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
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,... Read morePublished on Nov. 2 2003
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. Read morePublished on March 21 2003 by it
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). Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2003
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. Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2003 by D. Clancy
Just a quick note to say that the entire Fawlty Towers collection is available on DVD and Keeping Up Appearances seasons are coming soon. Read morePublished on Dec 26 2002
Not that these would have won any Oscars, but they still create a chuckle. Of course, it helps if you are a "Carry On" fanatic. Read morePublished on Dec 1 2002 by Keith E. Ridley
Not bad for the Carry On series at least it is available in DVD's.
Would really like to see more Region 1 BBC Comedy's in DVD's like Mr. Read more
Here are the key films of this deeply important series, presented in pristine DVD transfers for the first time in the US. Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2002