Sunday 23 August 2015

My Favourite Scene: Carry On Teacher

I have been writing an occasional series of blogs looking at my favourite scenes in each of the thirty Carry On films produced between 1958 and 1978. So far I've covered quite a range of the films, from the very first, Sergeant in 1958 through some of my real favourites (Cabby, Abroad) and even managed to scrape something together for Carry On England!

Today I'm going right back to the late 1950s and the third film in the series, Carry On Teacher! Teacher is not really a traditional Carry On as we've come to think of them today. It is a central part of the Norman Hudis era and has a light comedic touch, gentle humour and a dash of social commentary. It is in many ways a mix of Ealing comedies, Doctor comedies and the St Trinian's films. 

Carry On Teacher combines a cast of prime series regulars (Sims, Williams, Hawtrey, Connor and Jacques), some great guest actors (Leslie Phillips, Rosalind Knight and Ted Ray) with a brilliant cast of young actors, mainly hired from the Corona Academy. Richard O'Sullivan is the main younger character and he is surrounded by the likes of Carol White, George Howell and Jacqueline Lewis. The young actors put in great performances and do wonderfully well given they are up against such seasoned professionals.

There is a lot of heart in Carry On Teacher. The children are naughty, not bad. The staff care although they squabble and clash with the inspectors. It's a lovely film and one I always think I should watch more often. So what about my favourite scene?

There are a lot of cleverly scripted and shot slapstick scenes as the school children play pranks on their teachers. There are some heartrending scenes as Ted Ray fights for his school and prepares to leave Maudlin Street. However, my favourite scene doesn't fall into any of those categories. I love the blossoming romance between Kenneth Connor's Mr Adams and Rosalind Knight's Felicity Wheeler. 

The Carry On films used to include subplots of tender little romances between characters, such as Kenneth Williams storyline with Jill Ireland in Carry On Nurse. They showed what great actors these comedy performers were and I love them. They always added an extra dimension to what otherwise would be quite slim premises for films. Kenneth Connor is the star of Teacher and yet again turns in a brilliantly bumbling and sympathetic performance. As with many other roles he played at the time, he falls for a lovely young woman but struggles to express his true feelings. The audience get behind him and spur him on, as we always root for the underdog. 

Rosalind Knight is superb as the strict, sober school inspector Felicity Wheeler. Following a cameo role as the inept Nurse Nightingale in Nurse, Rosalind returns for a much more substantial and very different part here. She works really well with Connor and the whole thing is very believable. So my favourite scene comes near the end of the film when they finally get together. it's beautifully played and the soppy side of me loves it to pieces. 

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