Friday, 1 July 2016
Joan Carries On ... as Connie Philpotts
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 one my least favourite of Joan's Carry On roles. Unsurprisingly the role of Connie Philpotts is also in one of my least favourite of all the Carry Ons, Carry On Girls. Connie is the owner of the hotel at the centre of the film and also the some time girlfriend of the film's leading man, Sid James as Councillor Sidney Fiddler. The film itself is really the Sid and Barbara show as they lark about amidst the backdrop of a rather dodgy looking beauty contest at the dreary seaside resort of Fircombe.
Although Joan gets third billing in the film, she really has little to do and does it with little note. Joan was never anything other than fantastic in the Carry Ons, however this part comes closest to turning up on autopilot. Connie is little more than a nagging shrew of a character. Before I go on, it's not all bad. Joan does enjoy several lovely scenes with the likes of Joan Hickson and Peter Butterworth but she is pretty out of place with the rest of the action. Perhaps Carry On Girls is the film that takes the series closest to the Confessions series (even boasting a supporting turn from Robin Askwith). It just doesn't work for me and it does Joan few favours either.
Joan was originally destined to share top billing with Sid James as their on-screen partnership had hit a new peak with the previous film in the series, Carry On Abroad. However the powers that be decided to focus more on Sid's chemistry with Barbara Windsor which changed the whole nature of the film. As a Joan fan, I can't help but think that was a miss-step. I also think Joan was far too young to be playing the part of downtrodden Connie. She was only 42 when filming commenced and the type of material being thrown at her must have been depressing for an actress as sensitive and thoughtful as Joan. Someone as talented as Joan deserved better too. Although I loved Joan's prominence throughout the series, I can't help but wish she had turned down some of the later Carry On roles that were offered to her. I know an actor needs to work but I believe roles in the likes of Girls, Behind and England may have damaged Joan's otherwise successful career.
It's rare for me to rate other performances above Joan's in a Carry On, but the ones that really stand out for me in Girls are those from June Whitfield, Kenneth Connor and Patsy Rowlands. Sadly the part of Connie marked the beginning of a steady decline for Joan in the Carry On films. Not only would the quality of her roles decline but also the size of them. By England, she was pretty much a supporting actor in a cameo role.
I struggled to write this blog which is rare. Compared to the likes of Cora in Abroad, Queen Marie in Henry and Lady Bagley in Up the Jungle, Connie Philpotts just doesn't cut it. The only bright spot is that she makes off with Sid's money at the end of the picture! Good for her I say.
So am I overreacting about Joan's performance in Carry On Girls? Are you a big fan of Connie and the film? If so, get in touch and defend it!
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