Friday 16 September 2016

Hattie Carries On ... as Laura Moon


Having covered every one of Joan Sims' 24 Carry On roles it now only seems fair that I turn the spotlight onto another great and loyal member of the team. Sticking with the wonderful women, I've decided to focus on all 14 of Hattie Jacques' Carry On appearances. Hattie's contribution to Carry On comedy was immense. Although appearing in far fewer films that Joan, Hattie created some iconic roles, none more so that the infamous Matron, a character which came to dominate her later career.

However there was far more to Jacques than that. She played Matron in all four of the medical films but there were ten other roles to enjoy too, from a budgie obsessed housewife to an angry, aggressive Spanish cook! So sit back and enjoy a run of blogs which looks at Hattie's Carry On contribution from the very first film in 1958 right through to her last supporting role in Carry On Dick 16 years later. So let's continue our journey today with a look back at Hattie's fourth role in the series, as Sergeant Laura Moon in Carry On Constable


Carry On Constable saw the film franchise go from strength to strength with Norman Hudis continuing along a similar theme from previous series entries by tackling the funny side in yet another great British institution - this time the police force. The basic plot of Constable sees a flu epidemic bring a group of inexperienced, accident prone and rather bumbling new recruits to the station run by the firm but fair Sergeant Frank Wilkins (Sid James in his first ever Carry On role). The action revolves around the comedic exploits of Leslie Phillips, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Connor and Kenneth Williams with Sid and Eric Barker as the long suffering figures of authority.

It all hangs together very well and with plenty of location work in and around Ealing in West London, it's an action-packed comedy which fairly whips along. Joan Sims is also on hand to provide suitably glamorous support as an eager and intelligent WPC, Gloria Passworthy while original Carry On girl Shirley Eaton pops up for her third and final appearance in a brief cameo opposite Leslie Phillips. So what about Hattie? Well she appears as Sergeant Laura Moon, an effective but smaller supporting role than Jacques had enjoyed in the previous couple of films.

While much of the action takes place out on location, Hattie's Laura Moon is restricted to the police station - the furthest she gets is the canteen! Despite this, Hattie is on fine form and most of her work involves the debuting Sid and the lovely Kenneth Connor. There is a gentle, affectionate slow burning romantic interlude between Sid and Hattie in Constable and it's the first of many occasions we would see the pair working so successfully together in a Carry On. Sid and Hattie have great chemistry - they already knew each other from their time working on radio with Tony Hancock. They would go on to work often together in the films, probably most successfully as Charlie and Peggy Hawkins in Carry On Cabby. More of that another day! 


The scenes between Sid's Frank Wilkins and Hattie's Laura Moon as beautifully played and touchingly real. What starts off as mutual respect and a professional kindness soon develops into something deeper when it appears that Wilkins' unsympathetic superior, Inspector Mills (Eric Barker) might transfer him elsewhere. By the end of the film it becomes clear that the pair are destined for a lot more and it's lovely to see them both share such relaxed, genuine scenes before the camp madness of later films took hold!

Laura Moon also has several important scenes with Kenneth Connor, as the hapless Charlie Constable. The highly superstitious Constable is letting his strange beliefs get in the way of a possible romance with Sims' Gloria Passworthy. Moon gets involved, giving Hattie ample opportunity to demonstrate her effectiveness at combining fairly stern authority with a delightful touch of humanity and pathos. All is well in the end with Laura's careful meddling paying off!

There is one further scene of note. For a film in which the male characters tend to dominate, there's a great early scene featuring the arrival of Joan Sims' rather competitive new WPC. Joan has brought in a rather tipsy, troublesome Mrs May (brilliantly played by Joan HIckson) and the three actresses show what quality they were! There is also a hint of rivalry as Mrs May points out that Passworthy is so on the ball she may have Sergeant Moon's job! It's a lovely moment and I only wish there had been more scenes of Joan and Hattie together in Constable.


So there we have it, Hattie excelling once again in an eye-catching supporting role. Next up, Hattie's rather brief supporting turn as Sister in Carry On Regardless. More on that soon!

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