This blog is part of a new regular series on Carry On Blogging. I'm going to attempt to blog about each of Joan Sims' wonderful roles in the Carry On films. Joan was the most prolific of all the actresses involved in the series, clocking up 24 films. Indeed, only Kenneth Williams made more Carry Ons.
Today I am going to write about Joan's role in another landmark Carry On film. In 1971 it was back to the present day for the first film which proved less than popular at the box office. The industrial strife, unrest and send up of the trade unions did not go down at all well with the core working class Carry On audience. Despite all this, I think Carry On At Your Convenience is a superb entry in the series, full of fruity innuendos, great set pieces, classic performances and a glorious trip to Brighton to boot!
Joan plays Chloe Moore, a worker at W.C Boggs' toilet factory. She is Sid Plummer's next door neighbour and married to salesman Fred (Bill Maynard). This is business as usual for Joan as she spends the film being chased around and leered at by our Sidney! It's a return of sorts to glamorous dolly bird roles for Joan and for a change she isn't on nagging wife mode. She interacts beautifully with Sid throughout the movie and also shares a few effective scenes with Maynard. She is also blessed with a cinematic best friend in regular supporting actress Marianne Stone. As Maud, Marianne grabs her biggest and most effective part in a Carry On in this film.
Joan makes her mark early on in Convenience in the now classic canteen sequence. I've often thought that if aliens invaded and I had to explain to them quickly what a Carry On film was all about, I'd just sit them down and show them this scene. Featuring Joan, Marianne Stone, Geoffrey Hughes, Sid, Richard O'Callaghan, Bernard Bresslaw and Kenneth Cope, it's a constant barrage of one liners, misunderstandings, double entendres and earthy good fun. Joan dominates the scene and as usual bounces out of it with every line. It's incredibly real, believable and her timing is perfection. It's clear all involved are having a ball.
In many ways the peak of the film is the delicious trip to the seaside. The Carry Ons returned to their spiritual home in Convenience ahd it just feels so right to see Sid, Kenneth, Charles and Joan camping about on the pier. This adventure involved several days away from Pinewood on location and the cast and crew were all put up in local hotels. This must have been quite a treat for Joan after over a decade limited to location work in Black Park and Pinewood Green!
Joan's character Chloe is involved in some delightful high jinks down the pier and she and Sid set up Kenneth's stuffy pompous W.C Boggs and his secretary, the downtrodden Miss Withering (the always excellent Patsy Rowlands). As Sid poses as a gypsy fortune teller, sending up W.C and Miss Withering and promising them they will have one, two, three...fourteen children, Joan peers through the tent flap with almost uncontrollable giggles. It's classic feelgood Carry On at its finest. The climax of the scene sees Joan pop Sid's balloons! As with a similar climatic scene in Abroad, Sid and Joan's shared laughter goes way beyond performance!
Joan is involved in another one of my very favourite Carry On moments in this film. It's not typical Carry On fare either. Sid has been chasing Joan throughout the film and as they return home after the riotous trip to Brighton, they both find themselves tempted to take things further. As they stand outside their homes late at night, they share a touching scene which tugs at the heart strings and is also more gently comic than usual. It's the pinnacle of their onscreen relationship and Sid and Joan's chemistry is once again superb.
The end of the film sees Sid's wife Hattie Jacques leave her obsession with her budgie at home and take more of an interest in his working life, scuppering any chance of a Sid and Joan fling. Joan may lose out in the love stakes in Convenience but it's still a cracking performance in cracking Carry On. It will always be one of my favourites.
What do you think of Joan's role in Carry On At Your Convenience? If you need a reminder of her classic canteen scene, here it is again for you to enjoy: