CARRY ON GIRLS (1973) AND CARRY ON LOVING (1970): A DELIGHTFULLY SAUCY DOUBLE BILL OF CARRY ON NAUGHTINESS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
My kids and I were discussing lately the indisputable fact that you probably couldn’t make films like these nowadays, crammed as they are with sexism, racism, gay-ism and probably a few more ‘isms’ you could care to name as well.
Then, as we always do, we ended the discussion by thanking our lucky stars that these outrageously funny films were made, and by being utterly convinced that the ‘isms’ they contain are all just good clean harmless fun, the kind that’s sadly in short supply nowadays. The kind where we laugh at ourselves and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Moral lecture over for now, lol. CARRY ON GIRLS and CARRY ON LOVING both star the inimitable Sid James, the star of the whole series, really, in the roles he seems to play in every film: the cheeky chappie, the wide boy, the sex-mad ringleader of something or other, with the mucky laugh and an inability to ignore a good opportunity to make a few quick and easy bucks, whether it’s from a horse, a dog or a beauty queen contest down at the seaside. In fact, Sid’s persona can be summed up in one succinct sentence: he’s always on the make, and his targets are usually women or money.
Imagine his delight when he discovers that he can combine his two loves in one event: the aforementioned beauty queen contest in the rather kippy little seaside town of Fircombe, where it rains more often than not and the tourists flock away from the place in their droves.
This film, of course, is CARRY ON GIRLS, in which the aptly-named Sid Fiddler, as a local councillor, comes up with the rather genius idea of holding a beauty contest in the town hall as a way of bringing the crowds (and their open wallets) to Fircombe.
Enter the girls: among others, the dynamic little pocket rocket that is Hope Springs, played by Barbara Windsor, the fluffy blonde who actually at times seems like the female version of Sid, they’re so well suited to each other, with matching dirty laughs and an ability to find the dirty double meaning in every sentence every uttered; the pneumatic Dawn Brakes (Margaret Nolan), with the most magnificent knockers in Christendom, whose half-nudie catfight with Hope Springs over a silver bikini is the highlight of the film; Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler from EASTENDERS) as Ida Downes; the utterly sublime Valerie Leon (also a Hammer beauty) as the sultry Paula Perkins; and the luscious Bernard Bresslaw as, erm, the equally sultry Patricia Potter… Just don’t ask…! Jokes about ‘bristols’ abound in possibly the most booby-filled of the CARRY ON series.
Of course, the feminists of Fircombe, led by June Whitfield as the morally upright Mrs. Prodworthy, vow to do their utmost to sabotage the disgusting cattle market Sid calls a beauty contest, that’s if they can’t scupper it altogether.
Sid’s long-suffering girlfriend, Joan Sims as hotel-owner Connie Philpotts, is none too happy about the contest either. She knows that putting Sid at the centre of the beauty contest is like letting a fly loose on an open pot of jam. The stage is (literally) set for some thrills… and spills…!
In CARRY ON LOVING, everyone, it seems, is doing it; sex, that is. It’s the very early ‘Seventies, just after the swinging ‘Sixties have exited stage left, the permissive society has taken over the country and the air is positively throbbing with lust for one’s fellow man… and woman…!
Sid and Hattie Jacques play Sidney and Sophie Bliss, a married couple (except they’re not really married) who run a marriage bureau together. Sid uses the bureau as his own personal dating agency; he’s having a raging affair with Joan Sims as Esme Crowfoot which doesn’t at all escape Sophie’s notice.
Sophie only stays because Sid dangles marriage in front of her like a carrot to a donkey, but does he have any intention of ever coming good on his promises? Only time, and maybe Gripper Burke, Esme’s wrestler lover, will tell…
Terry Scott, one half of TERRY AND JUNE with June Whitfield, is initially peed off at being set up with Imogen Hassall as Jenny Grubb, until Jenny undergoes the most amazing transformation from drab, bespectabled spinster-of-this-parish to boobylicious model in a tiny buttercup-yellow dress. ‘Have you had it?’ ‘Chance’d be a fine thing…!’
Richard O’Callaghan as Bertram Muffet, the softy who makes model aeroplanes out of milk bottle tops, comes up trumps with Jacki Piper as stunning nudie model, Sally Martin, and Sophie Bliss, Sid’s much-put-upon girlfriend-slash-dogsbody, decides that she herself is the best choice of wife for Kenneth Williams’s Percival Snooper, the ‘sexually backward’ marriage guidance counsellor who comes to the agency looking for a soulmate.
Patsy Rowlands puts on a show-stopping performance here as Miss Dempsey, the faithful housekeeper who’s secretly desperately in love with Percival Snooper, her employer for years, and who intends to fight for his love. Dirty fighting, too, if necessary…
In CARRY ON GIRLS, she was terrific too as the downtrodden, toilet-needing wife of Fircombe’s leading citizen, Kenneth Connor as Mayor Frederick Bumble. Charles Hawtrey is brilliant here too as the private detective hired by Sophie Bliss to keep an eye on Sid. ‘Excuse me, but I am not spoking much English…!’
So there you go. It’s all boobs, butts, legs, cheeky double entendres, blatant sexism, slapstick comedy and some of Britain’s best-loved performers of all time acting their hearts out in some of Britain’s favourite ever films. Don’t say that the CARRY ON films are a menace to society. Take them and love them for what they are: a product of their time, and some of the best fun you can have sitting down. Over and out.
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 Film-Making. 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: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
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