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1975 Entry In The Much Loved Series
on 18 April 2006
A group of imminent archaelogists, led by the stuffy Professor Roland Crump (Kenneth Williams) and the more fun, liberated Professor Anna Vooshka (Elke Sommer), are in search of an old Roman town that is thought to be lying underneath a holiday caravan park.
It's the height of the summer season and a group of holiday makers arrive on the dingy-looking caravan park for their annual holidays. The dedicated archaelogists begin their frantic search for the Roman town and start digging enthusiastically away, subsequently leading to the the entire caravan park nearly sinking into the ground after a torrential thunderstorm on the last night of the holiday.
This 1975 entry in this much-loved British comedy film series marked the beginning of the end of the Carry On series. Screenplay writer Talbot Rothwell (who had taken over as writer from Norman Hudis in 1963 with Carry On Cabby) essentially retired from the Carry On films after 1974's Carry On Dick due to nervous exhaustion. Carry On Dick marked the end of an era in more ways than one as it also saw the swift departure of three of its most popular stars: Sid James, Hattie Jacques and Barbara Windsor.
Scriptwriter Dave Freeman was drafted into the fold having already worked with producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas on the 1972 film version of the hit ITV sitcom, Bless This House. Dave Freeman's windy, sparky and far bluer dialogue was more risque, a trend that had started to emerge in the vast majority of the 1970s Carry On's. The jokes and endless gags all overflow on smutty innuendo and double entendres even though Freeman was in fact attempting to vaguely recapture the spirit and flavour of 1969's classic Carry On Camping.
Times had certainly changed since then and all sorts of ludicrous sex comedies were scoring high at the Box Office, such as the dreadful Confessions Of A... films and the even worse Adventures Of A... series which all seemed pretty lame stuff when compared to the sparkling, feel-good factor of the Carry On's. However by 1975 the Carry On's were suddenly seeming a little out of place and somewhat dated in comparison to the more explicit sex comedies that were roaming around.
However, 1975's Carry On Behind still comes out a winner even though faring disappointingly at the Box Office. It's missing several of the regular Carry On stars, but an injection of new faces keep things fairly fresh, with the likes of Carol Hawkins (who had previously starred in 1972's Carry On Abroad) and Sherrie Hewson providing the eye candy for the men, while Adrienne Posta and Ian Lavender (star of the BBC sitcom, Dads Army) star as a married couple on their holidays. These performers all breeze into the Carry On phenomenon very well, and with the likes of Carol Hawkins and Adrienne Posta on board these younger performers could well have been the next generation of Carry On players.
Also returning to the Carry On's after a long absence from the series wasLiz Fraze,r last seen in 1963's Carry On Cabby, and Larry Dann as one of the team of archaeologists, last seen back in 1959's Carry On Teacher.
Surprisingly its International film star Elke Sommer who receives top billing in Carry On Behind, pipping Carry On lifer Kenneth Williams to the post. Her wonderful performance is always impeccably timed, displaying a natural flair for comedy and tossing in such fractured English comments that becomes the foil of each delightful scene she shares with Kenneth Williams, both seemingly spark off one another.
Kenneth Williams is the typically snide, arrogant and campy Professor Roland Crump. If you were to delve into Kenneth Williams famous Diaries that were published shortly after he allegedly commit suicide in 1988, you would be a little startled to learn (I certainly was) that Williams had grown very unhappy with the Carry On series over the years, feeling they had hindered his acting career in finding more serious, challenging roles. You really can't detect that animosity when you view Williams performance in Carry On Behind (even though he declared this to be the worst in the series at the point of filming) as he goes through the motions with seemingly effortless energy, delivering on the whole, a fine comic turn.
Bernard Bresslaw stars as Arthur Upmore who is on his annual holiday with his slightly dowdy wife, Linda (Patsy Rolands) who has the burden of having to bring his interfering, dragon-like mother-in-law (Joan Sims) along. Bresslaw's performance seems to be running through the motions, lacking the spark of his role in Carry On Camping whilst Patsy Rolands bubbles along nicely in the background in a fairly minor supporting turn.
Joan Sims seems to be on auto-pilot for the duration for the first half of the film, though has a few witty lines to deliver. As the film draws on, she is revealed to have a far softer side when she is unexpectedly reunited with her long-lost husband, Henry (Peter Butterworth) whom had been working at the caravan park as an "odd job" man for the past twenty years. The scenes in which Sims and Butterworth are re-aquainting themselves in the caravan are actually quite touching, delivered beautifully by these two stalwarts of the series and having a real, poignant edge.
Peter Butterworth as Henry Barnes practically turns in a virtual re-creation of his stingy, scavanging character Mr. Fiddler in the more famous Carry On Camping for Carry On Behind, though his performance is top notch as always while another stalwart of the series, Kenneth Connor gets the occasional chance to shine as the sexually repressed and ever-randy caravan site owner, Major Leep.
The pairing of Windsor Davies as Fred and Jack Douglas as Ernie is a slightly pale reflection of the dynamic teaming of Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw in Carry On Camping with just a few variations. Again they are the almost stereotypical middle-aged married men looking for extra marital activity whilst their wives (Liz Frazer and Patrica Franklin) are blissfully ignorant of their husbands intent, believing they are going on a "fishing" trip.
The pace and energy of the Carry On films was slowing down considerably now though Carry On Behind stays afloat with some fine performances and hilarious (even if predictable) situations that makes this one of the classics in the series and indeed the last watchable of the series (subsequent entries Carry On England (1976) and Carry On Emanuelle (1978) are probably best forgotten).
There does seem a lack of real interaction with the cast until the ending whenJenny Cox turns up (typically through a comic misunderstanding) at the caravans club/bar on the final night of the holiday performing a raunchy strip tease. It is the climax of Carry On Behind that really scores best as the whole holiday ends in disaster as various caravans begin falling down the muddy holes the archeaologists had been digging around the site. But the film ends firmly retaining that feel-good factor that the Carry On's were always renowned for and this was a last hurrah for the series.
(Incidentally Carry On Behind was shot on exactly the same field as Carry On Camping which was not more than a stones throw from Pinewood Studios where all Carry On's were filmed. Again the cast as in Carry On Camping had a hard time keeping their spirits "up" having been filmed during the winter season in time for its summer release.)