The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Carry On Clangers

Time for another moan. Carry On films. Bloody Carry bloody On bloody films.

They’re awful, aren’t they? Truly, truly dreadful.

Well, most of them. The first few, in black and white, have proper plots, actual drama, and could even pass for Ealing Comedies. And maybe, at a push, the Cleopatra one, the Cowboy one and the Khyber one might have some good things about them, but...

...the rest. Oh, how tiresome they are. Crap, sub-Benny-Hill-in-the-80’s gags. Puns! Innuendoes! Slapstick! All written without a trace of wit or creativity. There are even feeble attempts at satire, albeit from a right-wing, middle-class laughing at the working-class perspective. And breasts, demonstrating the old strip-club adage that if they’re not laughing they should be letching.

Seedy. That’s the word. And I think the only reason they’re popular is because they tie into that we-like-Britain-being-a-bit-crap mentality. The whole ‘lets go to a closed-down seaside resort for a rainy bank holiday and stare at where the sea meets the shingle’ mindset. The whole, brown, 1970’s-ness of it, like wallpaper with that interlinked hoops design. The grim stench of failure.

But what really annoys me about them is what a waste they were. Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey – these guys were phenomenal actors. Watch them in anything other than a Carry On film and they’re sublime. In a Carry On film, they’re desperately trying to salvage the material. Mugging and cackling and camping. And the same goes for Bresslaw, Babs, Connor, Sims, Howerd, Dale, Castle & Jacques. All stars squandered on trash.

These nails in the British Film Industry coffin-lid are endlessly repeated, despite the fact that they are less funny than most other British comedy films (and television) of the time. Despite the fact that they epitomise all that was bad about the 1970s.

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