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Carry On Again, Doctor [DVD]
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A surgeon sets up a slimming clinic on the basis of a potion from the Beatific Isles, in this 'Carry On' film. Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor and company star.
The title of 1969's Carry On Again Doctor says it all; almost the same cast playing similar characters to their previous year's outing in Carry On Doctor. This one rejoices in the alternative title "Bowels are Ringing". But the enduring popularity of these films owes almost everything to their basic formula and if it occasionally seems a bit cobbled together, all the old favourites are still here.
This time, the setting moves from the National Health Service to the private sector and even stretches as far as the "Beatific Islands" when Jim Dale is exiled to a missionary clinic for his overzealous attention to the female patients--who include Barbara Windsor of course. There, orderly Sid James rules the roost of the clinic with his harem of local women. Trivia addicts can spot Mrs Michael Caine in a brief role as a token dusky maiden. The second half of the Talbot Rothwell script picks up nicely as the characters converge on the private hospital back in England where Dale rakes in the money with a bogus weight loss treatment. Hattie Jacques is in fine form as Matron, Kenneth Williams fascinates with his usual mass of mannerisms and Joan Sims is stately as the Lady Bountiful figure financing most of the shenanigans. It's a tribute to their professionalism that we can still lose ourselves in some of the creakiest old jokes around. --Piers Ford
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Most of the same actors that were used in Doctor (1967) crop up in this entry, some playing almost identical characters, others completely different. Jim Dale, for instance, virtually resurrects his accident-prone but well-meaning character from 'Doctor', although here he is named Dr. Jim Nookey. Kenneth Williams is as supercilious as always, although his character displays more of a sense of humour than usual. Even so, he is typically snide and as self-serving as his part in 'Doctor'. Joan Sims proves that, when called for, she can be sexy and glamorous, and it's nice to see in her role where she isn't pigeon-holed in the battle-axe character she would often play. Charles Hawtrey is hilarious in drag, Sid James (who is not introduced until at least half way through the film)is in one of her most unusual roles, and Hattie Jaques, yet again reprising her familiar role of the Matron, is more gently in this one, conveying a warmth in her character that was absent from her part in 'Doctor'. Then of course we have the bubbly Babara Windsor, whose character, Goldie Locks, quickly catches Jim Dale's roving eye. Their romance provides a nice sub-plot.
Carry On Again Doctor, on the whole, plays very well. Whilst seemingly settling down as a hospital based comedy,the first 15 minutes or so seeming like 'Carry On Doctor 2', the film then wildly steers direction when Dr. Nookey (Jim Dale) is sent out to the Beatific Islands on a medical mission and discovers a special weight-reducing potion. Once back in England, he opens a new clinic for women who wish to lose weight. Then the film settles down and sees its last half hour almost encapsulate the feel of a regular TV sitcom with the weight reducing clinic scenes, with the likes of Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey (hilariously in drag) are staying for full treatment.
Following on from 'Up The Khyber' and 'Camping', both of which were landmarks in the series, this ranks as one of my own very favourite Carry On's. The dialogue sparkles along with fast, witty dialogue, and there are some impeccably timed performances from virtually all of the regular cast - Jim Dale, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Sid James, Babara Windsor, Hattie Jaques and Patsy Rolands. It generally captures the true spirit of the Carry On's, yet somehow stands out as quite a unique entry in the series. Certainly many laughs to endure and is a must-see for fans. Generally a recommended comedy all round. A classic!
In fact, 'Carry On Again Doctor' probably marked the Golden Age of Carry On's, and the rude’n’crude humour had arrived. Gone now were the slightly (delightful nonetheless) risqué double ententes, which were replaced with direct references to sex, and other types of naughtiness. The permissive age was here, and the films became all the more funnier for it. After 'Carry On Again Doctor' were a string of classics, including 'Up the Khyber', 'Camping', 'At Your Convenience', and 'Carry On Aboard'.
After disgracing himself at work's party at a local hospital, Dr Nookey (Jim Dale) is demoted to being a medical advisor to a mission on a small Beatific isle. The director of this institute is Gladstone Screwer (Sid James), a remarkable man who has invented a miracle slimming potion and, when Nookey returns to England with this potion, he opens an immediately successful slimming clinic. But the man who sent Nookey away in the first place, Dr Frederick Carver (Kenneth Williams), is not happy with the situation and wants in on the secret.
Whilst the 'Carry On' movies were always hit and miss affairs, 'Again Doctor' is a very enjoyable romp from start to finish. It isn't one of the best entries in the series by any means, despite having on of the most iconic scenes in the history of the films with Barbara Windsor's model character being examined by Dale's doctor, wearing nothing over her bosom but two red tarts, but there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to treasure, and lots of brilliant one-liners. Sid James also appears half-way into the film, and his part isn't as major as usual, though I personally didn't find that took away any of my enjoyment. A greater moan was that the great Peter Butterworth was reduced to a cameo. It was nice to see Charles Hawtrey playing a bad guy for once, and his character formed a wonderful double act with Williams'. The only real let down was the seemingly very rushed, lack-lustre ending.
Like all of the 'Carry On' 'Special Edition' DVDs, this one comes with a collectable booklet with actor profiles and interesting trivia, as well as bonus features on the disc like an audio commentary from Jim Dale, and an episode of the 1970s ITV series 'Carry On Laughing' ('One in the Eye for Harold').
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