Carry on Cabby (1963)
“You’ll strip your gears laughing at . . . Carry on Cabby”
Director: Gerald Thomas
Cast: Sidney James, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Connor
Synopsis: Speedee Taxis is a great success, which means its workaholic owner Charlie starts neglecting Peggy, his wife.
When Carry on Cabby, the seventh Carry On movie, was made the series was still relatively respectable. So this one has a fairly strong plotline (by Carry On standards) around which the jokes are constructed, rather than the other way around which is how it was once the quality began to decline (sometime around the late 1960s or early 1970s). By the time the likes of Carry On Abroad (1972) came along, the series had become nothing more than a series of smutty set-piece jokes.
Sid James takes centre stage in this one, playing Charlie Hawkins, the workaholic husband of Peggy (infrequent Carry On collaborator Hattie Jacques). Peggy’s feeling a little starved of attention because Charlie devotes all his time to his thriving cab company and the oddball assortment of drivers he employs. So when he breaks one promise too many, Peggy takes her revenge by starting up her own taxi cab firm which employs only nubile young dolly birds (as nubile young chicks were then known), whose willingness to use their obvious assets to lure fares into their cabs inevitably brings Charlie’s company to its knees in a matter of weeks.
A Carry On film which has the theme of female empowerment at its core is something of an oxymoron, but fear not: the franchise doesn’t stray far from its seaside postcard roots. Candidates for the position of driver with Peggy’s Glam Cabs are judged not by their driving skills, but the shape of their legs and size of their breasts. This entry is one of the better movies in the series, but it could have been even better had the producers found roles for regular contributors Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor. Apparently Williams was offered the role of the trades union official Allbright, but turned it down because he felt it was inferior (it was subsequently cut down and given to Norman Chappell). Windsor, of course, was yet to make her debut in the series.
(Reviewed 22nd May 2012)