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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 9 April 2003
DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD

(UK - 1967)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Mono

During the French Revolution, the villainous Citizen Camembert (a perpetually outraged Kenneth Williams) goes in search of the notorious 'Black Fingernail' (Sid James), an unidentified British aristocrat who's been crossing the English Channel to rescue his French counterparts from the guillotine.

The second and final entry in the long-running series not to feature 'Carry On' in its title due to political fall-out from a change of UK distributor (the first was FOLLOW THAT CAMEL in 1966), DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD demonstrates yet again that screenwriter Talbot Rothwell was at his best when indulging his fondness for historical burlesque. Sumptuously mounted on various high-blown locations (including Clandon Park and Waddesdon Manor, with interiors filmed at Pinewood studios), the film's ribald parody of the French Revolution encompasses everything from silly character names (Camembert is the local 'big cheese', aided and abetted by the gormless Citizen Bidet, while the Black Fingernail conceals his true identity under the foppish pseudonym of Sir Rodney Ffing - "with two F's!") to puns, sight gags and lowbrow slapstick. In other words, the formula as before. But like so many of the better Carry On's, the comedy is rooted in a well-developed storyline, augmented by the usual array of flamboyant characters and eccentric supporting players.

Highlights include Charles Hawtrey as a jolly French aristocrat, and Joan Sims as Williams' Cockney-spouting sister (Sims and Hawtrey share an unlikely seduction sequence midway through the film which culminates in a terrific 'please yourself' gag). Sid James and Jim Dale are the nominal heroes of the piece, camping it up with affectionate glee, while Peter Butterworth excels as Williams' dimwitted lackey, forever lusting after Sims and shouting: "Equality! Fraternity! Liberty!" (to which Sims retorts: "I don't care about the equalities and the fraternities, but I'm NOT having the liberties!"). But as usual, Kenneth Williams walks away with the picture, overplaying every gesture, emphasizing every double entendre, and milking every gag for all its considerable worth. An absolute comic gem!

Director Gerald Thomas keeps the pot boiling throughout, and production values are solid. Watch out for a couple of mistakes which made it into the final print (Williams' hat being knocked by Butterworth in a cramped carriage, and Sims almost falling over whilst admiring a lovely new dress), betraying a rushed production schedule. Favourite gag: Hawtrey brags to a group of young women that he escaped the guillotine by slaying half a dozen of his captors, and one gushing admirer declares: "What a bloody sight it must have been." Hawtrey, quick as a flash, retorts: "M'dear, if me sword hadn't broken, it'd have been a bloody sight more!" Genius.
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on 15 March 2001
This must be one of the funniest of the Carry On series. Set during the French Revolution, a rebel known as the black fingernail begins to cause havoc by setting free the imprisoned peers, lords, ladies and royalty.
With inuendos in every sentence and a great script, this film is one of my personal all-time favourites.
Even if you're not too keen on Carry On films, you will like this one!
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on 5 November 2000
This carry on has a marvellous story, great acting and hilarious jokes in this carry on about the French revolution. Kenneth Williams plays the hilarious evil Citizen Camembert, who is chopping off all the heads of the french aristocracy, along with his stupid little assistant, Citizen Bidet. Meanwhile back in England Sid James and Jim Dale here about this and come over to france to save all the poor aristocracy, using many different tricks and disguises, and always leaving behind him a picture of two fingers stuck up and one of the fingernails is black, so they are notoriously know in France as The Black Fingernail!
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on 6 February 2016
This is a beautifully produced and acted film. There is also a touch of elegance in the ballroom scene with quite stunning costumes and charming music framing the wonderfully silly story. The sword fight at ten minutes is a tad too long but this is a minor quibble. Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire the former home of the Rothchilds and now a National Trust property doubles up as a French chateau and the quality of the location is typical of the producers desire to show only the best.
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Dandy fop Sir Rodney Effing has an alter ego, The Black Fingernail. A man, who along with his partner, Lord Darcy Pue, rescue French aristocrats from the clutches of the revolutionary police chief, Citizen Camembert.

Carry On producer Peter Rogers had severed his links with Anglo Amalgamated and swiftly signed up with Rank Organisation. Miffed at losing their number one cash franchise, and no doubt with a touch of petulance, Anglo's brass refused Rogers permission to using the "Carry On" prefix. Thus this picture was initially released as just "Don't Lose Your Head" in 1966. Eventually common sense prevailed, and this rightly became known as the 13th franchise entry as "Carry On Don't Lose Your Head" {tho the American release of it being called "Carry On Pimpernel" makes better sense one feels}.

