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Carry on Collection (Widescreen) [7 Discs]

Kenneth Williams , Charles Hawtrey , Gerald Thomas , Ralph Thomas    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 403.44
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There's a lovely irony about the way in which the Carry On films are now revered, not only in the evolutionary story of British comedy, but also as an essential ingredient of cultural history. Derided for years for their low humor and conveyor-belt production values--30 films were churned out in just 21 years between 1958 and 1978--they now embody a cozy, innocent, and less sophisticated time. At the heart of their success are two vital ingredients: a virtual repertory company of Britain's finest post-war comic talents and quick-fire, innuendo-laden scripts which somehow become high-octane fuel for side-splitting laughter.

Public institutions, great historical figures, and established entertainment genres provided the main modus operandi, offering limitless potential for the films' staple themes of lust, adultery, and chicanery. Carry On Sergeant kicked off in 1958 with mainstay Charles Hawtrey. Later the same year in Carry On Nurse and in 1959's Carry On Teacher, the basic team quickly gelled with Joan Sims and Kenneth Williams making regular appearances. Leslie Phillips's insatiable predatory comic persona also figured large in these early films. Perhaps the first major milestone, though, came with the arrival of Sid James in 1960's Carry On Constable. With his trademark raucous laugh and a face like a wizened walnut, James would be a major factor in the ongoing success of the films, in which his leering, lascivious, and amoral character would vary only in name.

In 1962, Carry On Cruising marked the team's first foray into color. The following year, the films grew more adventurous and multilayered. Within their admittedly limited parameters, they did explore relationships and were surprisingly radical in their satirizing of women's roles. Hattie Jacques, for example, is best remembered for her fearsome matrons, but in Carry On Cabby (1963) she plays a downtrodden woman who hits back at husband Sid by forming her own taxi company. Carry On Jack (also 1963) found the team taking to the high seas in a Mutiny on the Bounty-style spoof starring Bernard Cribbins, but the next two films found the team at the real peak of its powers. Carry On Spying (1964) introduced Barbara Windsor's giggly buxom blond, a character who naturally fell hand in hand with James's aging Lothario in many of the subsequent films. In Carry On Cleo the same year, Amanda Barrie's deliciously frothy Egyptian queen and Kenneth Williams's saturnine Caesar set new heights for the series. The year 1965 brought Carry On Cowboy, featuring Joan Sims as a feisty saloon girl, while Carry On Screaming (1966) drove a comic stake through the heart of classic Hammer horror flicks.

Today, the Carry On films are seen as a vital component in the linear development of modern British comedy, influencing everything from French & Saunders to the surreal League of Gentlemen. In their time, they provided a much-needed big-screen vehicle for the greatest comic talents of the age. And today that vehicle has become a legacy of wonderful performances, many of them truly subtle. On that level alone, the Carry On films earn their status as a comic institution a hundred times over. --Piers Ford


