There are three grades of the classic 'Carry On' Film. Grade 1 includes Cleo, Screaming and Up the Kyber. These are best, cinematic gold, good stories, settings and humour. Grade 3 include any made after 1969 or so, when the progressively diminishing budgets started to have a direct impact on the writing and the subject matter such that the settings became more domestic and bland by necessity. The fact that the British economy was going into the toilet at the same time was probably not a coincidence - we had less to laugh about after 1969.
'Spying' is, in my opinion, a Grade 2. The sets (recycled?) are superb and the supporting actors are flawless with a debut by a grossly underused Jim Dale as British uber-spy Carstairs.
The problem is that the main actors, Williams, Windsor, Hawtree and Cribbins suffer from a lame script and poor characterisation. Kenneth Williams, who was brilliant in the Grade 1 movies above is grossly under-used here and simply reprises his annoying foil from his time opposite Tony Hancock. Hawtree blunders about to no effect and Windsor and Cribbins have a weak love thing going.
So what's to enjoy about this film? Well its tongue-in-cheek homage to 'The Third Man', including zither music, 'Casablanca', with its own fat man (the actor in question had a part in 'Third Man') and 'Dr No' complete with hermaphroditic mad scientist and Modesty Blaise clones. This film does not look cheap as the later ones tended to do.
The film ends too quickly with a wrap-up that disturbs the flow, as if they were running over time or over budget and had to call a halt.
But if you ignore these flaws and simply immerse yourself in the comparatively high and detailed production values in front of you then you will enjoy this film. The opening tracking shot of Victor Maddern as the evil Milkman up to no good is a treat.
So, all in all, this film is worth your valuable viewing time and as the DVD will set you back a bit less than buying a large-sized meal at Burger King, why not?