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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Carry On's, 10 May 2006
This review is from: Carry on Cleo/Carry on Jack [DVD] [1964] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Carry On Jack (1963) was the series first historical epics and is easily the most forgetable. Its not so much that its a bad film, but whats lacking in this is the true spirit of the Carry On's, probably as there are so many of the regulars missing - theres no Sid James, Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor, Hattie Jaques or Kenneth Connor. Only Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey are the main regulars to be featured in this, though Jim Dale has a cameo role in this who starred in many of the 1960's Carry On's. Bernard Cribbins, who to be fair, blends in with the cast as though he'd always been a regular, plays Albert Poop-Decker, an unlucky man, who after years of struggle, finally wins his commission only to have his identity, rank and uniform stolen from him by Sally (Juliet Mills) who he soon falls in love with. The historical accuracy is impressive with the sets and the costumes but this Carry On film misses its mark slightly though Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey are on fine form throughout. An adequate comedy.

However the real reason to get this DVD (which compensates for the patchy Carry On Jack) is the inclusion of one of the series best and most fondly remembered entries in the series - Carry On Cleo (1964). When the great epic disaster Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor was abandoned from filming at Pinewood Studios, the Carry On team took full advantage of the lavish sets and extravagent costumes, making it all look and seem more expensive than usual. The hopeless Hengist Pod (Kenneth Connor) comes up with the idea of a square wheel to stop carts from rolling downhill - amusing stuff! However he and his neighbour (Jim Dale) are soon captured by invading Romans and are rapidly sold off as slaves. Julius Caesar (a superb comic turn from Kenneth Williams, taking lines such as "oooo I do feel queer" and "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me" to new heights) has caught the flu from Britains damp climate and is unaware that his best general, Mark Antony (Sid James) has joined up with Cleopatra (played beautifully by Amanda Barrie), Queen of Egypt, to overthrow him.

Carry On Cleo is consistently amusing with Kenneth Williams and Sid James putting in one of their finest roles in the series. Charles Hawtrey also crops up hilariously being as overly camp as ever, in the role of Seneca whilst Joan Sims plays Calpurnia, which she plays to perfection as the tempramental, nagging, vase-throwing wife of Julius Caesar and this type of characterisation eratically became something of her trademark in the series. One of the very best in the series and was certainly the finest film they'd made up to this point. Classic British comedy at its very best!
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