Wednesday, 13 July 2016
On This Day ... 13 July 1964
On this day in 1964 filming wrapped on one of the best and most fondly remembered Carry On films ever made. Even the critics continue to applaud this one! Yes, 52 years ago today Carry On Cleo finished filming and a legendary British comedy was about to be let loose on the general public!
Cleo was hugely influential on the rest of the series, firmly establishing costume comedies as an integral part of the Carry On cannon. It also provided some of the most established and longest serving actors in the series with some sublime roles to get their teeth into. So to celebrate this Carry On milestone, here are five reasons why I love Carry On Cleo...
1. The film looks like quality from beginning to end. It's bright, colourful and the sets and costumes are a cut above the norm. Instead of making do with whatever they could find or trotting off to Berman's for a fitting in someone else's costume, the cast of Cleo were lucky enough to film in some of the sets left over from the big budget Elizabeth Taylor epic Cleopatra. What's more some of the costumes in Cleo were "borrowed" from that production too!
2. Kenneth Connor. In his last appearance in the series until 1969's Up The Jungle, Connor is on superb form as Hengist Pod, inventor of the square wheel. He forms a brilliant double act with handsome hero Jim Dale, trades delicious barbs with Sid James as Mark Antony and has a wonderful domestic set up with a rather shrewish Sheila Hancock. Quite simply it is Kenneth Connor at his best.
3. The Sid James / Kenneth Williams pairing reaches new heights in Cleo. Until now they had appeared in several films together but the real chalk and cheese double act had not really established itself until this film. Playing the best of friends and worst of enemies, Sid and Kenneth as Mark Antony and Julius Caesar are on terrific form. They dominate the film and the contrast between the two actors really makes it something special.
4. Cleo features a wonderful rogues gallery of well-known, highly regarded British character actors. The supporting cast boasts the likes of Sheila Hancock, Warren Mitchell, Brian Rawlinson, Francis De Wolff, Peggy Ann Clifford, Wanda Ventham, Michael Ward, Peter Gilmore, Victor Maddern, Jon Pertwee and Brian Oulton. A cavalcade of wonderful actors who thanks to the success of the Carry Ons, are now there forever for us to enjoy.
5. Finally, I cannot end this little blog without praising Amanda Barrie's delicious performance as the comedy Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra. It's as camp as Christmas and Amanda really does steal the show. Following on from her supporting role in Cabby, Barrie takes top spot in Cleo and no wonder it's become iconic. She also looks absolutely stunning throughout the film and has delightful chemistry with Sid James. Amanda's Cleo is surely one of the stand out performances in the entire Carry On series.
So to celebrate this Carry On milestone, why not pop on your DVD of Carry On Cleo tonight and enjoy one of the series' finest productions, bulging with talented actors, beautiful costumes and sets and a knock out script by Talbot Rothwell, firing on all cylinders. It's a classic!