Saturday 2 January 2016

My Review: Please Turn Over

I decided late last year to treat myself to a few guilty pleasures. There are several films associated with the Carry Ons that I have never seen so I've decided to put that right. I have purchased copies of Doctor In Love, Please Turn Over, Not Now, Comrade and the vintage television sitcom Our House. As I'm a first time viewer of all of these classics, I am going to review each title for the blog. Today I'm starting with Please Turn Over.

Please Turn Over is a prime piece of British film comedy from the glorious late 1950s black and white era. It is very much a Carry On affair as it is written by Norman Hudis, produced by Peter Rogers, directed by Gerald Thomas with a musical score by Bruce Montgomery. The original idea for the film comes from a West End play called Book of the Month by Basil Thomas. The film was released in 1959 at the height of the early Carry On success and features a host of familiar team players.

The film tells the story of a young girl and her suburban, middle class family. All very normal and ordinary to begin with. That is until the girl, Jo, has a rather racy novel published! She has based the entire story on family members and local figures and the whole thing goes down a storm. Soon, the family is the talk of the town and Jo is courted by a young playwright. Initially the family do not take kindly to the intrusion, causing Jo to flee to London with her new young friend. As Jo's parents sit down to read her work, she provides the narrative to the audience, revealing the salacious details to us all. As she does this, her family members are seen acting out the fantasy she has created and it is all highly entertaining, brought to life as it is by a rich cast of experienced farceurs. 

The majority of the film is carried by the then 18 year old Julia Lockwood, daughter of the famous British actress Margaret Lockwood. Julia does extremely well in the main role and is remarkably self assured, especially when you consider she is playing opposite some leading names. Her romantic interest in the film is played by another young face who would go on to greater success, the boyishly handsome Tim Seely. 

The main star of Please Turn Over is that outstanding comedian, Ted Ray. Fresh from his success as the guest star in Carry On Teacher, Ray was obviously flavour of the month for Peter Rogers. Ray was intended to be the main star of the forthcoming Carry On Constable, but sadly this wasn't to be due to his contractual obligations elsewhere. He does a fine job as the embattled family man at the head of Please Turn Over and his ably supported by the lovely Jean Kent as his wife Janet. It is also great to see Lionel Jeffries make an appearance as Janet's rather nervous driving instructor!

Another Carry On star, Leslie Phillips, also bags some excellent scenes as the local doctor, Henry Manners. Playing against type for some of the film, Manners is a shy man unused to female attention. As always, Leslie is great value. As is another frequent Carry On player and regular team member, Joan Sims. Joan is on terrific form in this film, playing the family's char lady. It's a typically unglamorous character part for Joan but she excels, constantly seen in a headscarf with a fag drooping out one corner of her mouth. In the narrative of Jo's book "The Naked Revolt", the downtrodden char is transformed into a French maid and Joan has never looked better! 

One of the main joys of Please Turn Over is the supporting cast which is packed full of celebrated British character actors, most of whom turn up time and time again in Peter Rogers productions. June Jago, who appeared in Carry On Regardless and Doctor, gets a more substantial role in Please Turn Over as Jo's aunt Gladys. The gorgeous Dilys Laye gets to demonstrate her superb versatility by playing Ted Ray's rather prim, officious secretary Millicent Jones and also, again in Jo's novel, a rather calculating, malicious gold digger called Stella! 

Keep your eyes peeled for brief but satisfying cameos from the wonderful scene stealers Charles Hawtrey (as a jewellery salesman) and the peerless Joan Hickson as a toffee-nosed furs saleswoman. Although small roles, they add a depth and quality to the film. Also appearing are stalwarts of the British film industry at the time which include Noel Dyson, Marianne Stone, Cyril Chamberlain, Lucy Griffiths and Victor Maddern. All play relatively minor roles but every film is enhanced by their presence.

In the end, despite the middle class scandals, all is well. Couples are reunited, love blossoms and calm is restored. I would really recommend anyone who hasn't seen Please Turn Over to track it down. It is available for very little money on the internet and is well worth a watch. It's not the greatest film ever made, but it is a prime example of some of the other comedy films Rogers and Thomas churned out during the peak of their popularity. 

As with most of their output, it is the cast of top quality actors which make it what it is. If you are a fan of these brilliant British stars, Please Turn Over is definitely for you.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan

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