Dir: Gerald Thomas, 1973
By the time this 25th entry in the series arrived, the popularity was beginning to wane.
Talbot Rothwell’s scripts were becoming nearer to the knuckle than ever before and started to border on perviness rather than sauciness.
The innocence was ebbing away but cinema was getting tough with films like Percy (ironically, directed by Gerald’s brother, Ralph), Pete Walker’s Cool It, Carol! and Au Pair Girls. Confessions Of A Window Cleaner and Rosie Dixon – Night Nurse would appear not long after.
Struggling against the tide of X-rated sex comedies, the Carry On series had to do something to keep up (saucy!).
The seaside town of Fircombe is losing tourism and, more importantly, money.
Councillor Sid Fiddler (Sid James) suggests staging a beauty pageant, much to the chagrin of militant feminst councillor and leader of Fircombe’s Women’s Lib group, Mrs. Augusta Prodworthy (June Whitfield).
A beauty pageant is something that you would have thought was high up on the list of ideas for a Carry On film, but it took all that time for the producers to catch on.
More risque than the previous films, Carry On Girls has its moments of guffaws but, also, its moments of tawdriness.
Regular cast members appear and disappear with little to no explanation or are forced into the role of a dirty old man, without being given much of a script.
Peter Butterworth is wasted, here, as a permanent resident, the Admiral. Ogling and leering at the bevy of buxom beauties, Butterworth is depicted as a serial sexual assaulter, jamming his finger into crevices and orifices of the unassuming girl, who happened to be unlucky enough to occupy the same lift.
One of the more ridiculous in the series, Bernard Bresslaw is made to dress up as a woman and partake in the contest and is unable to be differentiated from Valerie Leon.
Silly antics and implausibilities aside, this is, arguably, one of the more politically incorrect of the 31 made.
Comedian Jimmy Logan has small role as the producer and director of a TV show, arriving in Fircombe to televise contestants. As Cecil Gaybody, Logan minces and prances with an overexaggerated camp, akin to a portryal that even John Inman would ask to tone down. However, Sid James provides a decent laugh when he mistakes his name for Gayboy.
But, it’s all funny. The character is so stereotypical it crosses into the preposterous. You shouldn’t be offended. There’s no malice or spite. It’s just good old tradition, harking back to the days of music hall.
For a franchise that is nearing its demise, Carry On Girls is one of the better outputs, but you can clearly see the strains of trying to keep things fresh and original.
Overall, an enjoyable outing but not one you would want to revisit too often.