We’re continuing the Carry On blog series today with Carry On Nurse (1959), which officially was the 2nd film of the funny British series!
Producer Peter Rogers, director Gerald Thomas, and screenwriter Norman Hudis reunited themselves after the success of Carry On Sergeant (1958) to create another one of these highly amusing films. This time, instead of the army, the background to the story is a hospital.
The film doesn’t follow one storyline but many. Overall, it is about the various misadventurs of a hospital, opposing the nurses and their (naughty) male patients. Among them, there’s Ted York (Terence Longdon), a journalist with an appendicitis; Bernie Bishop (Kenneth Connor), a boxer with a broken hand; the “Colonel” (Wilfrid Hyde-White), a gamble; Mr. Hinton (Charles Hawtrey) who just listens to radio all day with his headphones; intellectual Oliver Reckitt (Kenneth Williams); Percy Hickson (Bill Owen) who has a broken leg; Jack Bell (Leslie Phillips) who has a bunion on his foot and is in a hurry to have it removed, etc. The medical staff is composed of Nurse Dorothy Denton (Shirley Eaton), Matron (Hattie Jacques), Nurse Stella Dawson (Joan Sims), Sister (Joan Hickson), Nurse Nightingale (Rosalind Knight), etc.
I must admit that I didn’t laugh as much while watching this film than I did with Carry On Sergeant but, nevertheless it hadn’t lost the dynamic touch that makes these films so entertaining. Well, I guess, otherwise, it wouldn’t have been made into a series! It was a real pleasure, however, to see the familiar faces of Carry On Sergeant and hearing the same music in the opening titles. You know, because of the recurrent actors, it almost feels as if the Carry On films were actually a TV series but with the actors playing different roles in each episode! Wait, I know there was a Carry On TV series, but you know what I mean. Kenneth Williams pretty much plays the same type of character as he does in Carry On Sergeant, and we could make that comparison too with the characters played by Terence Longdon. Kenneth Connor, however, isn’t the hypochondriac anymore (maybe it would have been a bit too much in a hospital context!). Hattie Jacques as Matron is that woman who is impressive but who inspires respect and a has good heart. Shirley Eaton embodies the nurse’s professionalism and patience (!). The film introduced the sparkling Joan Sims to the series and the charmer Leslie Phillips.
If I didn’t think that Carry On Nurse was as amusing and maybe not as endearing as Carry On Sergeant, however, one can’t deny its ability at racy humour. Ouhh, there is some hot stuff in there! Just to give you an example:
Boxer Bernie Bishop is about to go to bed after having been put a bandage on his hand. Two nurses are taking care of him, helping him to put his pyjamas. Then comes the time to remove his boxing underwear.
Nurse (about to remove them): Now then.
Bishop (trying to stop her): Hey, what?! What! What!
Nurse: Surely you can’t sleep in those?
Bishop (a bit embarrassed): That’s quite alright. I can, euh, take them off.
Nurse: With one hand?
Bishop: Yeah, yeah, I can manage, thank you. Would you ladies just turn your back, please?
[The two nurses look at each other with a look of complicity and they remove the short together to his big surprise.]
Bishop: Hey! What’s going on! [rushes in bed] You cant! What a sauce! Nurse, please! Ohh I’m cold!
Nurse: Well, what a fuss about such a little thing.
You know what I mean?
Poor guy! His smile of apologies soon becomes the face of a man who tries to keep his dignity.
Or when this nurse is putting lotion on him and he obviously has difficulty to “concentrate”
Well, of course, these films really need not to be taken to the first degree. But I guess that’s what I liked about them. They were very risky for the time-period in which they were made which actually make these scenes even more noticeable. I mean, the same scene in a 2000s movie wouldn’t have had the same impact.
Carry On Sergeant was a financial success on its release, but Carry On Nurse was even more successful. (1) Not only it was #1 at the British box office in 1959, but also the most successful film of the series. (2) The film was not only popular in England, but also in the United States where it was screened for three consecutive years after its original release.(3) The reviews were mixed (4), but then, what can you expect?
What particularly marked people at the time was probably, most of all, the final scene that gave popularity to daffodils! But then, I’ll let you discover all that by yourself by watching the film!
Next one: Carry On Teacher! I took way too many screenshots of the actors’ priceless facial expressions. Prepare yourself.
See you soon!
Want to follow that series closely? Make sure to take a look at my other reviews!
(1) Sergio Angelini. “Carry On Nurse (1958).” BFI Screen Online, nd. http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/466409/index.html. Accessed Oct. 2, 2019.
(2) “Carry On Nurse: Trivia.” IMDB, nd. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051452/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv. Accessed Oct. 2, 2019.
(3) “Carry On Nurse.” Wikipedia, 27 September, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carry_On_Nurse. Accessed Oct 2, 2019