CARRY ON ENGLAND. (1976) DIRECTED BY GERALD THOMAS. STARRING KENNETH CONNOR, WINDSOR DAVIES, PATRICK MOWER, JUDY GEESON, JOAN SIMS, PETER BUTTERWORTH, JACK DOUGLAS, MELVYN HAYES AND DIANE LANGTON. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. © ‘Sergeant Major, some of those men are wearing skirts!’ ‘They is not men, sir. They is… women…!’ This is the 28 th film in the original 30 CARRY ON films, and there are people who say it’s not very good and even a bit silly to boot. Okay, so it’s by no means perfect and it’s missing some of our favourite CARRY ON stars, like Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams, Bernard Bresslaw, Barbara Windsor and Jim Dale, but it’s still worth a watch as part of the canon, even if you only watch it once. The action takes places in an army barracks in the English countryside during the part of World War Two when Hitler was bombing the bejeesus out of poor old Blighty. It’s kind of an experimental barracks which accommodates both male and female soldiers, and that’s the main reason the regiment stationed there is an absolute shambles. The recruits there are lazy, slipshod, slapdash, haphazard and hopeless. They report sick whenever there’s work to be done. They like a nice lie-in of a morning, and they clearly hope to just sit out the rest of the war in their nice cosy little country barracks without having to lift a finger or squeeze so much as a single trigger. That shouldn’t be too hard, as they appear to be a barracks without any weaponry or ammunition whatsoever… Of course, the main source of distraction for every soldier in the platoon is the close proximity of the opposite sex. The males and females are all over each other like a bad case of poison ivy. There’s nookie going on morning, noon and night, in the barracks, on parade and in the air raid shelter known as ‘the snoggery.’ The name says it all. The sex-obsessed soldiers just can’t stop fondling their privates. And their corporals, and their sergeants, and their bombardiers… Then, Captain S. Melly (yeah, yeah, we get it, lol), played by a diminutive and moustached Kenneth Connor, is appointed to this barracks as the new head honcho. He seems completely thrown by the presence of women in the barracks. It’s obvious he’s never had to handle a platoon of feisty females before, females with, erm, protruding front things and knickers and, ah, what do they keep under their knickers again, Sergeant Major…?! You get the point... With the help of Sergeant Major ‘Tiger’ Bloomer, played by the wonderful Windsor Davies in pretty much the exact same role he was playing at the time in long-running British-Army-in-India sitcom IT AIN’T HALF HOT, MUM, Captain Smelly sets about trying to be the new broom that sweeps clean. It’s not an easy job… Poor Captain Smelly. He’s thwarted at every turn by the idle, shiftless soldiers, who would make great army personnel if they put even half the same effort into their work as they do into their schemes to avoid work. Even Sgt. Major Bloomer, a true army hard-ass, doesn’t like to push his men- and women!- into working too hard, as it just makes them cranky and harder to deal with…! Call this an army, lol. Led by Patrick Mower (THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, Rodney from EMMERDALE) as Sergeant Len Able, the recruits are much more interested in working out how to get into each other’s quarters at night, after Captain Smelly bans the sexes from ‘mingling,’ than they are in fighting Hitler. There’s a Sergeant Tilly Willing and a Bombardier Ready as well, by the way, in addition to a Private Alice Easy, a sort of bargain basement Barbara Windsor-type character…! The shit hits the fan- most of it ends up on Captain Smelly, sadly- when a visiting Brigadier and Major find the barracks sorely lacking in order and fighting spirit. Suddenly, an air attack from Goering’s Luftwaffe threatens the very existence of the barracks. Will Smelly’s men- and women- step up to the plate and fight bravely for Merrie Olde Englande, for King and Country? Will old Smelly be proud of his privates at long last…? Will he want to toast his privates in the mess with a magnum of champers? Will he be overcome with an urge to pat his privates lovingly on their person and tell them he’s inordinately proud of them? (I should probably stop this now…!) It remains to be seen, people. I love that Melvyn Hayes from IT AIN’T HALF HOT, MUM plays a similar role here as Gunner ‘short-arse’ Shorthouse. A curvaceous Joan Sims has the hots for Sgt. Major Bloomer, who’s not quite sure he’s man enough for her, and Johnny Briggs, aka Mike Baldwin from long-running soap, CORONATION STREET, turns up in the beginning of the film to drive Captain Smelly to his new camp. My son, incidentally, loves Jack Douglas, whom he calls ‘the Tourettes Man’ because of his hilarious twitching and random-word-saying. I love the scene where Joan Sims’s Jennifer Ffoukes-Sharpe makes short work of Peter Butterworth’s Major Carstairs with a few slick manoeuvres, and the one in which Captain Smelly accidentally morphs into Adolf Hitler. Deutschland uber alles, eh what…?
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: