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The Carry On Film's Enter The Swinging Seventies
on 3 May 2006
Though variable in quality and quite dated, Carry On Loving hit contemporary times perfectly in this mildly risqué offering. Here the team are entering into the spirit of more liberal times, something director Gerald Thomas and producer Peter Rogers intended to loosely draw upon.
Carry On Loving is similar in content to an earlier addition in the series, 'Regardless' (1960), with a series of sketches, all connected a to a fraudulent dating agency, run by Sid James and Hattie Jacques. Their characters, Sid and Sophie Bliss, are a couple who pretend they're married as a ploy to make their shoddy dating agency look more genuine than it actually is. They have a wide variation of clients on their database such as a bachelor who just so happens to be a marriage guidance councilor who is seeking a girlfriend, and a young, naieve man who's desperate to lose his virginity.
Some may argue that the formula of the Carry On's was beginning to wear a little thin at this stage, but despite a few nondescript scenes where the pace becomes a little tedious on occasions, it is overall highly entertaining, ending with a fun cake fight scene where the cast are all gathered together in one big mass ceremony finale that, despite its lack of originality, makes for a classic ending.
Some of the regulars on show in this offering are looking a little older now, while some are unfairly restricted to minor supporting turns. Sid James is basically Sid James, beefing up his usual masculine charms on any woman that takes his fancy (mainly Joan Sims), while Hattie Jacques, who always brought a sense of grace with her inimitable characterisations, plays his pretend wife, Sophie, and shares some sparkling scenes with both Sid James and Kenneth Williams.
Joan Sims is unfairly pigeon-holed in a supporting though effective role as the amorous spinster, Esme Crowfoot, who lives in the constant shadow of her fierce partner, known as Gripper Burke (as he's a wrestler). Joan Sims shares some fun scenes with Sid James and has one hysterical one with Kenneth Williams towards the climax of the film.
Kenneth Williams is another stalwart of the series who is (surprisingly) restricted to a supporting role as the typically pompous yet inefficient marriage guidance councilor, Percival Snooper. His superior demands for him to become married after a series of complaints from his clients who all believe he knows nothing about married life (which is evidently true). He quickly succumbs to the advances of the formidable Hattie Jacques.
Charles Hawtrey turns up as a private investigator, hot on the trail of Sid James following Hattie Jacques suspicions of his shady relationship with Joan Sims. While he is as amusing as always he is also given limited screen time and doesn't feel like a real participant in the film, having very little interaction with any of his fellow Carry On colleagues.
Terry Scott, who had appeared in various Carry On entries, plays Terence Philpott, an accident-prone man with a youthful innocence, resurrecting a role that was seemingly tailor-made for Jim Dale. He gets to play some great scenes opposite Imogen Hassall whom is wonderfully transformed from dowdy into a luscious beauty. The scenes they share when Terry Scott goes to visit her for the first time at her family's stately home are of significant comic value and Joan Hickson turns up in a fantastic cameo here, playing the stern, no-nonsense mother. There's also the fun sequence of the two trying to enjoy a quiet night in together but are continually disturbed by the rest of his girlfriends flatmates and their trivial domestic matters.
Jaki Piper, who had previously starred in 'Up The Jungle', plays a model who, through a comic misunderstanding, ends up meeting and falling in love with the dopey and accident-prone Richard O' Callaghan. Their is some nice scenes between the two as their romance steadily builds up.
Other Carry On players that show up include Bernard Bresslaw as the manic wrestler, Gripper Burke, and also a great role here for Patsy Rolands who sparkles in all of her few number of scenes as the dowdy housekeeper of Percival Snooper (Kenneth Williams). Feeling threatened that her job will come to an end after Percival announces to her that he will be marrying Sophie Bliss, she hilariously does her very best to split the two up after it becomes blatantly obvious that she is in fact in love with him herself. The transformation of her from dowdy to glam is fantastically played by Patsy Rolands in possibly her best role in a Carry On film.
Though by no means is this one of the best, but Carry On Loving, overall, is still definitely worth a look and really captures a certain era (the dawn of the swinging seventies) impeccably well. It's just a shame that this film is so underrated.