Thursday 17 November 2016

Fenella Fielding's Finest Hour

This new series of blogs is my personal take on the scenes that show our Carry On favourites at their very best. It's purely to my own taste and you'll all have your own suggestions on this subject, but for me these are the best comedy actors at their very best. They are their finest hours.

Today I am continuing this series with another iconic performance. Fenella Fielding quite simply owns Carry On Screaming and it has justly become her most famous role in a long and incredibly diverse acting career. While some might berate the film for dominating a career and limiting opportunities elsewhere, thankfully Miss Fielding is always delightfully affectionate about and revels in the attention it still provides for her fifty years on. Screaming is quite simply one of the very best Carry Ons ever made. The script, the performances, the quality of the sets, the whole production is superb. 

In a cast bursting with classic comedy performances, including the likes of guest star Harry H Corbett as well as series regulars Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Angela Douglas and a knock out cameo from Charles Hawtrey, Fenella shines through as the star. In a tight-fitting red velvet dress, with deathly white make up and her long dark hair, the voluptuous Fielding provides a smokily seductive performance. She is a joy opposite her old revue colleague Kenneth Williams as a pair of bickering siblings and enjoys romantic interludes with Corbett, Dale and Bernard Bresslaw. She's a busy girl!


I think her finest hour on film comes with her initial seduction of Harry H Corbett's Sergeant Bung. The scene is ripe with innuendo and encrusted with double meanings. Bung's attempt to get straight answers from the lady of the house fall on deaf ears as she bewitches and bewilders him. It really is two top actors at the height of their powers. I do believe Harry H was a genius and should have received more plaudits during his acting career. He's a natural leading man in this film but Fenella matches him all the way. 

Of course the scene culminates in one of the most notoriously glorious Carry On denouements as Fenella reclines in her velvet dress on the sofa and asks Corbett "Do you mind if I smoke?" This is accompanied by several smoke machines hidden from view, belching out theatrical smoke effect, to delicious effect! Fenella's reaction shots are so amazing it's hard to find the words for them! As the smoke fills the screen and the music rises, Fenella Fielding's position as one of the most memorable queens of classic British cinema is assured. It's the height of comedy horror production and for me, it's never been bettered. 

The scene and that infamous line have become so iconic that it is even the title of Fenella's new audio book of memoirs! You can find out more about that here

Thanks Fenella! 


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