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming! Jan. 12 2004
Format:DVD
This is one of the most spectacular classic British comedies and a must-have for any Carry On fan. It is, however, unfortunate that all the Carry On moviess have not yet been released in the US in DVD format. I certainly hope they do bring them out soon. The rest of the Carry On collection (starting from where this box set left) is available in UK.
This box set contains the first 12 Carry Ons that were made and a 13th one made as a tribute to all the Carry Ons (That's Carry On). It is needless to say that the cast and crew in them were always spectacular and outrageously hilarious. Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Connor, Jim Dale, Joan Sims all gave stellar performances in each Carry On.
It is rather sad to face the fact that most of this crew is no longer with us. There are few who come close to the facial expressions of Kenneth Williams, his famous flaring nostrils, and his manner of speech, Sid James' famous yak-yak and Charles Hawtrey's "Oh-Hello's" and silly grins, not to mention their extremely natural and hilarious acting. Most of them were talented actors from a very young age. On the bright side, it is good to know that some of them like Barbara Windsor and Jim Dale are still carrying on in the entertainment world.
For all Carry On fans wanting to know more about the lives of these actors and detailed description on each film, there is [...] and there are books on the lives of Sid James, Kenneth Williams (who was a very private and a sad man in real life) and others.
Truly, it is hard to carry on living till the rest of the Carry Ons are released in the US on DVD.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh--Hello ! July 4 2003
Format:DVD
This of course--as any self-respecting Carry On fan will tell you--is Charles Hawtrey's catch-phrase. This box set is only half the story, and hopefully there will be another box coming, with more of these British comedy gems. In the mean time, we have this set of Carry On movies from the late 50s and early 60s to enjoy over and over.
Critics hated these films--the rest of us were too busy laughing at the antics, risque jokes and awful puns to care. As the films were made, various actors came and went--but the key members of the Carry On Gang were--Sidney James ( the owner of the dirtiest laugh in the history of cinema ), Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor, Hattie Jacques and , if this were not enough, plenty of other British comedic actors to keep the laughs coming like Bernard Bresslaw, Jim Dale, Leslie Phillips, Terry Scott, Peter Butterworth, Jack Douglas, Frankie Howerd and on and on. Beautiful women like Shirley Eaton, Liz Fraser and Amanda Barrie were major "pluses" too.
Like any series of films, some were better than others, and fans do not always agree on their favourites. In this package, "Carry On Nurse" is not only a classic, but it really put the series on track because it was a huge hit in many countries. I find "Carry On Constable" to be one of the best with Kenneth Williams and Leslie Phillips both terrific--it also introduces Sid James, who would soon become "Mr.Carry On", although he is rather subdued in this first outing. Even without Sid, "Carry On Screaming" is a winner, with Harry H. Corbett fine in the lead, and Kenneth Williams quite surreal as the "Mad Doctor". "Carry On Cleo" is good fun--by this time, Sid had his "King Leer" act down to perfection.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny grade B British comedies Nov. 2 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD
No one will ever mistake these films for the work of Chaplin or Keaton. The humor is usually about sex, outrageous puns, broad slapstick, movie genre parodies (spies, soldiers, nurses, etc.) silly stuff. They are too long (90 minutes that should have been edited down to 60). The production values are usually cheap. Nevertheless, these are fun and I do laugh out loud at some of the humor. The actors are often far better than the material (Sid James, Ken Connors, and Ken Williams, especially) and are able to turn weak jokes into funny stuff because of their timing and facial expressions. This is a great value and the digital transfers are immaculate. If you are looking for some fluffy comedy that varies in quality but will amuse, then carry on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic British Comedy March 21 2003
By it
Format:DVD
This is the first half of a series of about 25 comedy movies that were very popular in Britain. The comedies lampoon various typical British social settings. To get the full entertainment of the movies you should be familiar with British culture. Those who are not will still find the series entertaining. The comedy is low key and not as strong as Monty Python or Benny Hill.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More fun than a barrel of monkeys! Jan. 8 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD
This is THE perfect collection for that lazy Saturday or Sunday 'do nothing' day. It's witty, charming and the character acting is above reproach (in my humble opinion). It's a whole bunch of nonsense that tickles the funny-bone....sit back and get ready to enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Carried Away with Carry On films Jan. 3 2003
Format:DVD
I first saw "Carry On Nurse" in 1959 and fell in love with the characters. I saw that film several times and followed up with a few other "Carry On" films. I never did get to see all of the series until this wonderful box set came out. It is not a disappointment. The films have been beautifully transferred to DVD and they are as refreshing now as they were 40+ years ago.
For anyone unfamiliar with the series, they are not high brow comedy. Sort of Benny Hill in style. However, a wonderful repertory cast gave us some hilarious and zany moments. Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims, Bob Monkhouse, Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey were the principals involved. This is the sort of film that the British do so well.
I heartily recommend it for a number of laughs.
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