I decided late last year to treat myself to a few guilty pleasures. There are several films associated with the Carry Ons that I have never seen so I've decided to put that right. I have purchased copies of Doctor In Love, Please Turn Over, Not Now, Comrade and the vintage television sitcom Our House. As I'm a first time viewer of all of these classics, I am going to review each title for the blog. Today I'm Not Now, Comrade.
Oh dear, what can I say? Not Now, Comrade is a film version of a Ray Cooney farce. Cooney is well known as a stage farceur having written many plays over the years which seem to be performed again and again. His hits include Not Now, Darling, One for the Pot, Caught in the Net and Run for Your Wife. Over the years many familiar comedy actors have trod the boards in a variety of Ray Cooney farces and although the medium isn't my favourite, you can't help but admire his success.
Comrade was meant to help establish a regular series of films. Three years before Not Now, Darling had been a success in cinemas, starring the likes of Leslie Phillips, Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor. Sadly Comrade wasn't nearly as successful and the series wasn't forthcoming. Having viewed the film for the first time now, I can see why. Although the film stars a wide variety of experienced performers and they all seem very game, the whole thing really fails to come off. Many comedy films made in Britain at this time were quickly and economically made however some managed to get away with it. Not Now, Comrade doesn't.
The plot of the film sees a Russian ballet dancer attempt to defect to the west with the help of a stripper, Barbara Wilcox. Unfortunately the dancer, Rudi, ends up in the boot of the wrong car and back at the house owned by Commander Rimmington. Much farce ensues, with people rushing about, doors banging, and many heavy-handed misunderstandings. The performances are mainly spirited which keeps it going for a time but it soon runs out of steam.
Carrying most of the film are the younger members of the cast, namely Carol Hawkins, Ian Lavender and Michele Dotrice. Carol, familiar to Carry On fans for her appearances in Abroad, Behind and Carry On Laughing, worked many times with Ray Cooney over the years and probably has the biggest role in the film. I like Carol and she does well with the part. Apparently this was the role she took on after turning down Carry On England due to the nudity involved. This didn't stop Carol dancing around in not very much at all outside the Royal Albert Hall at the beginning of Not, Now Comrade!
Leslie Phillips is the headlining star as Commander Rimmington, although he regularly dips in and out of the action. Dotrice plays his daughter Nancy and Lavender her boyfriend. Also along for the ride is the wonderful actor Roy Kinnear who does his best with the role of Hoskins, Rimmington's gardener. The Australian actor Lewis Fiander plays the Russian ballet dancer. Ray Cooney also makes an appearance as a rather sober man, Mr Laver, although he doesn't stay sober for long.
The film also includes cameos from Windsor Davies as the local policeman and his It Ain't Half Hot Mum co-star Don Estelle as Hargreaves. Although June Whitfield is given star billing she only pops up very briefly at the end of the film, playing Phillips' wife.
Not the finest British film ever made but full marks to the cast involved for making the most out of it! Check it out if it's your thing but I'm not sure it would stand up to repeat viewings.
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