Thursday 4 January 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: What a Carve Up!

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 , the big screen spin off Please Sir! and the wonderful Up Pompeii and the brilliant John Gregson and Diana Dors vehicle, Value for Money.
Today we're going to cover another classic British comedy film, this time from way back in the early 1960s - What a Carve Up!. What a Carve Up! is a 1961 British comedy horror film directed by Pat Jackson. It was released in the United States in 1962 as No Place Like Homicide. The film was loosely based on the novel The Ghoul by Frank King. 

Carry On Faces?

The film capitalises on the success of the early Carry On films by featuring several familiar faces who helped kick start the series. Fresh from success in both Carry On Constable and Regardless, Sid James takes the starring role in What a Carve Up! as Syd Butler, bookmaker and friend to Ernest Broughton, brought beautifully to life by Carry On stalwart Kenneth Connor. Connor is at the height of his film fame during this period and he shares the limelight and the "starring" honours with long time friend and colleague Sid James. Also co-starring is the glamorous original Carry On leading lady, Shirley Eaton as Linda. And stealing the show, as she often did, is the delightful Esma Cannon as Ernest's Aunt Emily. Also keep your eyes peeled for veteran actor George Woodbridge as Dr Edward Broughton. George had a cameo role in the 1963 film Carry On Jack.


What's it about?

The relatives of Gabriel Broughton are summoned to Blackshore Towers, an old, isolated country house in the middle of moorlands in Yorkshire, to hear the reading of his will. Gabriel's nervous nephew Ernest brings along his flatmate Syd for support. At the large, gloomy mansion, they meet Guy Broughton, Ernest's cousin; Malcolm Broughton, a piano player who claims everyone is "quite mad"; Janet Broughton and Dr Edward Broughton, Guy's sister and father, respectively; Emily Broughton, a dotty old woman who believes the First World War is still on; and Linda Dixon, Gabriel's nurse. To their surprise, the solicitor Everett Sloane reveals that they have all inherited nothing, except for Linda, who is bequeathed Gabriel's medicines and syringe, much to her amusement.


Best Bit?

When Ernest goes to use the toilet, someone tries to stab the sleeping Syd, then desists when he speaks up. Ernest starts playing "Chopsticks" on the organ. Malcolm joins him in a duet, but is stabbed in the back. Ernest's screams bring the others. It is quite a surreal moment and thanks to the wonderful Kenneth Connor, it is hilarious and has stayed with me long since I last saw the film.

Did you know?

The film was used extensively within Jonathan Coe's satirical novel What a Carve Up! The book's protagonist, Michael Owen, becomes obsessed with the film after first watching it as a young boy. Additionally, the last part of the book follows the plot of the film.

The film also features an uncredited guest role from young singer Adam Faith. Watch out for him at the very end of the movie!


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