Saturday 26 March 2016

Five of the Best: Carry On Finales


It became common for a Carry On film to have a rather riotous slapstick finale which typically brought all the plot strands together and sent the audience out of the cinema happy after 90 minutes of naughty high jinks. The finales weren't always about slapstick though, some of the best Carry On endings were low key but summed the films up and just felt right.

So here, in my own humble opinion are my five favourite Carry On endings:

Carry On Nurse (1959)
One of the most successful of all the Carry Ons, Nurse was the first one with a medical theme and still makes me laugh today after countless viewings. While it did have elements of slapstick - the laughing gas scene is pure farce and timeless comedy - the final gag in the film made it somewhat notorious (for 1959) and really made the film, and the series. Hattie Jacques' Matron, walking in on the Colonel having his temperature taken with a daffodil is a brilliant end to this classic medical comedy. It leaves the audience laughing and wanting more and it proved a rather unexpected conclusion! Hattie's Matron was an austere, formidable presence throughout the film, however the daffodil gag shows a slight glimmer of humanity which is a lovely touch and nice to go out on. 

Carry On Regardless (1961)
The first proper slapstick finale see the members of the Helping Hands agency tasked with clearing up Stanley Unwin's crumbling stately home. It's got very little to do with anything at all but then the entire film was very sequential, a series of revue sketches held together with expert ease by Sid James. The end of the film is basically an excuse to see the likes of Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor and Joan Sims lark about and cause mayhem. And excellent fun it looks too! Of course, as with the vast majority of the Carry On films, these sequence would have been much less enjoyable in not in the hands of so many experienced, delightful comedy actors and farceurs.


Carry On Up The Khyber (1968)
One of the very best of all the Carry Ons, this send up of everything it means to be British is a joy from beginning to end. The climax of the film see Kenneth Williams' Khasi attempt to destroy the British residency whilst Sir Sidney Ruff Diamond enjoys a genteel dinner party with his house guests. It typifies the best of British bonkers eccentricity. However my favourite element of this films' finale is right at the end as the British survey the destruction. With a relaxed shrug of the shoulders, Sid tells Joan and the others that they'll just clean it all up in the morning. It's a brilliant moment, further enhanced by Peter Butterworth's double take at the sight of the Union Jack which proclaims "I'm backing Britain!" Perfect!


Carry On Loving (1970)
This dating agency comedy is like an updated version of Carry On Regardless. The same agency set up with Sid at the helm, the same inter-connecting plot lines and individual sketches. The film climaxes with a wedding reception of Sid and Sophie Bliss (Sid and Hattie Jacques) which brings together all the couples they have brought together during the film. Thanks to Bernard Bresslaw the reception quickly descends into a farcical food fight which is brilliantly staged and again looks terrific fun! Poor Kenneth Williams obviously hated the experience and did his best to dodge the flying flans! According to the late Patsy Rowlands, they had to come back and resume filming the following day by which time all the cream from the cakes had gone off. The dedication of Carry On actors!


Carry On Abroad (1972)
Finally, probably one of my favourites. There is surely no more satisfying ending to a Carry On film than Abroad. The holidaymakers, having survived the atrocious lng weekend in the dreadful Palace Hotel, regroup at Sid and Joans' boozer for a lock in, complete with a drop of the wonderful Santa Cecilia's Elixir (which allows men to see through women's clothes, to their underwear at least!) Sid and Joan look perfect as landlord and landlady and it's a real feelgood ending with the whole cast reunited. There is also a slight sadness to this ending as it affords us the last glimpse of Charles Hawtrey in a Carry On. It's a nostalgic moment and pure class. 


So those are my favourite finales. What are yours?

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