Carry on Cruising (1962)
“That Carry On crew in a luxury laughter cruise!”
Carry on Cruising (1962)
Director: Gerald Thomas
Cast: Kenneth Williams, Sidney James, Kenneth Connor
Synopsis: A ship’s captain hoping for promotion is dismayed to discover his key staff members have been replaced by enthusiastic but incompetent substitutes.
Carry on Cruising, the sixth entry in the excruciatingly long-lasting Carry On comedy franchise, was the first to be filmed in colour but features only a few members of the regular team. Apparently Charles Hawtrey was replaced by Lance Percival (Mrs Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter) after throwing a hissy-fit over billing, while Dilys Laye stepped in for Joan Sims after Sims fell ill shortly before filming was due to begin. This meant that it fell to Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Connor to, ahem, carry on as the team’s only representatives, thereby making the film recognisable as an entry in the franchise.
The crumple-faced South African James (I Was Monty’s Double) plays the captain of a cruise liner who’s hoping to win promotion to the shipping company’s flagship, erm, ship, but who finds his chances hampered by the unexpected replacement of five of his trusted staff members by enthusiastic but incompetent novices. As far as plot goes, that’s about it. But, of course the Carry On movies were never about plot, focusing instead on cramming in as many gags into their running times as possible in the belief that the more gags there were, the greater the number that would find favour with their audience.
In fact, the earlier movies in the series (up to the mid-60s), all had essentially the same plot: a team of dim-witted but enthusiastic novices would find themselves thrown in at the deep end of some profession (teaching, policing, armed forces, etc) and create chaos before somehow coming good in the end. With the arrival of Barbara Windsor and her pneumatic boobs, the series descended into an endless round of crude sexual innuendo which depended more on the public’s fondness for the team’s principal members than the quality of the jokes. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the series paid the price, but back in 1962 the writers were still aiming for a broader range of comedy.
Some of it works, but much of it is a little tiresome, and it’s clear that the series was already beginning to rely heavily on the strength of its stars’ comic personalities. James and Williams (Make Mine Mink, Carry on Spying) were always value for money, and Connor (The Ladykillers, Carry on Cabby) at least manages to keep his twitchy mannerisms to a minimum. Percival, whose only Carry On film this would be, proves to be a major bonus in the role of the ship’s cook who becomes sea-sick whenever he loses sight of the sea (it’s difficult to see the wispy Hawtrey in the role), while dear old Esma Cannon (Carry on Cabby) steals ever scene she’s in as a ‘mad pixie’ with a fondness for a little tipple.
(Reviewed 18th March 2015)