Lavatory Man! Hawtrey is on sparkling form as the Cloakroom Attendant who assists Corbett, Butterworth and Dale with their enquiries. Sadly Hawtrey's appearance is limited to just one seen as Dan meets a rather grizzly end...

I cannot continue without mentioning the best scene in the entire picture. When Corbett arrives for his initial interrogation of Valeria, she attempts to seduce him in typically outlandish, husky-voiced style. The innuendos come thick and fast and it all culminates in that glorious moment that has entered into British film history. Altogether now: "Do you mind if I smoke?..." Inspired stuff! It is the kind of line only the Carry Ons would dare deliver but it is  just incredible!

Eric Rogers' musical score is wonderful throughout, the eerie setting is captured perfectly and the sets are typically gothic. It is a beautiful homage to the classic Hammer Horror film and cannot be faulted. It remains fresh with each and every viewing and always makes me laugh. It is a true classic of British film and features some of our very best and most cherished comedy actors. 

It will always be right up there with my very favourite Carry On films.

Frying Tonight!

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