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Carry On Spying [DVD]
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Eighth entry in the 'Carry On' series. Barbara Windsor (in her first 'Carry On' appearance) plays a trainee spy in the British Secret Service, who must use all her talents to prevent an evil mastermind from the organisation S.T.E.N.C.H. obtaining a secret formula. Master spies on the case include Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Cribbins.
While the later chapters of the Carry On series have received fairly constant exposure, some earlier examples such as 1964's Spying remain relatively unseen. Given the brash production and ensemble playing of the more well-known films, this black and white version of the Carry On world seems oddly low-key in comparison. Four of the soon-to-be-regular cast are in attendance--Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey--and there are many signs of a formula in development (the double entrendres, bad puns, Windsor's ill-fitting clothing). Of course, with its obsession with sex and bodily functions it's all very English and parts have dated horribly, not least the casual racism of some of the secondary characters, but fans of this most unique of genres will find much to tickle their fancy. And don't they look so young?
On the DVD: Given the long history and colourful characters of the series, there must be scope for much behind the scenes and documentary footage, but this disc is totally bereft of any extras bar scene selection. There is also little to add to the original black and white film stock, although the soundtrack, chock full of humorous instrumentation, sounds pretty good. --Phil Udell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The cast is this time headed up by Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor (making her Carry On debut), Bernard Cribbins and Charles Hawtrey. They are four less than stellar operatives for British Intelligence tasked with retrieving a top secret formula that has been stolen by STENCH. During their mission they are helped by Carstairs (Jim Dale), and just who or what is the mysterious organisation known as SNOG? Are they friends or in league with the evil Dr. Crow?
Though dotted throughout with some written innuendo, "Spying" is still in touch with the more genial comedy that was evident in the early years - particularly the black and whites. This is good honest comedy, with visual exuberance and witty repartee the order of the day. Watching it now you find it holds up very well, sure it's a bit fruity and nutty, but a freshness exists here and it lets some damn fine actors loose to show their respective skills. It also looks terrific, the noir photography by Alan Hume sparkling.
A prime Carry On movie for those who prefer their Carry On's more knowingly jolly than the later bawdy entries. 9/10
The film itself is certainly no great entry in the series, but it does have some very witty one liners. In an obvious parody of the James Bond movies, a top secret formula is stolen by an organisation, and a group of hapless agents, including Kenneth Williams and Bernard Cribbins, are sent to investigate. If you're familiar with the 'Carry On' movies, you can probably already imagine the chaos and funny situations that occur in the wake of this.
Kenny steals the show, and Jim Dale in cameo (not to mention in a variety of guises) is also fun to watch. 'Spying' is an amusing, enjoyable spoof of a spy movie, and certainly one of the better black-and-white 'Carry Ons'.
As with all the 'red' DVD releases of the 'Carry On' films, aside from 'scene selections', there are no special features at all.
Fun and adventures all the way with the gangs reaching new heights of invention and parody in this one. The cast are all excellent, especially Barbara Windsor who sparkles in every scene. A comic gem!
The beautiful double act of Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey sets the tone, their performances a perfect balance of knowingness and cheeky abandonment to whatever fun is waiting around the next corner. It says a lot about how brittle and inflexible the James Bond machine was becoming even in 1964 that the Broccoli organisation brought out the lawyers and instructed them to cut the legs off this mildest, most affectionate of parodies. Fortunately for us, they didn't succeed beyond forcing Hawtrey's "James Bind" to become "Charles Bind" -a name that director Lindsay Shonteff also used in his seventies Bond take-off, "Licensed to Love and Kill", starring (and I'm not kidding) Gareth Hunt.
But Bond isn't the only target for the spoofery. The Third Man gets a wink, as does Modesty Blaise; in fact, every cliché (sorry: archetype) of the spy genre has a friendly raspberry blown in its face, and the fact that "Carry On Spying" ticks a lot of the boxes more satisfyingly than at least half a dozen of the Bond films says a lot for the makers' fondness for the genre they were sending up (and it's important to stress that this is a spoof, not a piss-take; there's no sneering involved).
This was Barbara Windsor's first Carry On film, pub-quizzers, and also stars Sir (at least in our house) Bernard Cribbins. And any film that features Victor Maddern as a super-spy belongs on some kind of plinth in the museum of Sunday afternoon hangover telly.
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