Wednesday 16 August 2017

Carry On Faces in Different Places: For Better For Worse


Here we go with a brand new series of blogs looking at some of the cream of British comedy film making from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Although this blog is all about the Carry Ons, believe it or not, there were some other joyous comedy films made away from Peter Rogers Productions. However, given the quality of the actors Peter employed to make his series, it's no wonder that most of them popped up elsewhere.

We're starting off today with a classic gentle comedy from 1954, For Better For Worse, written and directed by J Lee Thompson.

Who's in it?

The film stars Dirk Bogarde, Susan Stephen, Thora Hird, Dennis Price, Cecil Parker, Athene Seyler and Eileen Herlie.


Carry On Faces?

Carry On Nurse actress Susan Stephen heads the cast opposite Bogarde while future Carry On leading man Sidney James pops up for a cameo towards the end of the film as a removal man. Watch out also for Carry On Jack actor George Woodbridge, Peter Jones (England, Doctor) as a car salesman and of course, the great Cecil Parker playing Stephen's father. Cecil also guest starred in Carry On Jack.

What's it about?

For Better For Worse is a gentle, light, frothy comedy of its era - the 1950s. Despite this it retains much of its freshness in the 21st Century. This is mainly due to the deftness of touch from the experienced cast and the fast moving direction. The story revolves around young couple Tony and Anne who plan to marry and set up home together. The film follows their trials and tribulations as they gain the approval of Anne's parents, find work and somewhere to live and make their way in the world. It's all rather twee and old fashioned ("my husband believes a woman's place is in the home") as we follow their money worries, efforts to impress the inlaws and battles with their range of neighbours, which include eye-catching turns from Dennis Price and Athene Seyler. Reliable character actress Thora Hird also pops up in a memorable role as an interfering char lady. It's a glorious showcase for some of Britain's finest light comedy actors and you should definitely check it out.


Best bit?

There's a beautifully chaotic scene which sees Susan Stephen's Anne attempt to prepare a dinner party to impress her parents which all hell breaks loose around her. A leak from above, a busy body char lady, James Hayter's annoying plumber and Athene Seyler's constantly interrupting neighbour Miss Mainbrace, who continually wants to use the telephone. It's lovely farce played expertly by a handful of super performers.

Did You Know?

This film version comes from an original play of the same name, by Arthur Watkyn. The play had been a huge hit in the West End, running to over 500 performances and starring future Miss Marple Geraldine McEwan and Carry On favourite Leslie Phillips. Sadly neither actor appeared in the film version.


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