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Carry On Jack [DVD]
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Tenth entry in the 'Carry On' series. Able seaman Poop-Decker (Bernard Cribbins) signs up for adventure on the high seas with the wicked Captain Fearless (Kenneth Williams). Those swabbing the decks include Juliet Mills, Charles Hawtrey and Donald Houston. The film was originally to be entitled 'Up the Armada', but the British Board of Film Censors objected to such a rude title.
Carry On Jack was the 1963 offering from a team which had, by then, become a repertory company with special guests dropping in for a dose of innuendo. "What's all this jigging in the rigging?" demands Kenneth Williams, this time playing a ship's captain, and the scene is set for 90 minutes of ribaldry involving cross-dressing, press-ganging and plank walking. The plot scarcely matters. It's set after the Battle of Trafalgar and the sea is awash with Spanish galleons and pirates as the British navy sets about defending its shores with as much incompetence as possible. Sally, a barmaid at the Dirty Duck (Juliet Mills in feisty principal boy mode), knocks Bernard Cribbins on the head and steals his uniform so that she can go in search of her childhood sweetheart. He is promptly press-ganged and they end up on the same ship. Williams, on the brink of his ascendancy as a star turn, just about keeps the mannerisms under control enough to build the character of the naïve and neurotic captain. Familiar Carry On faces on top form include Charles Hawtrey and Jim Dale, while Peter Gilmore--in his pre-Onedin Line days--appears as a pirate. Peter Rodgers' script is not quite vintage Carry On but the jokes keep coming and it's all good, clean fun.
On the DVD: This was one of the first Carry On films to be made in colour. The print is in reasonable condition. The picture quality, apart from a couple of scratchy scenes of sailing ships that were probably drafted in from stock footage, is fair, as is the sound. But apart from the scene index there are no extras on the disc. Given the cult status of the Carry On films, and the wealth of documentary material which has been made about them and their stars, you'd think something extra could have been offered with the DVD releases to make them a more worthwhile alternative to the video. --Piers Ford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Albert Poopdecker (Cribbins) is all set to finally take up assignment on HMS Venus when he loses his uniform in a house of ill repute. Press ganged the next day onto the Venus, nobody believes him and he is forced to serve his time on board as a menial worker. However, there's mutiny afoot and Albert soon finds himself at the centre of all sorts of misunderstandings.
Not one from the series that is name checked by fans or critics, Carry On Jack is a little better than its reputation suggest it is. It's also a very important entry in the Carry On pantheon,for it was the first time Rothwell, the man who shaped the series, would be in sole charge of writing. It's also the first venture into historical parody, from where the series would get its best ideas and promptly make the best film's of the run. This one clearly revels in sending up Mutiny On The Bounty, HMS Defiant (using some of the same sets from that production) and the Hornblower writings. The absence of Sid James is very much felt since piracy and mutiny appear to be themes you would think suited him. But no Barbara Windsor is not an issue here, simply because there's only one female role of note, and Mills attacks it with gusto and delivers a fine performance. Cribbins, too, is full of life and raises enough laughs as he plays off of the reliable Hawtrey.
Not overtly smutty or as manic as some of the other historical parodies that followed it, Carry On Jack is a fun and tidy time filler. 6/10
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