Are you ready for number three?
When Carry On Teacher was released, in 1959, Carry On was now a trilogy. Oh, but there was much more to come! At this point, I believe people were getting more and more familiar with the concept of Carry On films and expected to see the familiar faces of Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims, Leslie Phillips and Charles Hawtrey. Ted Ray also joined the casting of this film, and I couldn’t be more delighted as I loved him in Please Turn Over! Because these people have the best facial expressions, I took way to many screenshots during my viewing. But we’ll come back to them later.
Carry On Teacher, you’ve guessed it, takes place in a school, more precisely, Maudlin Street Secondary Modern School. Acting headmaster William Wakefield (Ted Ray) is interested in a headmaster post in another school not far from where he was born. When he makes the announcement to his colleagues, these are happy for him and ready to help. However, during the meeting, a student, Robin Stevens (Richard O’Sullivan), listens behind the door and hears the important announcement. He runs to his friends: the situation is serious. Mr Wakefield is highly appreciated by the children of the school, and they have to find a way not to let him go.
Their chance comes with the visit of the Ministry of Education Inspector, Miss Wheeler (Rosalind Knight) and a child psychiatrist, Alistair Grigg (Leslie Phillips). They decide to sabotage the visit with many tricks, at the great despair of their teachers and Mr Wakefield.
Carry On Teacher is less racy than Carry On Nurse and kind of endearing in its own way. I mean, those children are devoted! The film is truffled with a series of gags and we never really know what the children are up to next. Everything becomes a surprise! The real magic of the whole thing, and when everything becomes comedy perfection, isn’t only the gags created by the children but also the way the teachers react to them. Oh, and poor Mr Wakefield observing all this with discouragement and no hope of getting his new job now!
It’s too unfortunate Ted Ray only appeared in this Carry On film because he was a great addition and definitely could have merged into more films of the series. I understand, however, the possibility that some actors maybe didn’t want to be associated only to Carry On films and explore diverse horizons. I believe he also was under contract with another studio.
But we know how the Carry On actors have those perfect facial expressions. And Ted Ray was no exception to the rule:
Perhaps Kenneth William is more often known as the “face of Carry On films” with his unique nasal voice (seriously, I could listen to him all day), his spontaneity, and his scandalized facial expressions. As the English master, Mr Hilton, he confronts the students in an immensely amusing scene when the inspector and the psychiatrist visit the class. They are discussing Romeo and Juliet that they will stage as well. The children have decided to embarrass him with some crunchy questions about the play. For example, they want to know what a marital bed is, and such.
Mr Hilton also has a hard time with Mr Bean (yes, Mr Bean, the music teacher played by the unique Charles Hawtrey. This one is composing the music for the play, but the two teachers each believe that their discipline is the most important artistic aspect. Well, Romeo and Juliet is Romeo and Juliet. But wait till you hear Mr Bean’s composition. You’ll understand better why Mr Hilton didn’t trust him! Hilarious musical moment.
As a matter of fact, Charles Hawtrey was musically trained in real life, which explains him being cast as the music teacher. (1)
When they (Mr Hilton and Mr Bean) are drunk (the children have put alcohol in their tea), they get along!
Kenneth Connor plays Mr Adams, the science teacher who falls in love with Mrs Wheeler. Mr Wakefield has noticed it and decides to use the situation as a tool to persuade Mrs Wheeler of his competences. So, Mr Adams is thrown into the lion cage, and Mr Wakefield expects him to use the power of his charm. The thing is, Mr Adams is shy to talk to her and doesn’t know how to do it due to his scientific mind.
Kenneth Connor was perfect in such a role and was in my favourite part of the film, along with Rosalind Knight. Mr Adams is in the school library with Mrs Wheeler and hopes to share his feelings for her. As he has no idea where to start, he picks Sonnets of Shakespeare on the library shelf and looks into it for inspiration. He asks for Mrs Wheeler’s attention and, as he delivers the lines (without showing that it comes from a book), he creates that perfectly hilarious moment. Why? Because he doesn’t deliver them seductively or romantically, but in a perfectly analytic and scientific way as if he was explaining a mathematical experiment. In a very neutral way, you see. I’m laughing just while writing these lines. It doesn’t seem much, but it’s a series of gags like this that makes the Carry On films unique.
On his side, the suave Leslie Philipps is this usual seducer (he’s very much interested in Mrs Allcock, the gym teacher played by Joan Sims). He and Joan Sims creat a perfect Carry On team!
Mr Grigg sees the behaviour of the children as something positive rather than negative and is mostly amused by the whole thing. I mean, he’s not even angry when he receives a ball on the head!
Math teacher, Mrs Short (Hattie Jacques), won’t take all this nonsense created by the children as she clearly makes them understand but, sooner or later, she inevitably becomes a victim. Everybody does! Well, after all, it’s just a few teachers against a bunch of students. Mrs Strong is the kind of teacher who is firm but fair. She inspires respect but, to what point?
Director Gerald Thomas, producer Peter Rogers, and writer Norman Hudis, once again, managed to make a success out of this film. Variety saluted the stronger storyline and the credibility of the characters (2) (in comparison with the previous Carry On films, I suppose?). The sense of humour was overall noticed by the critics. (3).
Final verdict: I liked it less than Carry On Sergeant, but I liked it more than Carry On Nurse!
Tomorrow, we shall explore Carry On Constable!
Want to follow that series closely? Make sure to take a look at my other reviews!
(1)- “Carry On Teacher:Trivia.” IMDB, nd. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052676/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv. Accessed Oct 3, 2019.
(2) “Carry On Teacher.” Wikipedia, 18 August 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carry_On_Teacher. Accessed Oct 3, 2019.