Today’s Carry On review is going to be fairly short as the 29th entry of the series has the particularity of being a recap of what the team had produced since 1958 when Carry On Sergeant introduced the series.
That’s Carry On!, as it is called, was released in 1977 in a time where the production probably felt an era of iconic British comedies was coming to an end (being perhaps explained by the commercial failure of Carry On England). That’s Carry On! consists of a recap of the best moments from the series presented in no particular order. Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor were giving the role of co-hosts in a mise-en-scène taking place at Pinewood Studios (the house of Carry On films). The two lads install themselves in the projection room with a picnic and Carry On films, to watch with us what made this series so iconic. According to IMDb, That’s Carry On! was an attempt to do something similar to the successful MGM’s compilation That’s Entertainment (Jack Hayley Jr., 1974). (1).
I don’t think they could have chosen better people than Williams and Windsor as co-host, not only because they were among the most iconic faces of the series, but also because the two of them had undeniable chemistry and were great friends in real life. It felt good to see them again, especially since Barbara Windsor had quitted the series after Carry On Dick. Kenneth Williams didn’t appear in the previous film, Carry On England, and the next one, Carry On Emmanuelle, would be his last one.
This tribute to Carry On films includes some iconic moments of the series that we are not surprised to see such as the daffodil scene from Carry On Nurse, the popping bra scene from Carry On Camping, or the famous “Infamy” quote delivered by Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar in Carry On Cleo. Then, we discover that all tastes are in nature and that some of the clips they chose won’t necessarily be everyone’s favourites. On my side, I think they overall made a good selection, but some of them weren’t necessarily my favourite, or some favourites of mine weren’t included. But that’s normal and ok. As I’ve said, it’s all a matter of taste, so it changes for everybody. However, there are a few moments that I must admit I’ve been surprised not to see included such as Horace Strong (Kenneth Connor)’s transformation in Carry On Sergeant, when the Khasi of Kalabar (Kenneth Williams) makes his speech in Carry On Up the Khyber, Valeria Watt (Fenella Fielding’s) smoking scene in Carry On Screaming, etc. I’ve also noticed that not many clips involving Charles Hawtrey were included. I know things didn’t end up on the right foot between him and the production, but, after all, he DID assure them a success in the USA. No clips from Carry On England were selected. Is that surprising? Yes and no. Yes, because that film has its moments despite its bad reputation. No, because I imagine they wanted to forget it since it was such a flop.
What I found most satisfying about That’s Carry On! is that it helped remember some films and some scenes that were a bit far in my memory (I somehow had forgotten about the existence of Carry On Up the Jungle). I saw again some familiar Carry On faces that hadn’t appear in the series since a long time or who appeared in a few of them but that we forgot (Jimmy Thompson would be a good example).
The way Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams present the clips is… Interesting. Somehow, they make some weird links between a film and what they are saying. Sometimes it works, sometimes, not really. Perhaps the most direct connection is when Williams needs to go pee which leads Windsor to introduce Carry On… At Your Convenience. Or maybe it’s a bit too easy! What worked less for me is that it felt really scripted (and it was). Therefore, it lacks natural vides a little. You feel that if a free card was given to the two actors to discuss the film, they might have done it differently.
Nevertheless, That’s Carry On! remains a must-see for anyone following the Carry On series for the simple reason that it makes you feel very nostalgic!
Believe it or not, I only have two more Carry On films to review! I’ll see you next with Carry On Emmannuelle!
Want to follow that series closely? Make sure to take a look at my other reviews!
(1) “That’s Carry On: Trivia.” IMBd. Accessed January 22, 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076814/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv