lost_spook: (Sheila)
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I seem to have developed a sideline in waffling about odd (very odd!), old videos I've picked up in charity shops.  Lately (in addition to keeping my eyes peeled for Blake's 7), I've been hoping to find some of those old, black and white Carry on films.  Yes, I know.  This is not cool by any standards, but then I've never claimed to be...

I found one Saturday - Carry on Teacher

Review, with nearly 50-yr old spoilers

Okay, I wanted to find the very old films because waiting for someone to repeat anything other than the same few obvious titles is not going to get me anywhere & some of these I've only seen once.  (BBC2 or ITV at some point during my childhood tried to work through the whole series and must have got at least half-way there.  I'd seen later films - blame my Dad!) 

When I saw how it started I couldn't help but fall in love with a world where Kenneth Connor and Joan Sims can play the romantic leads.  It's just so... not how things are in films.  And it's not how people think of the Carry ons (Sid James first turns up as the wise, senior character, among other things).

I hesitated about buying this one because my memory of it wasn't good, but it was only 99p.  I was so glad I didn't.  I wouldn't have liked it much when I was younger because a) I hated (still do sometimes) things where characters are humliated / embarrassed and b) by this time I was counting on Joan Sims and Kenneth Connor getting together and they didn't.

So...  Favourite moment (and one of the reasons it feels as though it must have been made a century ago, not nearly 50 years): the headteacher wants to leave his current school and get the post of head at a brand, shiny new school being built by his home town.  He unrolls the design and gazes fondly at it.  And it's one of those 1960s blocks that so many of us were forced to attend and Building Schools for the Future are steadily eliminating.  I very nearly cried instead of laughed.

And it's so old an un-pc that Hattie Jacques can threaten to smack her pupils (although new-fangled softer ideas are being discussed).

It's hardly the best Carry On and it has a startlingly sentimental ending, but there's fun to be had (if you're me, anyway), particularly Joan Sims manhandling Leslie Phillips.  And her break-up with him deserves a round of applause.  Why she abruptly ends up in tears back in his arms at the end, I'm not sure - was there a scene missing? - but it's never in doubt who's going to be in charge in that relationship (he's the woolly psychologist and she's the PE mistress who knows Judo and can punch him halfway down the corridor). 

Narrowly behind this is every scene that involves Charles Hawtrey (as music master Mr Bean - oh, yes!) and Kenneth Williams (as English teacher Mr Milton) bitching bickering about the school play and whether Mr Bean's terrible composition is better than the verbal music of Shakespeare.  Definitely worth the price of entry.  CH's slapping him at the end (and Hattie's Jacques's look) redeems the soppy ending. 

Plus, Kenneth Connor could probably do the shy-guy routine in his sleep by this stage in his career, but it's fun and I liked his little 'scientific experiment' at the end. 

Science Teacher: "That's boral mack- no, it's blackmoral - it's."
Headteacher: Don't get your tongue in a twist, it's just plain blackmail

Food for thought: two pupils caught discussing how to make gunpowder, get let off as it was only for making fireworks.  Can you imagine if school pupils were found trying to make their own fireworks today?  Do I hear the words health and safety? 

I once saw something that nicked the plot off this.  I can't remember what it was, but it seems really hard to believe.  (Kids play tricks to give head teacher a bad reputation and prevent him leaving the school).  I'm not going to talk about sexist attitudes (or split gym knickers, itching powder etc etc), because I was once forced to watch other British 1950s comedies and, believe me, in comparison to some contemporary films, the Carry ons are a real equal opportunities series.  (Well, ish!)

But how Miss Wheeler and Mr Grigg ever actually managed to inspect any schools between them, I have no idea.  In fact, I don't believe it for a minute.

Date: 18 Dec 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swordznsorcery.livejournal.com
So, I started looking at some of your tags, because I don't know, I'm creepy that way. And I saw a Kenneth Connor tag, and it made me smile. I love the black and white Carry On films, and Kenneth Connor was terrific in all of them. He made a whole slew of similar films at the same time, following the same basic blue print; and in their own special way they're all worth watching. Same faces, and practically the same script!

I couldn't help but fall in love with a world where Kenneth Connor and Joan Sims can play the romantic leads.

It's great, isn't it. Happened a lot back then, although if they'd been ten years younger, they'd likely have landed in a different world. Try "Nearly A Nasty Accident", or "Watch Your Stern" some time, if you can. Both have KC as a Naval rating, tripping over things and accidentally winning the day. The latter has Joan Sims as his romantic interest.

He's a very under-rated performer. He got pushed into the background as the Carry Ons aged, but in the black and white era he really got a chance to shine. Films like "Dentist In the Chair" and "Nearly A Nasty Accident" show what a terrific acrobat he was. A bit like Michael Crawford later on, I suppose.

Date: 18 Dec 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swordznsorcery.livejournal.com
I should think you'll enjoy them. A man with an interesting career. He also wrote quite a bit for "The Men From UNCLE", and I recently watched an episode of "Simon & Simon" that had his name in the credits. Possibly he specialised in comedy-drama.


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