Monday 9 July 2018

Carrying On with a … Doctor At Sea!

This is part of a brand new series of blogs looking back at the wonderful series of British comedy films - the Doctor … series. There were seven Doctor films produced at Pinewood Studios between 1954 and 1970, all with Betty Box and Ralph Thomas at the helm. With Betty being Peter Rogers' wife and Ralph the brother of Gerald Thomas, there were bound to be a fair few Carry On connections.

These medical comedy films were extremely popular at the time and while perhaps they do not have the lasting appeal of the Carry Ons, there is no doubting their classic status. Always looking more lavish than their sister films in the Pinewood stable, they did share a cosy ensemble feel with many familiar faces appearing again and again over the years.

So let's continue today by looking at the follow up to the hugely successful Doctor In The House, the 1955 film Doctor At Sea. 

What's it about?

With a view to escaping his employers' daughter, who has amorous designs on him, Dr Simon Sparrow (Bogarde) signs on as medical officer on a cargo ship, "SS Lotus". The ship is commanded by hot-tempered and authoritarian Captain Wentworth Hogg.
Sparrow overcomes initial seasickness and settles into life on board. After arriving in a South American port (unspecified, but possibly in Ecuador), Sparrow meets Hélène Colbert , a sexy young French nightclub singer.
The misogynist Captain Hogg is forced to take on two female passengers, Muriel Mallet, the daughter of the chairman of the shipping company, and her friend, Hélène, for the return trip. Romance blossoms between Simon and Hélène, and when they reach home, Helene receives a telegram offering her a job. She and Sparrow return together.
Throughout the trip, Hogg has been romanced by Muriel and eventually becomes engaged to her - with almost certain promotion to Commodore.

Who's in it?

Dirk Bogarde stars once again as Simon Sparrow, indeed he is the only actor from the original film to reprise the same role. James Robertson Justice also returns but in the different role of Captain Hogg. 

Also starring is Brenda De Banzie as Muriel Mallet and a certain Brigitte Bardot as Helene Colbert. Familiar character actor Maurice Denham also appears as Steward Easter.

Carry On faces?

Joan Sims is back for her second outing in a Doctor film, this time playing unlucky in love Wendy, who takes rather a shine to Dr Sparrow! Playing Wendy's mother is the actress Joan Hickson, another face making a return appearance.

Carry On Nurse guest star Michael Medwin grabs a leading role as Sub-lietenant Trail while  Carry On Constable supporting actress Jill Adams plays the aptly named Jill. Returning after the first film the previous year is reliable supporting actor Cyril Chamberlain, here playing Whimble. 

Also keep your eyes peeled for the legendary Fred Griffiths in an uncredited role as a Seaman and apparently also future Carry On Teacher and Cathy Come Home star Carol White in an uncredited bit role.

Did you know? 

Doctor At Sea was Brigitte Bardot's first ever English speaking film.

The film was nominated for a 1956 BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay.

Doctor At Sea was the third most popular film at the British Box Office in 1955, after The Dam Busters and White Christmas. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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