Tuesday 20 November 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: Two Way Stretch

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 the 1960 classic British comedy, Two Way Stretch.

What's it about?

Three prisoners nearing the end of their jail sentences; 'Dodger' Lane, 'Jelly' Knight and 'Lennie the Dip', are visited by a vicar seeking to find employment for them. He is actually smooth-talking conman 'Soapy' Stevens, who proposes a large-scale diamond robbery. They will also have the ultimate alibi; they will break out of prison, commit the robbery and then break back in.
With the assistance of Dodger's girlfriend Ethel and Lennie's mum, they smuggle themselves out in a prison van. The operation is almost foiled by the disciplinarian 'Sour' Crout, the new Chief Prison Officer who is replacing the easy-going retiring Jenkins.
The diamond heist goes like clockwork and the three break back into prison, hiding the proceeds in the Governor's office. When they 'officially' leave prison, they manage to take the loot with them. All goes well, until the sack of diamonds is lost on a train. Stevens is recognised and arrested, but the others get away – minus the diamonds.

Who's in it?
Leading a wonderful cast of British comedy talent is Peter Sellers as Dodger Lane. His fellow cons are played by Bernard Cribbins (Lennie The Dip Price) and David Lodge as Jelly Knight. Also look out for the legendary Wilfrid Hyde-White as Soapy Stevens and the peerless Lionel Jeffries as Prison Officer 'Sour' Crout! 

Carry On Faces?

Plenty! As I've already mentioned, there are starring roles for Bernard Cribbins and David Lodge as members of Peter Sellers' gang. Bernard would go on to star in Carry On Jack, Spying and Columbus while David Lodge cropped up in supporting roles in Regardless, Girls, Dick, Behind and England, as well as many episodes of Carry On Laughing for ATV in 1975. Carry On Nurse guest star Wilfrid Hyde-White also stars here as the aforementioned Soapy Stevens.

Having proved a winning double act in 1959's I'm All Right Jack, Irene Handl and the late Liz Fraser were back for Two Way Stretch. Irene, who had cameos in Carry On Nurse and Constable plays Mrs Price while Liz, seen in Regardless, Cruising, Cabby and Behind, plays Ethel. Carry On Emmannuelle guest star Beryl Reid pops up in the small role of Miss Pringle while Carry On Jack actor George Woodbridge appears as Chief Prison Officer Jenkins.

There are also small roles for Carry On regular Cyril Chamberlain as Gate Warder - Day, Carry On Cleo actor Warren Mitchell as a Tailor and Ian Wilson, who had small roles in the likes of Carry On Regardless, Cabby, Jack and Cleo, as a Milkman.

Did you know?

The film was the fourth most popular film at the British Box Office in 1960.

Liz Fraser later described Two Way Stretch as one her favourites of all the films she made during her long career.

Liz couldn't yet drive when making this film and during scenes involving the Aston Martin, she kept stalling the car, so in the end ropes had to be used to pull the car out of shot.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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