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One Of The Best,
This review is from: Carry On Cowboy [DVD]  (DVD)
Following the International success of the hilarious classic, Carry On Cleo (1964), Gerald Thomas and Peter Rogers decided another parody was what was need to keep the series vital and alive. Written by Talbot Rothwell, the team came up with another one of their very best entries in the series with Carry On Cowboy (1965).
There was always a loose structure to the plot in most Carry On films but with this one, its far more concentrated, with a surprisingly gritty, hard-edged realism behind the laughs. The action is set in the heart of Stodge City which lies in the heart of the Wild West where the notorious Rumpo Kid (Sid James) and his gang are striking fear into all the residents of the local community. Desperate to bring his deadly and violent reign to an end, Judge Burke (Kenneth Williams) hastily sends for a sheriff but through a comic misunderstanding (this is a Carry On film after all) ends up being sent a sanitary engineer with the laughably named Marshall P. Knutt (Jim Dale) who is accident-prone from the word go! Luckily for him, help is at hand in the shape of the volatile Annie Oakley (Angela Douglas) who turns up at Stodge City seeking revenge on her fathers murderer who just so happens to be the Rumpo Kid!
The merry Carry On gang all take on surprisingly realistic American accents and carry it off remarkably well with some of the cast members even approaching their roles in a deadly serious manner. Sid James is excellent as the Rumpo Kid who doesn't quite shake off his own inimitable characterisation but is certainly the only role where he plays a genuine baddie, killing people seemingly by the minute.
Kenneth Williams laughably plays his usual pompous and incompetent figure in the shape of Judge Burke whilst Charles Hawtrey is in a highly effective comic role here playing the Indian, Big Heap, who camps it up right to the end. Jim Dale is his usual bundle of nerves as the hopeless, accident-prone Marshall P. Knutt and is featured in a wonderfully staged shoot-out scene at the exciting climax of the film.
Joan Sims turns up in one of her best Carry On roles here. Joan actually said that this was her favourite role in a Carry On film and indeed in all of the period Carry On's, Joan Sims always played an integral part in the film. In Cowboy, she plays the brassy, glamorous, Belle ("my intimate friends call me Ding Dong") in a blatant Mae West characteur which she carries off superbly and plays opposite mostly to Sid James where her character quickly succumbs to Sids cocky, brash charm.
Other members of the cast in this fun entry include Bernard Bresslaw in his first Carry On apperance, playing the manically evil Indian, Little Heap, Angela Douglas who sparkles in the voluptuous shape of Annie Oakley, Peter Butterworth as the useless doctor and a small cameo from Jon Pertwee as the sheriff.
The authentic sets and costumes capture the era impeccably well. The action is fast paced as is the rollercoaster dialogue and this certainly stands as the most dark, violent Carry On with the highest death count! Still it's essential viewing and fans of this genre of comedy will love it!