Tuesday 3 July 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: Percy's Progress

Here we go with another in my series of blogs looking at some of the cream of British comedy film making from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Although this blog is all about the Carry Ons, believe it or not, there were some other joyous comedy films made away from Peter Rogers Productions. However, given the quality of the actors Peter employed to make his series, it's no wonder that most of them popped up elsewhere.

So far I've looked at the wonderful 1959 crime caper Too Many Crooks , the 1954 domestic comedy starring Dirk Bogarde, For Better For Worse , the big screen spin off Please Sir! and the wonderful Up Pompeii and the brilliant John Gregson and Diana Dors vehicle, Value for Money. 
More recently I blogged about the Sid James and Kenneth Connor comedy horror What A Carve Up! and the the Gordon Jackson drama, Floodtide. 

I've also looked at the Carry On links with the wonderful film I'm All Right Jack

Recently I blogged about the Billy Fury and Amanda Barrie musical film I've Gotta Horse , the classic 1954 school comedy The Belles of St Trinian's and the 1959 romantic comedy from the Betty Box and Ralph Thomas stable, Upstairs and Downstairs. You can also check out my blog on the 1956 drama Lost

Today I am going to write about a 1974 comedy sequel which saw one of the last films from a producer-director double act of legendary proportions (Betty Box/Ralph Thomas) : Percy's Progress.

What's it about?

Percy is well known in England as the man who had the world's first penis transplant, and is exceptionally well endowed. His rampant conquests of married women cause him to escape incarceration by local authorities.
A chemical is accidentally released into the world's water supply rendering all men impotent. Percy is unaware that he is the only man on earth who can achieve an erection because he was in hiding from the law at sea, drinking nothing but champagne.
When Percy goes ashore to relieve his year-long sexual tension at a brothel, he garners the attention of the British press and subsequently the British government, who then want to use him to repopulate the world. An international pageant is held to find each country's "Miss Conception" representative. At the same time, a team of doctors work to find an antidote to the effects of "P.S.- 123".

Who's in it?

Leigh Lawson heads the cast as Percy. Other well known actors to appear include Denholm Elliott as Sir Emmanuel Whitbread, Vincent Price as Stavos Mammonian, Julie Ege as Miss Hanson, Ronald Fraser as Bleeker and Anthony Andrews as Catchpole. 

Carry On Faces?

Many! Although playing a different character in the previous Percy film, Elke Sommer is back for the sequel this time playing Clarissa. She would lead the cast of Carry On Behind the following year. Another future one off Carry On star to appear in this film is Judy Geeson as Dr Fairweather. Judy would go on to star in Carry On England in 1976.

Carry On Screaming star Harry H Corbett co-stars as the Prime Minister (a spoof of Harold Wilson if ever there was one!). Elke's Carry On Behind colleague Adrienne Posta also co-stars here as PC 217 (Iris). And look out for that wonderful Irish actor Milo O'Shea playing Dr Klein. Nearly ten years before he had the supporting role of Len in my favourite Carry On, Carry On Cabby.

Carry On Matron cameo player Madeline Smith makes another guest appearance in this film, as Miss UK. Gertan Klauber, a small part player in several Carry Ons, also pops up playing Pablo. Two other Carry On faces making small, uncredited appearances in Percy's Progress are Norman Chappell as a Valet and who else but Marianne Stone playing a Reporter.

And before I go, there is of course much glamorous support from a bevy of lovely actresses. Carry On Abroad and Behind star Carol Hawkins plays Maggie; Carry On Dick Bird of Paradise Penny Irving crops up as Chiquita and future Carry On England actress Diane Langton takes the role of Maureen Sugden. Also look out for Carry On Blogging favourite, the actress Judy Matheson, who plays Maria. 

Did you know?

In the United States, the film was released as It's Not the Size that Counts.

Leigh Lawson replaced Hywel Bennett, who had played Percy in the original film of that name three years before. Bennett did not want to reprise the role.

Harry H. Corbett also co-wrote the film, along with Ian La Frenais and Sid Colin (who had contributed to the script of Carry On Spying in 1964). 

Betty Box said they only agreed with Nat Cohen to make a sequel to Percy if he financed The Reckless Years, a film of the Byron-Shelley story. However, Cohen reneged on the deal once Percy's Progress was made.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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