The “Carry On” film series is a British institution, 32 films that were made from 1958 to 1978 (with a brief return in 1992) they are an example of a bye gone era. A time of music halls and saucy postcards they are the product of a country coming out of a very dark post war time into a brave new world of sexual freedom and revolution.
And we were led there through low budget comedies full of double meanings, filthy laughs and Barbara Windsors breasts.
So I figured it only right that I pay tribute to these often forgotten gems in my blog, by watching and then reviewing all these movies. Because of the sheer size of the series (the second longest franchise ever) I can’t promise it will be weekly or in chronological order (which doesn’t actually matter here) but I will give you a heads up before hand so that if you like you can watch them with me.
But first a little background.
32 films meant a lot of folks came and went with the series but most of the films starred a core cast of actors. Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor, Hattie Jacques, Bernard Bresslaw, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey, Peter Butterworth, Kenneth Conner and Jim Dale. Although that core cast played many a varied character you could always rely on certain recurring traits. Williams would be an upper class prude, James would be a working man with a dirty laugh, Hawtrey a drunk, Dale the young hero, Bresslaw the hapless sidekick to James and Jacques an overbearing Matron, to name but a few. Another constant theme would be the name of Sid James’ character which would inevitably be Sid something (my favorite being Sir Sidney Rough-Diamond, in Carry on up the Khyber) and his desire to ether jump into bed with Windsor or Sims.
But what makes these films so great is that as British as they are every single film in the series takes a light hearted jab at their home nation. The NHS, the monarchy, the Empire and even trade unions all had there time in the Carry On spotlight, quite often riding on the coat-tails (and using the same sets*) of more serious films on the subject. Nothing and no one was safe from having the piss taken firmly out of them.
Well that’s it for the preamble. Next week I will be back with my first entry in the series – Carry on Abroad.
*Carry on Cleo for example used the same sets and costumes as the Burton Taylor Cleopatra film made in the same year.