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Fun, Classic Carry On!
on 14 March 2006
Following the hilarious medical caper Carry On Again Doctor (1969) (one of my own personal favourites in the series), the merry old Carry On gang retreated to another historical theme for what was the last Carry On film of the swinging sixties (which was the decade that the series was in its prime), Carry On Up The Jungle (released in early 1970). Although some don't hold 'Up The Jungle' in high regard, I personally really like it. True, it's not as inventive as the likes of 'Up The Khyber' or 'Cleo', but viewed on its own merits, it is still a worthwhile and enjoyable film.
Carry On Up The Jungle predictably runs through all of the familiar gags and double entendres that we've heard several times before in other Carry On films, but it's the lovable performances of main players that ignite 'Up The Jungle' into such a wonderful film (not to mention spot-on direction from Gerald Thomas, aided by the always excellent production skills of Peter Rogers). Yes, it's cheap and cheerful, but it does what it sets out to do: to entertain and make you laugh.
In his second and final Carry On, Frankie Howard gets top billing, starring alongside regulars' Sid James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Connor (making a return after a six year break), Bernard Bresslaw, Terry Scott and Charles Hawtrey. The gang find themselves "carrying on" through the darkest parts of Africa, each character having their own reasons for joining this expedition: Professor Indigo Tinkle (Frankie Howard) and Claude Chumley (Kenneth Connor) are in search of the rare oozalum bird; Bill Boozey (Sid James) is a relentless hunter, simply along for the fun and adventures it would seem, while the glamorous Lady Evelyn Bagley (Joan Sims) is in search of her long lost son that she lost over twenty years ago in the jungle where she and her husband had been honeymooning. June (Jaki Piper, a delightful addition to the cast in her first Carry On) is along for the ride as Lady Bagley's faithful assistant, where as Upsidasi (Bernard Bresslaw) leads the gang through the jungle (the entire film was in fact filmed at Pinewood studios as the Carry On films were renowned for their cheap and cheerful shoestring budgets - even so, it all sort of adds to the fun and the cast make you believe they are in a real jungle).
Along their madcap safari adventures they encounter a Tarzan-type figure, Jungle Boy (Terry Scott) who, in a hilarious twist to the (rather thin) plot is revealed to be none other than Lady Bagley's long-lost son. Jungle Boy also quickly succumbs to the-not-as-innocent-as-she-seems June and they rapidly become lovers. The romantic scenes between the lovely Jaki Piper and great comedic skill of Terry Scott are played out beautifully.
The gang eventually find themselves kidnapped by cannibals (known as the "Noshers" - yes, the humour isn't so subtle) and as it appears as though they are all about to be dropped into a cauldron full of boiling hot water ready for the blood-thirsty tribe to eat, they are rescued by an all-female tribe headed by the formidable Leda (Valerie Leon). After what seemed a lucky escape, they then find themselves being held captive by them as the men of the group are forced to attend mating ceremonies with some of the more unattractive women of the tribe.
Leader of this all-female tribe, known as the Lubba Dubbi's, is Tonka The Great (Charles Hawtrey) who in yet another laughably obvious twist to the plot, turns out to be Lady Bagley's (Joan Sims) long-lost husband whom she had presumed was dead years ago thinking he'd been eaten by a crocodile during their honeymoon (it turns out he'd been languishing in the company of the Lubba Dubbi's for all those years). Eventually they escape before Professor Ingio Tinkle (Frankie Howard) and Claude Chumley (Kenneth Connor) find their prized oozalum bird (only to have it stolen again) and they all return to civilisation.
'Up Pompei' star Frankie Howard as Professor Ingio Tinkle breezes into the whole Carry On phenomenon as though he'd always been part of the gang, where as head of the Carry On family, Sid James, beefs up his usually likable, roguish, womanising character to great effect as the appropriately named Bill Boozey.
Joan Sims shines as Lady Eveleyn Bagley in one of her most lengthy roles in the series, while the effeminate and ever-eccentric Charles Hawtrey is just simply hilarious as the mincing Tonka The Great. Terry Scott takes on the role as Jungle Boy (which had actually been written with Jim Dale) which he makes his own, while Kenneth Connor plays the jittery, bumbling Claude Chumley in his own inimitable style. Completing the cast are Bernard Bresslaw who is amusing as the blacked up Upsidasi (very politically incorrect nowadays, but remember this was 1969), Jaki Piper playing June delightfully and finally Valerie Leon as the formidable Leda of the Lubbi Dubbi's, in her best Carry On role.
Though Carry On Up The Jungle (1969) is missing Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams, the film manages to stay afloat and emerges as yet another classic in the series. Some scenes are a little slow and tedious but over-all Carry On Up The Jungle is an enjoyable comedy that's most definitely worth a look and will undoubtedly satisfy any lover of the genre. Recommended!