Tuesday 10 October 2017

Carry On Faces in Different Places: Up Pompeii!

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.

So far I've looked at the wonderful 1959 crime caper Too Many Crooks , the 1954 domestic comedy starring Dirk Bogarde, For Better For Worse and the big screen spin off Please Sir! 

Today we're going to cover another classic British comedy film, this time from the same year as Please Sir, 1971. The hit big screen version of Frankie Howerd's wonderful BBC comedy series, Up Pompeii! This being the era of the big screen spin off, it was only a matter of time before Up Pompeii made its way to the cinema. 

Who's in it?

The film of course stars the magnificent Frankie Howerd who appears to be in his element throughout. It also stars some truly wonderful British character actors in Michael Hordern, Barbara Murray, Patrick Cargill and Bill Fraser.

Carry On Faces?

We all know Frankie Howerd guest starred in both Carry On Doctor and Up The Jungle as well as the 1969 Carry On Christmas Thames Television special. Up Pompeii also features a cameo from Carry On regular Bernard Bresslaw as Gorgo. Nero is played by Patrick Cargill who had cameo roles in both Carry On Regardless and Carry On Jack. Cargill also wrote the play Ring for Catty with Jack Beale which formed the basis for Carry On Nurse.

Also in Up Pompeii is Carry On Cruising, Twice Round the Daffodils and The Big Job actor Lance Percival; Carry On Matron actress Madeline Smith as Erotica (!) and future Carry On Behind actress Adrienne Posta as Scrubba. Also watch out for blink and you'll miss them appearances from Laraine Humphrys (Girls, Christmas 73 and Dick) and Carol Hawkins (Abroad, Behind, Carry On Laughing). Laraine played Flavia while Carol appeared as Nero's Girl.

What's it about?

Up Pompeii is a 1971 British sex comedy film directed by Bob Kellett  The film was shot at Elstree Film studios, Borehamwood and is based on characters that first appeared in the British television sitcom Up Pompeii.

Lurcio becomes the inadvertent possessor of a scroll bearing all the names of the proposed assassins of Nero. The conspirators need to recover the scroll fast, but it has fallen into the hands of Lurcio's master, Ludicrus Sextus, who mistakenly reads the contents of the scroll to the Senate. Farcical attempts are made to retrieve the scroll before Pompeiii is eventually consumed by the erupting Vesuvius. 

Best Bit?

It has to be Frankie's constant desire to "break the fourth wall" by addressing the audience directly throughout the film. It's a trick he developed in many of his television performances - that gossipy over the garden wall style of humour really suited Frankie and he was the master of it!  

Did you know?

The film was the 10th most popular film at the British box office for 1971. 

It also led to two further Up films, both featuring many of the same faces - Up The Front and Up The Chastity Belt.

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