Thursday 5 November 2015

Happy Birthday Elke Sommer

Legendary actress and international Carry On guest star Elke Sommer celebrates her 75th birthday today. German-born Elke might have been an unusual choice to star in the very British Carry On Behind, but she puts in a terrific performance in the film and works well with Kenneth Williams.

As Professor Anna Vooshka, Elke gamely camps about the Pinewood Orchard in the freezing cold March of 1975 alongside the likes of Kenneth Connor, Bernard Bresslaw and Joan Sims. Much is made of the foreign misunderstandings and innuendos, how much of those Elke actually understood is anyone's guess! 

While Elke's casting might seem somewhat bizarre, she did have a track record in comedy films, most famously the classic Pink Panther film A Shot in the Dark. She had worked for Betty Box (wife of Peter Rogers) in two 1970s bawdy British comedies - Percy and Percy's Progress. Sommer became friendly with Betty and Peter so eventually it probably seemed natural to cast her in a Carry On. I have a soft spot for Behind, it's really the last gasp of the original films and does well to capture even some of the feel good factor, given we'd already said goodbye to Sid, Hattie, Barbara and Charles. 

Although Vooska's romantic pairing with Kenneth's Roland Crump is completely bonkers, the pair are excellent and lead the film with aplomb. Apparently many of the other cast didn't really get to know Elke during the making of Behind, but I'd love to know what she made of her time with the Carry On gang at Pinewood.

These days Elke is based in the United States and concentrates her efforts on her painting and art work, rather than acting. 

Many happy returns Elke!

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