Sunday 26 June 2016

Carry On Chopping!


Sadly one of the downsides of the Carry On films being made on such a shoestring and so quickly was that some scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Gerald Thomas was an experienced editor even before he became a legendary and economical director and his word was law. While we will always love the finished films, the archived papers show that in many cases whole scenes were ditched. 

We cannot change decisions made at the time and usually scenes would be cut due to concerns over running time or a scene not adding anything to the overall pace of the film. However without the benefit of hindsight, hardly any of these scenes remain intact today. What bothers me about this is that it has robbed us all of many more precious moments of cherished comedy actors in action who are mostly now no longer with us. So here, in no particular order, are some of the scenes I wish we'd had the chance to view today.

Patsy Rowlands in Carry On Henry (1970)


Patsy Rowlands was a fine supporting actress in nine Carry Ons. Sometimes she had roles big enough for her to be billed with the main team and sometimes she popped in for two lines and a wink. I don't know why this was the case and I wish she'd had big parts (!) in them all. One of her smallest appearances was as the outgoing Queen right at the beginning of Carry On Henry. According to Patsy herself (in a DVD audio commentary) that scene was originally much longer, however Gerald Thomas decided to cut it because it was too serious! What a shame! I'd love to have seen Patsy giving it her all!

Bernard Bresslaw and Dilys Laye in Carry On Doctor (1967)


The photo above clearly shows an extra scene featuring favourites Dilys Laye and Bernard Bresslaw. If this scene was ever filmed, why was it cut? I love both Dilys and Bernard and thought they worked really well together in both Doctor and Camping. Due to the bulging cast of favourites in Doctor, it sometimes felt that these two brilliant actors were sidelined a little. I'd have loved more scenes of them together.
Julian Holloway and Trisha Noble in Carry On Camping (1968)


Julian Holloway provided eye catching support in eight Carry On films. In 1968 he played two of his largest roles in both Khyber and Camping. He was very obviously taking a larger share of roles meant for the absent Jim Dale. Sadly his role as Jim Tanner in Camping was cut back significantly, almost completely removing a romantic storyline with new Carry On girl, Australian actress Trisha Noble. The photo above shows a scene in the shower stalls with Julian chasing off a ram! I don't know why this storyline was curtailed however there were rumours around Noble not being the most popular addition to the team...

Terry Scott in Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)


One of the biggest surprises to hit the cutting room floor was an entire scene (allegedly lasting around ten minutes in all) featuring union discussions in the boardroom at Boggs' factory. The scene, featuring Sid, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Cope, Richard O'Callaghan and Terry Scott was removed as it led to the film over-running. Sadly this meant Terry's entire performance was gone from the film. This must be a very rare occasion of a major Carry On team player being cut out from one of the films.

Bill Maynard in Carry on Abroad (1972)

The picture above depicts one of several extra scenes shot in the travel agency in Carry On Abroad. I presume the scenes were cut due to the overall running time of the final, finished film but unfortunately this meant Bill Maynard, a familiar face in four previous Carry Ons, was removed entirely from Abroad. His role as Kenneth Williams' boss Mr Fiddler completely gone. This decision also resulted in less of Gail Grainger and Patsy Rowlands, which I am sure you agree is an absolute travesty!

I think it's such a terrible shame that so many scenes hit the floor in the editing suite, never to see the light of day again. I guess the production team didn't have the benefit of hindsight as today these off cuts could be doing the rounds for millions of fans to enjoy.

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