Tuesday 11 August 2015

Carry On Dick: A Fitting Farewell?

Carry On Dick might not have been the last film in the Carry On series but it was a real watershed moment. Not only was it the last film Talbot Rothwell scripted for the franchise, it was also the last original Carry On film for three of the stars - Hattie Jacques, Sid James and Barbara Windsor.

Now I know this might be a bit unfair as at the time it was not scheduled to be the last film appearance for any of these main players. Hattie Jacques, making her fourteenth film in the series, did require special insurance from the Pinewood legal team due to ongoing health issues however given her popularity, Peter Rogers was obviously keen to include her. Sid was certainly showing no signs of retiring, appearing in the stage revue Carry On London simultaneously with Carry On Dick's rapid filming schedule. Barbara meanwhile was given one her biggest parts in the series in this entry.

Looking back though, was Dick really a good film for them all to go out on? It's certainly never been one of my absolute must have favourites, despite it featuring such a large cast of regular Carry On stars. Sid pretty much reprises his dual role from Don't Lose Your Head, playing the dastardly, rough around the edges Dick Turpin by night and the mild mannered Reverend Flasher (!) during the day. It's quite an impressive performance from Sid, particularly as Rev Flasher. It's understated, by Carry On standards at least.

Barbara Windsor is Sid's main co-star in Dick. By this stage the kind of performance Barbara gave in Carry On Spying is but a distant memory. Nothing at all subtle here and I can't say I'm a massive fan. Hattie meanwhile is relegated to a fairly minor supporting turn as Reverend Flasher's housekeeper. 

The script for Dick is even more raunchy than previous efforts with often little left to the imagination. It's also quite a slow moving film with very little pace or action. Kenneth Williams wrote in his diary that the finished film looked like everyone in it was ill and I can kind of see his point! I do love Bernard Bresslaw's barnstorming performance however and he makes a glorious double act with the cockney French impersonator Madame Desiree, played with gusto by Joan Sims. 

Apart from a few brief, cherished moments, Dick just fails to sparkle like previous costume entries such as Don't Lose Your Head, Cleo or Henry. It's all a bit flat and mediocre. In many ways I actually prefer the next film in the series, Behind, which although seeing a reduced roster of regulars, actually is a much better film to watch.

So what do you think, was Carry On Dick a good film for these series regulars to go out on? 

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