Friday 29 April 2016

Joan Carries On ... as Ellen Moore


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 write about Joan's role as Ellen Moore, the wealthy widow in Carry On Again Doctor. Although I love this film for Jim Dale's central performance as Jimmy Nookey and for giving us our first glimpse of the glorious Patsy Rowlands in a Carry On, the majority of the film is fairly forgettable as far as I'm concerned. Again Doctor is a film of two parts. The first half is a pretty standard follow up to the classic Carry On Doctor. Dale, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Hattie Jacques camp around a remarkably similar hospital, being remarkably similar to their previous medical roles. 

This time around Williams and Jacques are playing more sympathetic characters while Charles Hawtrey actually gets to play the villain of the piece. I actually quite enjoy his turn as the vaguely fiendish Dr Stoppidge. The second half of the film sees our hero Jim packed off to a remote tropical island after he disgraces the hospital once to often. This story arc finally sees the introduction of Sid James as the wonderfully named medical missionary Gladstone Screwer. 

Jim and Sid share some brilliant scenes in this section and it's clear they had a great time working together. The final section of the film see Jim's Dr Nookey discover a miraculous weight loss treatment and set up his own fancy clinic with the help of money from the wealthy Mrs Moore. I have never been a fan of the fat farm section as it seems in quite poor taste really, but I digress. What of Joan's involvement in all this.

Well actually Joan has precious little to do in Again Doctor. After two barnstorming Carry On performances in 1968 (Khyber and Camping) Sims' role in Again Doctor is fairly limited and low key. Much of the action revolves around Williams, Dale, Hawtrey and latterly Sid James. Joan pops up throughout the film but is mainly a feed for the likes of Kenneth Williams. The pair do share a lovely scene during the party sequence at the hospital although I'm always distracted by Joan's perilously low cut gown! Much later there are also great scenes when Joan shares a room at the clinic with Charles Hawtrey in drag as the superb Lady Puddleton!


However, rather sadly this role sees Joan back in the familiar pattern of playing middle aged shrewish women. Given what we know about Joan as a woman, it must have been a bit trying to play those fat farm scenes. She does look good throughout but by this stage had pretty much been passed over in the glamour stakes by bubbly Barbara Windsor and her three strategically placed love hearts (!).

As you'll probably gather I'm not particularly fond of this film or Joan's rather bland role in it. Sims never gave a bad performance and is always a joy to watch, I just think in this case she deserved a lot better. As always she sparkles when paired with the likes of Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques, but I'm left rather disappointed with Ellen Moore and Carry On Again Doctor. The highlights remain a glorious camp villain in Charles Hawtrey, Jim Dale's amazing comedic physicality and lovely supporting turns from the likes of Patsy Rowlands, Peter Butterworth (too brief a performance!) and Kenneth Williams.

So what did you think of both Carry On Again Doctor and Joan's role as Ellen Moore? Get in touch and let me know!



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