Tuesday 21 July 2015

Not Quite A Carry On: Watch Your Stern

I have been writing about some of the other comedy films Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas made together during their long career in film making. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, this prolific duo churned out many British comedies which featured Carry On actors, Carry On writers and Carry On crew, without officially being Carry On films. 

So far I have looked at the likes of Nurse On Wheels, The Big Job and Raising The Wind. Today I am going to turn my attentions to a delightful naval comedy from 1960: Watch Your Stern. 

Watch Your Stern was released in 1960 and boasted a prime cast of regular Carry On actors from that period. The film focuses on the crew of a British warship who lose the plans to a new top secret torpedo and must hide this fact from both a senior Admiral and a famous scientist. At the heart of the action is a starring role for Carry On favourite Kenneth Connor. Connor was really the star of the early Carry Ons, playing bumbling romantic interests for the likes of Dora Bryan, Rosalind Knight and Joan Sims. He is paired again with Joan in Watch Your Stern and they make a delightful double act.

Kenneth is on fine accident prone form and even enjoys a bit of drag in this film, as he goes undercover in an attempt to fool the wiley old Admiral, played by Irish actor Noel Purcell. Purcell is a fantastic scene stealer who, although sadly never appearing in a Carry On film, also pops up as the local greengrocer in Nurse On Wheels. Playing the Captain of the ship and Joan's father is Eric Barker, star of two early Carry Ons - Sergeant and Constable. Eric's second in command is brought to life by another early Carry On star, Leslie Phillips. No doubt Leslie's long running role in the BBC radio comedy The Navy Lark saw him cast in this naval comedy.

Watch Your Stern also boasts cameo roles from two other wonderful Carry On stars. Hattie Jacques pops up for several scenes at the end of the film as the Admiralty Scientist, Agatha Potter. Sid James meanwhile, fresh from his first Carry On adventure in Constable, crops up throughout the film as Chief Petty Officer Mundy, the owner of some very impressive facial hair!

The film features a fine roster of regular Carry On supporting actors including David Lodge, Victor Maddern, Ed Devereux and Michael Nightingale, however there are  also two very famous faces in the cast list. Sadly this would be the only time either Eric Sykes or Spike Milligan would work for Rogers and Thomas but it is a joy to see them cast as a couple of work shy civilian electricians. Perhaps Spike's characterisation would not be allowed today though...

Watch Your Stern is a light and frothy, easygoing comedy film, very much of its time. It's a perfect way to spend an undemanding hour and a half enjoying some classic nostalgia as a bunch of excellent comedy performers strut their stuff with ease. You really can't go wrong with the likes of Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims and Leslie Phillips all on top form. While the film is not crammed full of gags and the jokes that are there are pretty innocent, it is a really good example of Rogers, Thomas and Co at their finest. 

If you haven't seen it before, or it's just been a while, why not track it down and give it a go?

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