"Sid James is Silenus... Barbara Windsor is Aphrodite. Hattie Jacques is Athena."
April 18, 2008 5:32 AM   Subscribe

The Carry On films have been a much-loved part of British life for the last 50 years, and they may even be making a new one. This give a quick feel of what you might of missed (slightly NSFW) And though it does have its knockers, one person liked them so much he made a religion out of them, literally.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Dig. Do they have the series on DVD?

Oh, and do you limeys pronounce it "lit-rah-lee"? The thought of that made me wince a little.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:57 AM on April 18, 2008

those do look awesome.
posted by garlic at 6:04 AM on April 18, 2008

Excellent post, faithful!
(I've had a nasty little crush on Babs Windsor for yeeeears!)
Carry on.
posted by Dizzy at 6:07 AM on April 18, 2008

Lots of "British celebrities" in that montage.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:09 AM on April 18, 2008

"knockers" Good one.

That critique makes a good point, but then misuses it. Isn't holding a mirror up to your misery and laughing usually a good thing?

That said, these don't look that funny, although I'm sure they are awesome if you grew up with them. (As sex ed especially, as one now-adult fan pointed out in the video.)
posted by DU at 6:10 AM on April 18, 2008

Oh God. Carry On films... The one part of British culture I was never able to quite bring myself to enjoy.

Though I did rather enjoy the recent Mitchell & Webb piss-take (NSFW).
posted by slimepuppy at 6:11 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Harry Enfield and the BBC did a nice take off on them in the 1989 Norbert Smith - A Life mockumentary. (Clip starts at 14 second mark, but it works best if you start at the beginning of the series and carry on through all five parts. Well worth the time.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:12 AM on April 18, 2008

(sorry. wasn't thinking.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:18 AM on April 18, 2008

posted by matthewr at 6:26 AM on April 18, 2008

Definition of a censored daily life as a child: having your first erotic feelings to Sid James seducing Babs in Carry on Henry.

Not that I'd know or anything, obviously.
posted by jaduncan at 6:28 AM on April 18, 2008

Excellent post. Carry On is/are/was fantastic, my personal fave (from someone who has all of them!!) is Carry on Screaming. My favourite bit - Kenneth Wiiliams saying "Frying tonight" as he goes into the vat of boiling wax!!

Like trashy comedy? Like trashy films? Like Fenella Fielding in a crushed velvet dress! Like Harry H. Corbett? Like Mummies? Like vampires? Click here!
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 6:41 AM on April 18, 2008

Single Entendre Comedy!
posted by Thoth at 7:16 AM on April 18, 2008

From TFA:

Whenever I see Barbara Windsor's bra bouncing off in Carry On Camping, I wonderunderstand why this is the most successful series of films in British history.

posted by kcds at 7:23 AM on April 18, 2008

Even the mighty Kenneth Williams couldn't save every last one of these films from being utter cack. Not to mention that watching poor old Charles Hawtrey is always too depressing (you can't help but think of him slowly drinking himself to death in Deal, surrounded by his collection of bedsteads, desperately trying to fuck a Royal Marine).
posted by jack_mo at 7:28 AM on April 18, 2008

If you've seen one Carry On film, you've seen them all. Yet for some reason they made thirty-one.

Is the new one called Carry On Being Dead? If any of the original gang is still alive, they've got to be in their 120's by now.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:55 AM on April 18, 2008

Oh and colonials... the bloke that does the Harry Potter audios in the States, that's Jim Dale, who was the romantic lead in many of the Carry Ons. (Of course 'romantic' being a relative term in this case)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:04 AM on April 18, 2008

Man, I've never even heard of these before...

Great post, Fearful!
posted by BobFrapples at 8:25 AM on April 18, 2008

I loved all the reader responses to the Guardian critique -- almost all agreeing the article writer gets it wrong. Carry On is in the tradition of the English seaside naughty postcards and British vaudeville. I find them mostly unfunny but strangely compelling. A bit like Are You Being Served, which I watch in fascination that it can be so bad but its very badness makes me laugh. "Keep your hands off my pussy."
posted by binturong at 8:58 AM on April 18, 2008

A bit like Are You Being Served

Oh great, so Carry On is going to show up as I-know-this-is-high-brow-because-its-British on PBS now?
posted by DU at 9:23 AM on April 18, 2008

Are You Being Served makes Carry On look like Shakespeare... (Wait a minute Carry On is Shakespeare!)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2008

Oh and colonials... the bloke that does the Harry Potter audios in the States, that's Jim Dale,

Thank you, we've met.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:33 AM on April 18, 2008

I love being called a "Colonial".
Makes me feel like I'm on "Battlestar:Galactica".
posted by Dizzy at 2:03 PM on April 18, 2008

That carry on religion link is great. The guy is actually onto something kind of interesting - the various archetypes contained in the Carry On movies, and it reminds me a little of, say, Alan Moore or Grant Morrison talking about whatever fictional universe they're exploring at the time, but the guy goes a couple of steps beyond that and ends up on the wrong side of the crazytown border. That's if he's completely on the level, and i've a horrible idea that he is.

