On this day in 1965 filming began on one of the most popular Carry On films of the 1960s. It was the first time the Carry Ons had headed to the United States, even if it was via the Pinewood Studios back lot! Yes, 51 years ago today filming commenced on Carry On Cowboy.
Cowboy was an ambitious production with plenty of action, big performances and lots of (mainly) brilliant American accents! It was the latest in a line of costume capers for the gang and the cast assembled worked wonderfully together. You could tell everyone was having a whale of a time, with the men acting out cowboy and western fantasies and the ladies enjoying a terrific array of glamorous costumes. So here, to celebrate this anniversary, are five reasons why I love Carry On Cowboy.
1. Sid James was handed the role of a lifetime in the Rumpo Kid. He was so convincing as the ruthless cowboy and while it combined elements of his cheeky chancer from the Hancock days, it was the first time we saw Sid the serious actor in the Carry Ons. The beginning of the film sees Rumpo shoot several men, quite a shock for viewers used to the cosy Hudis era of British comedies. Sid is in command throughout, looking at ease in the saddle, romancing Joan Sims and Angela Douglas and taking on the likes of Jim Dale. It's a masterful performance!
2. As Belle, Joan Sims is given one of the finest roles of her Carry On career. She is majestic, dressed in a series of figure hugging gowns, acting her socks off with some of her favourite co-stars and playing a really strong, powerful woman. She is funny, vulnerable and gorgeous throughout. Cowboy also provides Joan with her best ever screen entrance, coming down the stairs in that black dress, accompanied by Eric Rogers on the piano. Fantastic.
4. Cowboy features one of my favourite Carry On sequences and is an early demonstration of strong women being funny on screen. Yes, it's the scene in which Joan Sims, Angela Douglas and Edina Ronay all descend on timid Jim Dale in the dead of night! It's a corker and the comedy cat fight that ensues is one that stands up to repeat viewing. The Carry Ons may have had their stereotypes when it came to portraying women, but they still provided actresses with some cracking parts!
5. Speaking of which, Cowboy saw the debut of one of the series' most fondly remembered leading ladies. I am referring of course, to Angela Douglas, who gave such an assured and spirited performance as Annie Oakley in this film. It was the beginning of a four film run for Angela in Carry On costume comedies and she provided much needed classic English elegance. Nobody else could have played Angela's parts and Cowboy began a wonderful on screen relationship with Jim Dale - the pair worked beautifully together.
So there you have it, five reasons why I love Carry On Cowboy. So why not celebrate the anniversary of this brilliant film going into production by sticking on the DVD this evening? Wagons roll!