Dir: Gerald Thomas, 1970
It’s difficult to believe, but Carry On Loving was the twentieth film in the much loved series.
Starting a mere twelve years earlier, filmmaking duo Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas had managed to crank out the films at the pace of two to three a year.
It could be argued that that’s quite an accomplishment, but considering the budget they were given and the filming time, the quality isn’t exactly The Godfather so the argument doesn’t hold water.
But the series didn’t need mega budgets. The cheapness of it all is part of the charm. Knowing that when everybody is in Spain soaking up the sun, the cast and crew are actually round the corner of Pinewood studios, using the nearest location to double up.
Carry On Loving is one of the cheaper films, needing very little location shooting and not much thought into the plot.
Sid Bliss (Sid James) and Sophie Plummett (Hattie Jacques) profess to be husband and wife when, in reality, they are not married. The couple run a, largely unsuccessful, matchmaking agency called “Wedded Bliss”.
Sid has desires on a client of theirs, Esme Crowfoot (Joan Sims) and will use any excuse to prevent her being paired up with anyone.
The film progresses with an assortment of people trying to use the agency with very little luck.
Carry On Loving is really just a sketch film with the agency used to tie it all together.
This isn’t always a bad thing as much of it is very funny (a cameo by Peter Butterworth as a character called Dr. Crippen is the highlight of the film). However, it does feel a bit haphazard and cheap, like a ragbag of rejected jokes that screenwriter Talbot Rothwell couldn’t work into the previous films.
Supporting this is the lack of an ending. Rothwell’s well of ideas was in a drought, so he has the entire cast throwing pies at each other. With very little dialogue to carry the scene, it’s simply silent slapstick of the sort you may find in a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton movie. It’s more Keystone Cops than Carry On.
It may not be surprising but the Carry On films were a bit of a thorn in the side of the British censors and many of them were subjected to cuts. Some examiners even argued for an ‘X’ certificate!
This entry into the series was one of the luckier ones with minimal cuts being applied. Sid James’s retort, “you can do a lot with your little finger” to an irate Terry Scott was removed, causing a rather sudden jump in the film and a jar in the soundtrack which still persists today.
Eagle eyed viewers can spot a very young Mike Grady who, later, became better known as Barry from Last Of The Summer Wine as one half of the kissing couple.
Funny and silly, it’s not one of the best but it will give you enough laughs to be worth your while.