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Chiltern Film Society - June 2020

Stay Safe and Carry On...

People of a certain age (ahem…) will know what the Carry On films were. For the uninitiated, let me explain…

From 1958, all the way through to 1978 (and a one-off 1992 venture that’s probably best forgotten) there were 31 movies made in this franchise. That’s more than the Marvel Comics universe, which has only achieved a paltry 23…

So what was so special about the Carry On films? Well, they are so very British. Chock-full of the cream of comedy acting talent, this ensemble more or less took it in turns to play the lead - usually the stories focussing on professions: Carry On Nurse, Carry On Sergeant, Carry On Cabby. They are often repeated on television and everyone has their favourite one, if not their favourite lines. Who can forget “Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!” which Kenneth Williams declaimed as Julius Caesar in Carry On Cleo?

For me, it is the historical plots that make me snigger. Carry On Henry set in the court of Henry VIII and Carry On Up The Khyber set during the ‘glory days’ of the British Raj, both with some unforgettable set pieces.

The magic of the franchise was two-fold: the already mentioned cast of superb comedy actors, like Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Jim Dale and Charles Hawtrey; and the broad British seaside postcard style of humour. A lot of it has, sadly, dated now - we have moved on and some of the silly jokes feel a little icky. But the majority of the set-ups and the warmth of the characters come shining through.

The whole collection is done with the innocence of children dressing up and playing games. Ridiculously brilliant!

Whatever you do this month, stay safe, have a good old laugh and snigger when you can and ‘Carry On’ enjoying your films!

Paul Vates – CFS Chairman.

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