The image of the Howard Hughesesque projector room with the non-stop Carry-On and the bottles of pee will haunt my dreams...

I like his distain for prople who collect memorabilia, or chase actors, or any of that. He just watches the films, forever and ever...

Q: So if I watched all thirty-three Carry On films non-stop I would understand?

A: Yeah. But it wouldn't have to be all thirty-three. At least ten, but not necessarily the full thirty-three.

You know, I really don't think I would. I've an idea of what he's found, but I think your mind has to be broken in a very specific and special way to find it.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on April 18, 2008

Great links, but jack_mo is exactly right, I'm afraid. These films range from the feeble to the embarrassingly poor. They're only funny if you're severely drunk or willingly subtract 50 points from your own IQ. But some posh people think they gain credibility from professing to like them, the way David Cameron chose a Benny Hill record he'd surely never heard before for one of his Desert Island Discs. Or am I missing something?
posted by Phanx at 2:25 PM on April 18, 2008

Ah, see, are you really properly watching them? Back to back and not stopping to go pee or anything?
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on April 18, 2008

A bit like Are You Being Served

Oh great, so Carry On is going to show up as I-know-this-is-high-brow-because-its-British on PBS now?

I don't think, even by the greatest stretch of the imagination, that Are You Being Served - or the Carry On series - could ever be described as "high brow".
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:44 PM on April 18, 2008

I wouldn't think so either, kisch, but PBS is regarded by many, however wrongly, to be a purely upper-crust sort of network, and they've rerun Are You Being Served non-stop for decades, amongst other UK imports as Masterpiece Theatre and The Antiques Roadshow. I can't imagine an American show with so many pussy jokes staying on broadcast television longer than a month.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:42 PM on April 18, 2008

They show Benny fucking Hill don't they? Jesus.
posted by Artw at 10:35 PM on April 18, 2008

You can't blame us for Masterpiece Theatre, that's a US thing.
posted by Mocata at 2:08 AM on April 19, 2008

"...my personal fave (from someone who has all of them!!) is Carry on Screaming. My favourite bit - Kenneth Wiiliams saying "Frying tonight" as he goes into the vat of boiling wax!!", the_very_hungry_caterpillar

I hate the Carry On films, but the_very_hungry_caterpillar is right here. If you have to watch one, make it Carry on Screaming. It has a weird kind of sense to it and is really funny at times.

Fenella Fielding: Do you mind if I smoke?
Detective: Please, go ahead.
Felella Fielding leans back languidly and issues smoke from everywhere under her clothes.

It's also the best shot of the films - not that that is saying much at all.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:19 AM on April 19, 2008

I remember when I was a kid (late 70s) it was an event when a Carry On came on TV. They just seemed like simple fun back then because they viewed life through the lens of 50s/60s/70s working class British culture.

It was fun to us see the French Revolution played out with characters called Citizen Camembert and the Duke de Pommes Frites ("pop it in the basket, I'll read it later"). The American equivalent would be something like the Bill and Ted films I suppose - dumb but fun.

And a lot of the films did have decent plots (Screaming, Don't Lose Your Head, Follow That Camel, Cleo, Cowboy, Khyber) and great character actors (Jim Dale, Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Williams, Bernard Breslaw). But the series became desperate as it got older.

The problem with watching them with modern adult eyes is that all you can really see is the appalling innuendo and embarrassing mid-20th century values. But these films are still fascinating to me because I'm slightly obsessed by 60s and 70s British comedy and the culture of that era with its narrowness and repressiveness, but also its absolute and quite innocent faith in the rightness of British values (see the final scene of Carry On Up the Khyber for more info).

I don't think I'm the only one who's obsessed either, if the recent spate of dramas on BBC4 about tragic 60s/70s comedians is anything to go by.
posted by Summer at 3:50 AM on April 19, 2008

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