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He with the head like the dome of the Mosque of Omar...
on 8 December 2009
One of the best value and most entertaining in this series of Carry On DVD bumper packs, this quadruple feature contains no less than three of the team's greatest efforts, including one that is today regarded as the series' most intelligent and enduring film; the all-time classic Carry On Up The Khyber (1968) is surely the most ambitious movie the team made. Featuring probably the strongest set of production values seen in a Carry On film, as well as one of Talbot Rothwell's very best scripts, and the entire parade of regulars on top form, this entry concerns the British rule in India, and both celebrates and pokes fun at the whole notion of `Britishness'; it is certainly the only flick in this critically sniped-at series that is today appreciated on its individual merits and viewed as a real gem.
Also included here are Don't Lose Your Head (1966) and Follow That Camel (1967), movies that were made by the Carry On production team but which were originally released without the Carry On prefix due to legal reasons (the series moved from Anglo Amalgamated to Rank). As a result, they didn't perform very well at the box office, and were eventually re-released with `Carry On' plugged into all the promotional material. However, both films are highly enjoyable and easily rank in the series' top ten movies. Don't Lose Your Head is a Scarlet Pimpernel spoof, whilst Follow That Camel centres around the Foreign Legion (it also has an unusual, but very welcome, guest star in the form of American actor Phil Silvers, TV's Sgt. Bilko), and they are energetically paced, very funny, and look much better than their basement-level budgets should allow.
The weak link in the chain here is Carry On Doctor (1967), the only contemporary-set movie in this quartet, and the only one that is less than totally satisfying. Though it features most of the regular team, none of them give particularly impressive turns, the script is tired, and the film lacks the good-hearted warmth of the previous hospital-themed effort Carry On Nurse (1959); but that said, it is still far more enjoyable than a lot of the later films in the series. Taken as a whole, this quartet of Carry Ons is well worth the asking price.
Robert Ross' featured DVD commentaries on Don't Lose Your Head, Follow That Camel, and Carry On Doctor see him joined by the second lead in all three films, Jim Dale, whilst his guest for Carry On Up The Khyber is none other than producer Peter Rogers, whose remarks are particularly welcome; given the amount of stick he gets from several of his old stars on other Carry On DVDs, it is nice to hear him put across some of his own opinions for a change.