Friday 22 January 2016

Joan carries on ... as WPC Gloria Passworthy

This blog is part of a new regular series on Carry On Blogging. I'm going to attempt to blog about each of Joan Sims' wonderful roles in the Carry On films. Joan was the most prolific of all the actresses involved in the series, clocking up 24 films. Indeed, only Kenneth Williams made more Carry Ons.

Today I am going to look back at Joan's third Carry On role, as the formidable, ambitious WPC Gloria Passworthy in Carry On Constable. Released in 1960, this film saw the gang in full swing as the idea of an original team started to take shape. Joining Joan were regular co-stars Kenneths Williams and Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Leslie Phillips and Hattie Jacques. Eric Barker and Shirley Eaton returned for more fun while the film also saw the arrival of one Mr Sidney James as Sergeant Frank Wilkins.

Gloria Passworthy arrives as a replacement due to a recent flu epidemic, joining fellow new recruits Connor, Williams, Hawtrey and Phillips. While the men are an absolute shower (literally!), bumbling around and causing chaos, Joan's WPC Passworthy is on the ball, on the beat and aiming high. We first meet the character when she arrives having arrested Joan Hickson's Mrs May for being drunk and disorderly. The scenes with the two Joans and Hattie Jacques are superb. 

Despite Shirley Eaton's cameo in Constable, Sims is still the female romantic lead in this film following her glorious turn as Miss Allock in the previous film Carry On Teacher. Although she is much more regimented and serious in the film, she is still the love interest, attracting the attentions of the bumbling Constable Constable, played with comic panache by the wonderful Kenneth Connor. Constable is highly superstitious and forever putting his foot in it and the two seem destined to remain apart however once Hattie's Laura Moon steps in for a bit of light meddling, Constable sees the light and goes for it! 

Connor and Sims work extoremely well together and would become regular colleagues over the next two decades. Although Sims' role in Constable is not as large as her previous characters, she certainly makes the most of her part. Frustratingly she isn't involved in the main action; that falls to the four male leads. Still, it's refreshing for a film of that time and indeed for a Carry On to show that the women are more than capable of beating the men at their own game. Showing a highly competent female police officer taking on the men was admirable and probably something much for of the Hudis era than anything that followed.

I think Carry On Constable probably cemented Joan's role as a pivotal member of the Carry On Team. She yet again proved her worth as a sublime comedy character actress and would soon become the immediate, natural choice for Rogers and Thomas, not just in the Carry Ons but also in many other films they made together. 

At around the time of Constable, Joan would also appear in several other films from the same stable, including Please Turn Over, Watch Your Stern and Twice Round The Daffodils. She became the female answer to Kenneth Williams and both would enjoy a twenty year association with the Carry Ons. 

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