Wednesday, 3 May 2017

My Carry On Room 101


Let's play a game of Carry On Room 101. We've all seen the television programme which sees famous faces consign pet hates through the trap door of doom, never to return. Although I love the Carry Ons and will do my best to help keep their fine legacy going strong for many years to come, there will always be certain bum notes (as it were). So here are five of my least favourite Carry On scenes, performances or in some cases, films!

Hope Springs fights with Dawn Brakes, Carry On Girls (1973)

Ah yes the infamous beauty contest fight scene! As regular readers will know I strongly dislike Carry On Girls. In fact I think it's the beginning of the end of the series as we've come to love it. It's cheap, tacky and nearer the knuckle than I'd have liked. It also features Barbara Windsor in my least favourite of all the roles she played in the films. Actors like Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth are given scant attention however the likes of Patsy Rowlands, Kenneth Connor and Joan Hickson still put in tremendous performances, far better than the film they find themselves signed on to make. The fight scene between Barbara and Margaret Nolan is played with real relish by the actresses involved but for me, it's too far and tips the scales into the kind of film the Carry Ons were never meant to be. Maggie Nolan was the ultimate professional during these scenes, especially considering she was pregnant at the time. 


Harriet proves she's not Dick, Carry on Dick (1974)

Sorry, I'm afraid it's Dame Barbara again in another scene which took things too far for my liking. By the mid 1970s Barbara was probably the most high profile of the Carry On team and she grabbed the most screen time in her last two films, Girls and this Dick Turpin adventure. For some reason the likes of Hattie, Joan and Patsy Rowlands were almost sidelined in favour of Barbara's considerable attributes. And these attributes were front and centre once again in a sequence which sees her character remove almost all to prove she's not Dick (as it were). Very little is left to the imagination and there was really no need to take things that far. Were the Carry Ons still entertainment for all the family by '74? The jury is out on that one... 


Carry On England (1976)

Yes I'm putting the entire film into my Room 101. In my opinion the series should have come to an end after Carry On Behind made in 1975. Despite the departure of several key contributors (Sid, Barbara, Hattie and writer Talbot Rothwell) Behind is actually a half decent Carry On and probably the best of the later films. England is a different kettle of fish entirely. The film is woeful on every level. The cast features a host of new faces ill equipped to tackle Carry On comedy and those few familiar faces present are miscast or shamefully underused. The script is short on laughs and familiar Carry On situations and it's written by two newcomers to the world of Carry On. They may have had experience elsewhere but once again they showed just what a craftsman Talbot Rothwell was. Finally England features some scenes of a dubious nature featuring some of the younger female members of the cast. By this stage the Carry Ons were playing catch up with the Confessions films when they should really have stayed out of that particular race.


Kenneth's Emile Prevert, Carry On Emmannuelle (1978)

I love Kenneth Williams and his contribution to the Carry On films cannot be underestimated. Along with Joan Sims, Kenneth was the most loyal of all the team. He was in the very first in the series and stayed with the films until the end of the original run in 1978. Carry On Emmannuelle was a desperate last gasp for the franchise and an attempt to keep the films going at a time when sex definitely sold and the British film industry was in the doldrums. While Emmannuelle is actually not as bad as the previous film, Carry On England, it should still never have been made. Connor, Sims, Butterworth and most of all Kenneth Williams, are well out of their comfort zone and it shows. Kenneth puts in a painfully uncomfortable performance as Emile and obviously hated every minute. His diaries show he was doubtful about taking the part on but was eventually signed up out of loyalty to Peter Rogers and particularly, to Gerald Thomas. He should have stayed well clear.

Carry On Columbus (1992)

The much-discussed attempt to relaunch the Carry Ons in a new era, Columbus was pretty much an abject failure. Although it provided one last glimpse at genuine Carry On legends in the form of Bernard Cribbins, June Whitfield, Leslie Phillips, Jack Douglas and Jim Dale, throwing modern day alternative comedians into the mix was a gamble that didn't pay off. There was some terrific talent on display in the film but once again all it did was highlight that these new faces just couldn't play the comedy like the old legends. Columbus, although written by Dave Freeman, was not a good script. Freeman was forced to rush out a treatment in under two weeks and it showed. Above all else the film badly missed the towering comedy talents of James, Hawtrey, Sims, Williams, Butterworth and the rest. 


So there you have it. Five of my least favourite Carry On moments, all of which I'd happily consign to Room 101. I don't often write negatively about my beloved Carry On films but not even Peter and Gerald could crack it every time! That being said, given their phenomenal output over a twenty year period, it's quite something that these were the only negatives I could find.

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