Wow! We’ve already reached the 5th article of this blogging series! And of all the Carry On films, it had to be Carry On Regardless (1961) which I enjoyed immensely. Of course, we still have a lot to explore, but I’m becoming more and more fond of the Carry On franchise. I also want to thank those of you who are following the series! Let’s hope they’ll be even more people in the future!
Carry On Regardless has a less explicit title than the previous ones (it takes its importance at the end, but I won’t tell you more about that). Anyway, the central place of the story is a job agency, Helping Hands, ran by Bert Handy (Sid James) and his secretary, Miss Cooling (Esma Cannon). The story begins in a labour exchange where various individuals are eager to find a job. Not much luck so far. They aren’t aware, yet that Helping Hands is looking at employees for their agency. When one of them, Montgomery Infield-Hopping (Terence Longdon) sees an add for the agency in the papers, they all rush to the place and are all immediately employed. Aside from Infield-Hopping, there is also Sam Twist (Kenneth Connor), who must cure his addition to cigarette; Lily Duveen (Joan Sims), who must cure her addition to candy; Francis Courtenay (Kenneth Williams), who fluently speaks 31 languages; Delia King (Liz Fraser), the pretty blond who finds herself in interesting situations; Gabriel Dimple (Charles Hawtrey) who will find himself at the centre of a boxing ring, and Mike Weston (Bill Owen) who’ll also live some peripeties faithful to Carry On films.
Thanks to their new functions at Helping Hands, the new recruitees will help people with various little job, such as taking a walk with a chimp, testing furniture in a store, greeting people at a wine tasting (and having a bit too much of it), solving couple problems, trying new clothes for a man’s wife, etc. That, I promise, won’t be ordinary.
If Carry On Constable introduced Sid James to the series, then Carry On Regardless was the first film of the franchise starring Liz Fraser. She then was in three more of them. Jimmy Thompson also made his first Carry On appearance in this one and was then seen in Carry On Cruising and Carry On Jack. I think it’s important to mention them as a pair as they are both parts of one of the funniest scenes of the film:
Mr Delling (Thompson) has bought new clothes as a surprise to his wife. He has contacted the agency for someone to try them on to see if they fit. Delia (Fraser) is sent for the mission. At Delling’s place, Delia is acting in seductive but still innocent way while trying the clothes – Marilyn Monroe style. Delling suddenly sees his wife coming back (she was supposed to be at the train station). Panicking, he tells Delia to hide in the closet. When his wife wants to put her coat in the closet, he does everything he can to convince her not to do so. She eventually opens the door, and Delia comes out of it dressed as a man! The husband invents some excuse, and no harm is done.
Kenneth Williams probably makes my favourite entrance of all the Carry On entrances so far! I liked it so much; I had to watch it more than once! He arrives at the labour exchange, his chin very up, as usual, and proves to Kenneth Connor, Terence Longdon, and Bill Owen that he can fluently speak several languages and that, in this case, there “must must must be a worthwhile appointment” for him. Well, “there isn’t” as Mr Twist (Connor) points out. The opposition between Courtenay’s theatricality and Twist’s negativity and discouragement is perfect. Kenneth Williams later finds himself in some ridiculous situations where he acts as dignified as possible, such as when he has to go on a walk with a lady’s chimp. It eventually ends up in a chimp tea party at the zoo! Or when he has to show his best profile for a modelling job which ends up to be an advertisement for a product that won’t glorify his beautiful face at all!
Showing his best profile!
Kenneth Connor also finds himself in some hilarious situations due to the peculiar jobs he’s been given. For one of them, he believes he’s on a spy mission, 39 Steps style, when he isn’t really. There’s also this short but sweet scene where he has to supervise a library and keep quiet but can’t help laughing at the old customers. Or when he tries a highly technological bed in a department store but this one turns out to have considerable manufacturing defects. If Kenneth Connor often falls in love in the Carry On films, this time, his weakness is his cigarette addiction. He tried to stop several times. Lily Duveen (Sims) will be a helping hand within Helping Hands and try to help him quit this addiction. However, we never really know the outcome of it, which is one of the weak points of the film. But then, I guess Carry On films aren’t necessarily sanctimonious!
Joan Sim’s moments of glory occurs when she greets people at a wine tasting. Afterwards, she’s invited to join the party and has one drink too many as she doesn’t really get the meaning of wine tasting, at the great despair of the wine connoisseurs. While shooting this scene, Sims was the victim of a practical joke by movie director Gerald Thomas. The wine was supposed to be tap water, but Thomas replaced it with gin. Her reaction when she tastes the wine is completely genuine (and a bit too exaggerated for wine– well we know why now!). Oh, and this scene was shot at 8:30 am! Poor Joan! (1)
On their side, Sid James and Esma Cannon deal with a customer (Stanley Unwin) at the agency who speaks gobbledygook to their great discouragement. He comes back several times, and nobody can understand what he’s saying. Sid James’s act of discouragement and “not you again” faces are the best parts of these interactions with the strange man. What does he want? Well, we’ll finally know that when he’ll be in the presence of Francis Courtenay who speaks 31 languages!
Apart from Bill Owen and Terence Longdon who have small roles, Hattie Jacques and Joan Hickson also make small appearances in a hospital scene as Matron and Sister (their roles from Carry On Nurse having been inverted). Talking of Terence Longdon, as it is informed to us in The Carry On Companion, his role was initially intended for Leslie Phillips and meant to be much more important. Leslie Phillips had decided to withdraw from the Carry On series to avoid being typecast and explore new horizons. (2)
When the film was released, Variety said of Norman Hudis’s dialogues that they were “lively, relying on a great deal of double meanings, saucy vulgarity and the various personalities of the lengthy cast”. (3) While The Monthly Film Bulletin and The Los Angeles Time wrote that, despite its fault, the film should still please the audience since, at this point, Carry On films had work pretty well. (4) Financially, the film wasn’t as popular as Carry On Nurse, for example, but it still was #10 at the 1961 British Box office. (5)
And I hope you’ll be pleased as well with it when you’ll see it, just as much as I was!
Tomorrow we’ll review Carry On Cruising, which was the first colour Carry On!
Want to follow that series closely? Make sure to take a look at my other reviews!
(1) “Carry On Regardless: Trivia.” IMDB, n.d. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054727/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv. Accessed Oct 5, 2019.
(2) Ross, Robert. The Carry On Companion. London: Batsford, 1998. p. 31.
(3) ” Carry On Regardless.” Wikipedia, 18 August 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carry_On_Regardless. Accessed Oct 5, 2019.
(5) Ibid. note 1