Saturday, March 5, 2011

AFI/BFI #214: Carry On... Up The Khyber (1968)

Director: Gerald Thomas
Writer: Talbot Rothwell, Larry (Terrence Parks)
Composer: Eric Rogers
AFI Rank:  -
BFI Rank: 99


      77%
           

In 1958 the unsuspecting British public was introduced to its first taste of the Carry On franchise, Carry On Sergeant. Over the next 20 years there would be another 28 films full of the same innuendo, slapstick and, for the most part, cast members. Whether you consider them good or not they were a huge part of british culture and are maybe even more interesting today as some sort of social history. Certainly they can no longer be considered risque.

I am sure you are wondering why, given this is a blog about the worlds most critically acclaimed movies, I am telling you all of this. Well there is a tidal sized wave of nostalgia in britain for the Carry On movies. They hold a special place in many people's hearts, even if they haven't watched one for decades. So without any further ado allow me to introduce #99 on the BFI's Top 100 british movies, the 16th and what many consider best film of the whole series, Carry On… Up The Khyber.

The usual cast is all present with the exception of Jim Dale, the voice of the Harry Potter books in the US. Picking up the slack is Roy Castle in his only Carry On appearance but you can tell the part was meant for Jim. There is much more of a story than any of the other films and it deals tongue in cheek with the fall of the british empire, something that was still happening when the film was made. The stiff upper lip dinner party finale helps raise this above the other films and remains more enduring and timeless than should be expected.

Roy Castle, Sid James, Julian Holloway & Peter Butterworth
If any Carry On deserves to be on the BFI's list, and I am not convinced one should, then this is the obvious choice. Watching today it is still entertaining and mostly harmless. Not required viewing by any extent but certainly a real glimpse into british culture in the 60s and 70s.

Finding Carry On films in the US used to be almost impossible, surprising considering the success of Benny Hill and Are You Being Served. Amazon just rectified that and most of them are now available for streaming. If you have never seen one then give it a try. I would be interested in hearing how they come across without the benefit of all that nostalgia.

       

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