Spoofing The Scarlet Pimpernel legacy with a ream of innuendo and double entendre's, the Carry On team deliver one of the better efforts from the series. This is in the main down to Talbot Rothwell's screenplay. Rothwell wrote the screenplay for 20 of the series efforts, he was someone who director and producer both trusted, and crucially that the cast also had faith in. Here his writing is excellent, if of course you be a fan of the saucy shenanigans that came with this particular part of British cinema that is? With characters called Citizen Camembert {refered to as the big cheese, get it?}, Duc de Pommfrit, Citizen Bidet and Sir Rodney Effing {yes that's two F's}, Rothwell lets loose with wave after wave of cheeky dialogue, all delivered with comic aplomb from the likes of Sid James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Jim Dale and the undervalued Peter Butterworth.

There's also a real good production from Rogers. Armed with £200,000, Rogers assembled a fine wardrobe of period costumes and hired out Clandon Hall, Cliveden House and Waddesdon Manor to give the story its 18th Century feel. It's also a film that asks of its stalwarts to do a little bit more than just say risqué lines and act the goat. Oh it's all still gaudy and simple in premise, for sure, but some nice swordplay and derring-do from the boys shouldn't go unnoticed. It of course is just like most of the others they made, a cheeky romp, but to me it's proof positive that the "Carry On" series had some crackers mixed in with the dregs. Sit back and romp with the rompers I say. 7.5/10
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on 17 May 2013
This was one of the best period Carry On films, originally released in 1966. It is set during the French Revolution and is a parody of the Scarlet Pimpernel stories. It stars Sid James as Lord Ffing, a.k.a The Black Fingernail and, among others, the inimitable Kenneth Williams as his nemesis and head of the French Secret Police, Citizen Camembert. It also features Peter Butterworth in a larger than usual role and Jim Dale, as the Black Fingernail's partner in crime. I have always enjoyed this film and I still find myself laughing when I watch it now and at the exact same scenes too. I can completely recommend it to anyone interested in the Carry On films, or classic British comedy in general. It is a cut above most of their 70s output and one of their best overall. I give this four stars, without any hesitation or criticisms at all. Superb film!
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on 5 August 2010
Carry on watching this really good "version" of The Scarlet Pimpernel or The Black Fingernail aka Sid James. This has all the usual charm and fun of the Carry On team, with good old Sid James as the hero of the hour.

From one chop to the next, the French Revolution is reinacted in a way of that only the Carry On team can! Watch the regulars work their perfectly timed one-liners on us again and again, wearing some great costumes. It's so very entertaining and funny from start to finish, I cannot think of a better Carry On film to compare it with. Starring: Sid James, Bernard Bresslaw, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Joan Simms to name but a few. Good old fashioned fun!
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on 4 January 2015
Some of the Carry On films are really bad but there are a few which I think are very funny. This is one of them. Add this to Carry On Teacher, Carry On Up The Khyber and Carry On Screaming and you have a fun collection.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2014
Very Funny send up of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Not all of the regular Carry Ons are present in this film, but those who are really do their bit of having a great laugh as the Black Fingernail, Sir Roger Ffing with two Fs (Sid James) and his sidekick, Lord Darcy (Jim Dale) travel into the heart of the French Revolution to rescue Lords and Ladies, and Men and Women of both sexes from Madam La Guillotine. Opposing them is Citizen Camembert (Kenneth Williams) and his loony sidekick Citizen Bidet (Peter Butterworth) aided by Camembert's sister played by the lovely Joan Sims. Adding glamour to the proceedings is Dany Robin as a French princess whom The Fingernail attempts to rescue, fails and spends the rest of the film trying to free her from Camembert. Overall, it is a very funny film, there are some hilarious moments, the duel between Camembert and Ffing, the rescue of the aristocrats from the guillotine after the executioner has been guillotined in error, and the final scenes in the Chateau de Neuf are wonderfully staged.

Although this film was made during the late '60s, it has stood up well and is still very entertaining today. There are a couple of extras on the disc along with a collectors booklet. Picture and sound are up to standard as well which makes this disc a pretty good buy.
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on 29 December 2011
for some reason this one is hard to find on region 1 format in the us at a decent price, so I found a multi-region dvd player, and now I am able to purchace all of the titles I remember so well. I remember the whole family gathered around the telly laughing at the saucy carry on gang. I haven't seen this one since I left england 30 years ago, but I still laughed so hard I cried. Thanks for the memories.
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