Monday 8 October 2018

Catch Two Joan Sims films on Talking Pictures TV this week!

This week the fabulous Talking Pictures TV are showing a couple of vintage British comedy films, both featuring my comedy heroine Joan Sims. The films, both released in 1956, capture Joan on the ascendant. She was yet to be the character comedy star we've come to know and love but was starting to become a very familiar face to cinema goers at the time. She was also making her way in intimate revue, both on the West End stage and in regional theatres. 

For me, as a lifelong fan, it's fascinating to see Joan in smaller film roles in her younger years. I guess it is easy to say in hindsight, but even in these early supporting roles or cameos, Joan's talent and natural flair for comedy shine through. Both films, Dry Rot and Keep It Clean, while perhaps not the finest of their kind, do give Joan valuable early exposure and crucially see her working with actors who would become close colleagues and friends in the years to come. Joan had well and truly arrived!

Dry Rot (1956) - Tuesday 9 October, 7.50am, Talking Pictures TV

Three dodgy bookies, Alf Tubbe (Ronald Shiner), Flash Harry (Sidney James) and Fred Phipps (Brian Rix), plan to rig a horse race by kidnapping the fancied horse and its French jockey. They stay at a country house hotel near the racecourse, run by Colonel and Mrs Wagstaff, where they conceal the horse Sweet Lavender (and later the jockey) in a hidden cellar.
A subplot sees the dimwitted Fred fall in love with the hotel chambermaid Beth (Joan Sims). The title Dry Rot refers to the rotten wood on the hotel stairs, which regularly catches every character unawares.
Dry Rot sees Joan work with the wonderful Sid James for possibly the first time on screen and it was a comedy partnership which would endure for nearly twenty years. Also among the cast is the fantastic Peggy Mount who Joan would go on to star opposite in the classic Mario Zampi comedy The Naked Truth, made the following year. Dry Rot also sees small roles for two small part Carry On players in Fred Griffiths and Wilfrid Brambell.

Keep It Clean (1956) - Thursday 11 October, 9.30am, also on Talking Pictures TV
Advertising agent Bert Lane (Ronald Shiner) plans to market his brother-in-law's Peter's (Colin Gordon) new miracle cleaning machine. However, Bert's boss Mr. Bouncenboy (James Hayter) wants him to advertise Mrs Anstey's famous crumpets, but Bert's cheesecake advertising slogans incur the wrath of Mrs Anstey (Jean Cadell) and her Purity League, as well as his boss.
Once again starring Ronald Shiner, Keep It Clean sees Joan in the supporting role of Violet Tarbottom. The film also co-stars Ursula Howells who would work again with Joan nearly twenty years later in the sparkling Miss Marple adaptation for the BBC, A Murder Is Announced. 

There are a few other Carry On links in Keep It Clean too. The musical score was produced by Bruce Montgomery, the man behind the music of the first six Carry On films. The film also features Carry On Regardless cameo actor Denis Shaw as Slogger O'Reilly, Carry On Sergeant actor Gerald Campion as Rasher, Norman Rossington (Sergeant, Nurse and Regardless) as Arthur, the Bearded Ad Artist (!) and Frank Forsyth as the Inspector at Court. Frank was a familiar supporting actor in several Carry Ons including Nurse, Constable, Cabby and Spying. 

So sit back, relax and enjoy some vintage Joan! 

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