Carry On Up the Jungle (1970)


A party of Edwardian explorers delve deep into the African interior, where they encounter savage natives, a tribe of sexy women, and man who’s lived in the jungle ever since being abandoned there as a baby…

What’s it spoofing? Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan, who first appeared in the 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes (then numerous sequels). A pair of recent Hammer films – One Million Years B.C. (1966) and Slave Girls (aka Prehistoric Women, 1967) – are also being spoofed. The movie was filmed as Carry On Jungle Boy.

Funniest moment: When under threat of attack by some savages, our characters decide to dig a big pit and lure them into it. They dig for hours, creating a massive hole in the ground. However, as Professor Tinkle then points out when they’ve dug about 10 feet down: “How do *we* get out of this?”

The Big 10:

* Joan Sims (14) plays Lady Evelyn Bagley, an aristocratic woman whose baby went missing years earlier in Africa. In an early scene, two male characters perv on her while she’s having a shower – it’s clearly not Joan Sims in the nudie long shots.

* Charles Hawtrey (18) plays Lady E’s husband, who’s been missing for years – when he’s found 67 minutes into the film, we learn he’s rebranded himself as King Tonka, leader of a local tribe of women.

* Kenneth Connor (9) is back after eight films away from the series. (He’d been busy in the West End.) Here, he plays fruity ornithologist Claude Chumley.

* Sid James (12) plays Bill Boosey, the leader of the expedition who likes a tipple and fancies Lady Evelyn.

* Bernard Bresslaw (7) – it pains me to relate – is blacked up and doing an accent as African guide Upsidasi. Late in the film, in an admittedly effective gag, the character ‘whites up’ so he can sneak into a camp to rescue the others.

Notable others:

* Frankie Howerd headlines the film, playing Professor Inigo Tinkle, an ornithologist. The film is needlessly topped and tailed by scenes of him giving a lecture about his expedition.

* Jacki Piper debuts in the series. June, Evelyn’s maid, meets the Tarzan-like character and soon becomes his Jane. It’s the kind of part Angela Douglas was playing a few films ago.

* Terry Scott is horrendously miscast as Cecil Bagley, aka the Jungle Boy. He only got the part after Jim Dale turned it down, thinking it was a boring role. Scott sucks his stomach in and spends most of the film in a loincloth. He has little dialogue, and the character has some kind of Oedipal fixation on tits. Scott was 42 when this film was made. His parents are played by Joan Sims (39) and Charles Hawtrey (55).

* Valerie Leon plays the leader of the local ‘Amazonians’, the Lubby-Dubby tribe from the Lost World of Aphrodisia. “White men!” she says, practically moistening her knickers, when she first sees the regulars.

Top totty: Valerie Leon, for the third time.

Kenneth Williams says: “In the evening I stayed in to watch Carry On Up The Jungle which was a Carry On which I didn’t appear in. It was quite funny and at one point I was laughing along. I was staggered to see what they got away with!! A snake going up the skirt of Joan Sims! & her look of horror turning to delight!! Kenny Connor was quite marvelous, and Terry Scott was excellent as Tarzan. Sid James doing all the same old tired automaton recitations… nothing at all to do with acting… one asked oneself: ‘How of earth did he get away with it?’ but of course he did, & the incredible thing about his ‘career’ is that it spans everything from South African Boxing [note: this ‘fact’ seems to have been made up by Sid James], the American musical, Revue (Touch & Go) and conventional English theatre, and radio, and TV, and v successful film career. All built on a ‘persona’ but nothing to do with talent.” – Saturday 3 April 1976 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p513)

Review: Even by Carry On standards, the comedy is getting puerile now. The film has a low-ambition studio-bound feel about it, and is tired and pretty charmless. And racist. So, so racist. The worst one so far.

Four Oozlum birds out of 10


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