Tuesday 9 June 2015

Not Quite A Carry On: Raising The Wind

I have been blogging about some of the many other films Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas produced and directed together during their long professional relationship. So far we have looked back at the likes of Nurse On Wheels, The Big Job and Bless This House. Today I'm going back a little further - Raising The Wind!

Yes quite. Raising The Wind is actually a rather cosy, early 1960s comedy film following the exploits of a bunch of rather mature looking young music students. It very much has the feel of one of the Doctor In The House films and features a large cast of well known comedy actors. Interestingly, Rogers and Thomas called upon then Carry On music man, Bruce Montgomery, to write the script for this film. And he does a fair job of it too.

Like many of of Rogers and Thomas' ensemble comedies, there isn't really much plot to speak of here. A group of ambitious young musicians progress through music school with the climax of the film revealing which ones pass their final exams. There is lots of terrific light comedy sprinkled throughout but as usual it is the quality of the performers that really raises the bar. 

The film boasts starring roles for several actors who were then Carry On regulars. They include Liz Fraser, Kenneth Williams, Leslie Phillips (who had just made his final Carry On until Columbus in 1992), Eric Barker and Sid James in a wonderful cameo role alongside Lance Percival as a pair of dodgy music producers. Heading up the cast and bridging the gap between Doctor and Carry On franchises is a larger than life performance from the legendary James Robertson Justice, who brings his bombastic Lancelot Spratt character to life once again. 

Also along for the ride are Paul Massie, Jennifer Jayne and Jimmy Thompson, who join Fraser, Phillips and Williams as the music students. Jimmy Thompson would appear in three Carry Ons, Regardless, Cruising and Jack, but has his largest role here as Alex. Canadian Paul Massie made many films during this time but later moved to Florida and became a theatre Professor at a University. Finally, the glamorous Jennifer Jayne who made her only appearance for Rogers and Thomas in this film. She was known at the time for working alongside Dirk Bogarde in the classic The Blue Lamp and Norman Wisdom in the film On The Beat. 

Despite the fact the film has no major plot to speak of it is still a joy to watch mainly due to the supporting cast which is crammed with regular faces from the Carry On/Doctor group of repertory players. Look out for the likes of Geoffrey Keen, Joan Hickson, Esma Cannon, Victor Maddern, David Lodge, Brian Oulton and the very first appearance from future Carry On legend, Jim Dale. As always, these Pinewood stalwarts knew how to cast a film economically with expert and experienced talents.

Without a doubt the high point of Raising the Wind is the scene which sees Kenneth Williams attempt to conduct an orchestra. It is a masterpiece of comic acting and timing and shows Kenneth at his comedic peak. I love it and can watch it again and again.

So there we are, Raising the Wind. Nothing extraordinary but yet again Peter and Gerald give us something that rises up above the average thanks to a wonderful cast of comedy performers at the top of their game. And to finish, here is that wonderful scene of Kenneth Williams taking on the role of conductor!

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  1. I'm a carry on fan. Always have been. But I was never sure why this was not on that list. It fits every criteria. Yes the best part was Williams trying to keep control of an orchestra he had just insulted but did James sing that poppsie crisp jingle still makes giggle. Is it available on DVD?

    1. Hi Jane, thanks for your comments! I think it should have been a Carry On really, although it stands up well on its own. Sid did sing that jingle! Love it!

      You can get it on DVD: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Raising-Wind-James-Robertson-Justice/dp/B002VD5S4M

      Best wishes