Hey everybody! I’m back today with another Carry On review, this time exploring Carry On Behind (Gerald Thomas, 1975). Surprisingly, this film is not so much about behinds except for a few gags. Its particularity, however, resides in the fact that it was the first Carry On film since Carry On Cabby not to be written by Talbot Rothwell. Dave Freeman took care of this one, but he never became a regular among the Carry On team. The fact that Carry Ons weren’t written either by Norman Hudis or Talbot Rothwell anymore wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Carry On Behind isn’t probably the worst Carry On. It is good enough, and I enjoyed it, but I felt it lacked a bit of flavour, especially in the screenplay. I didn’t notice so many punchlines and particularly memorable dialogues. Not that they weren’t any, but it was not comparable to previous Carry Ons.
Carry On Behind can easily remind us of Carry On Camping as its main location is, well, a campground but a camping-cars site this time. They also used the same Pinewood studio site as they did for Camping and, once again, the weather conditions weren’t too good for outdoor shooting (1). Sergio Angelini, in an article for BFI Screen Online, even says that it’s a remake of Camping. (2) I don’t necessarily think it is, but there are definitely some similarities.
This time, it’s Kenneth Connor who plays the camping’s owner, Major Leap (he’s not really a major). The film introduces Windsor Davies as butcher Fred Ramsden. I feel that Davies was a sort of substitute to Sid James due to the type of character he portraits (the dirty old man) but, because we were then at the end of the Carry On era, his impact was probably less significant. With his electrician friend, Ernie Bragg (Jack Douglas), he goes camping leaving their respective wives, Sylvia (Liz Frazer) and Vera (Patricia Franklin), in town. At the camping, surprise, they meet two lovely young girls, Carol (Sherrie Hewson) and Sandra (Carol Hawkins). This could be a reference to Sid James’s relationship with Barbara Windsor’s character in Carry On Camping, but the two ladies don’t seem to be truly interested in the older men. The campground is not an ordinary one as it happens to be an archaeological site which attracts Professor Roland Crump (Kenneth Williams) and his students. Antic Rome expert Professor Anna Vrooshka (Elke Sommer) from Russia is there to assist them. Eventually, Crump and Vrooshka have to share a camping-car, the one of the camping’s odd-man job Henry (Peter Butterworth). Two more groups of travellers are Arthur Upmore (Bernard Bresslaw) and his wife Linda (Patsy Rowlands) who are accompanied by the annoying step-mother Mrs Barnes (Joan Sims), who has brought a domestical talking bird that will cause some troubles. However, the trip at the camping has a good surprise in reserve for Mrs Barnes. Finally, there is Norma (Adrienne Posta) and Joe Baxter (Ian Lavender) who are travelling with their big dog who eventually escapes, just like the bird. So, many things are going on in this, let admit it, pretty poor-looking camping.
What disappointed me the most about the film is the fact that, despite being Liz Frazer’s return to the series, her role is, in fact, very small and doesn’t give us enough place to appreciation. She is there at the beginning, which gives us time to briefly feel nostalgic of the good old Norman Hudis’s Carry Ons and then, she disappears for pretty much the whole film to finally reappear towards the end. But she doesn’t necessarily have any moments of glories like some of the other actors. Positively, I really liked German actress Elke Sommer who plays Anna Vrooshka. I like how self-assured she is even if her mispronunciation of words often confuses her acolyte Kenneth Williams. Both end up to form a quite appreciable pair but then, Kenneth Williams fits well with everybody. I also liked Jack Douglas more than I used to in the previous Carry On films, probably because he doesn’t have those weird spasms and chose a more humble acting game, but not too humble either (meaning that it fits Carry On atmosphere well- that is a good thing). Another intriguing actor was Ian Lavender, whom I think provided good comical touches without having to do too much (which creates a good contrast with the more eccentric actors). That was his only Carry On films. The rest of the regulars were great as always. I thought it was interesting that Joan Sims played Patsy Rowland’s mother although she was just one year older than her. But then, she was perhaps the most versatile Carry On actress portraying characters of all ages and class status over the years. Last note on the casting: this was, unfortunately, Bernard Bresslaw and Patsy Rowlands’s final appearances in the series (3). In other words, not many regulars are left for the Carry Ons to come. Even if it’s not supposed to be good, I’m sort of looking forward to Jim Dales and Leslie Phillips’s come back in Carry On Columbus.
Even though Dave Freeman’s work on the dialogues was not the most impressive and memorable one, I’ve noted a few lines that I thought fitted the Carry On atmosphere quite well:
1- *The van carrying Professor Crump, Professor Vooshka, and the students arrives in the camping*
Daphne Barnes: How disgusting! Who are they!?
Arthur Upmore: Archaeologists.
Daphne Barnes: Archaeologists!?
Arthur Upmore: That’s what it says on the side of the van.
Daphne Barnes: Well, they all sound drunk to me!
Arthur Upmore [trying not to lose his patience]: So they are drunk archaeologists!
2- Prof. Anna Vrooshka: Tomorrow, we are poking holes all over caravan site.
Prof. Roland Crump: I don’t think they would like that at all.
Prof. Anna Vrooshka: It’s ok, we are poking early.
3- The Dean: I’m glad to see you two look like hitting it off.
Prof. Anna Vrooshka: Hitting it off, what does hit it off mean? Means like having it off, no?
Prof. Roland Crump: Oh no, it means establishing a friendly relationship.
4- Prof. Anna Vrooshka: I’m sorry Major but I’m not loving you.
Maj. Leep: Yes, but…
Prof. Anna Vrooshka: You see, when I love a man I give him everything, I give it all.
Maj. Leep: But I don’t want it all, I just want a bit.
5- And minor spoiler alert: Kenneth Williams concludes the film with one of his iconic phrases: “Ohhh stop messing about!” And he’s just too adorable when he says that!
So, the film doesn’t completely lack good punch lines, but the laughs are definitely less present than they were in previous Carry Ons.
Carry On Behind has its flaws but, overall, I enjoyed it, and thought it was a good enough entertainment.
I’m leaving for a little two-weeks trip for the Holidays next Monday, so I guess I’m going to review the four Carry On films left when I come back! The next one will be Carry On England. Which me good luck!
Want to follow that series closely? Make sure to take a look at my other reviews!
(1) “Carry On Behind: Trivia.” IMDb, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072764/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv. Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.
(2) Angelini, Sergio. “The Carry On Legacy.” BFI Screen Online, http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/1011109/index.html. Accessed Dec. 19, 2019.
(3) Ibid. note 1