A group of holidaymakers go on a £17-all-in trip to the island of Els Bels, but their hotel is not yet finished…
What’s it spoofing? Package holidays and general ‘Brits aboard’ culture clashes.
Funniest moment: “Don’t drink?” “No, I tried it once and didn’t like it.” “Have a smoke?” “I tried it once and didn’t like it.” “Strange.” “Not at all. My daughter’s the same.” “Your only child, I presume.”
The Big 10:
* Sid James (17) plays Vic Flange, a pub landlord who wants to take his girlfriend on holiday – the only problem is, his wife rumbles the plan so unexpectedly comes along too.
* Barbara Windsor (7) plays that girlfriend, Sadie Tomkins. As has become the norm, the actress has some nudity scenes.
* Joan Sims (19) is Vic’s wife, Cora.
* Kenneth Williams (22) plays Stuart Farquhar, who is the holiday group’s tour guide. When affected by a love potion, he has a flirtation with his colleague Moira.
* Kenneth Connor (12) is very funny as hassled and horny husband Stanley Blunt.
* Charles Hawtrey (23) plays mummy’s boy and old soak Eustace Tuttle. This was Hawtrey’s final Carry On film – his final film of any description actually. A combination of drink problems and the fact that he pulled out of the 1972 Christmas special at the last minute meant that the producers dropped him from the series. Until this point he’d missed only one Carry On film (Cruising). He died on 27 October 1988.
* Bernard Bresslaw (11) is sweet as Brother Bernard, a monk whose attentions are turned by one of the group’s young ladies.
* Peter Butterworth (11) plays Pepe, the hotel manager. His mannerisms and accent aren’t a million miles away from Manuel from Fawlty Towers. In order to maintain the illusion that the hotel is staffed by many people, Pepe changes his outfit depending on what role he’s carrying out.
* Hattie Jacques (13) is fiery cook Floella. Like in Carry On At Your Convenience, the majority of her scenes are separate from the main storyline – here she only really interacts with Butterworth.
* Jack Douglas, in effect, reprises his role from Carry On Matron. He appears at the start and end of the film as Harry, a pub customer who’s prone to dramatic nervous twitches. One of them, in which he spills an entire pint of beer in one seamless motion then asks for another, is very funny.
* Patsy Rowlands plays Miss Dobbs, another assistant of a character played by Kenneth Williams. She’s amusingly glum.
* Sally Geeson and Carol Hawkins plays Lily and Marge, two young girls on holiday together. Geeson was recommended for the part by her Bless This House co-star Sid James.
* Gail Grainger glides through the film as the serene, unflappable Moira Plunkett. It’s odd that Valerie Leon didn’t play this role as it seems to have been written specifically for her.
* June Whitfield returns to the series after a long gap – we haven’t seen her since 1959’s Carry On Nurse. Here she plays Mrs Blunt, who’s so straitlaced she’s not keen on sharing a hotel room with her husband. However, after a sexual encounter with the barman she soon loosens up.
* John Clive and David Kernan play two friends holidaying together. The exact nature of their relationship is hard to fathom. Nicholas Phipps is attracted to girls, while Robin Tweet clearly isn’t – but whether the former is aware of the latter’s tastes is uncertain.
* Jimmy Logan plays brash Scotsman Bert Conway, who’s travelling alone but isn’t slow to make friends with everyone. He says ‘jings’ a couple of times.
* Ray Brooks plays Georgio, the barman son of Pepe and Floella.
Top totty: Sally Geeson’s very pretty.
Kenneth Williams says: “Pinewood at 7.40. The first day, for me, of Carry On Abroad. If you’d told me in ’58 that I’d still be coming out to Pinewood to make these films I’d have said you were mad. Though it was the first day, there was an air of staleness over everything. A feeling of ‘I have been here before’ and I thought the acting standard was rather bad throughout.” – Tuesday 18 April 1972 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p423)
“We saw the Carry On Abroad film which was made in ’72 & I noticed that there were quite a few cuts! It wasn’t all that bad considering the circumstances but the cast reminded one how unlovely the actors were. Not a dish to be seen. Kenny Connor was wonderfully diverting: he always has something singular to offer & this performance was delightful. Nobody else was v. good, apart from Joan Sims in the bed sequence and the pub, both v. authentic. I was all faces & jerks and old looking. The only think (ironically) I did that was funny was manipulate the exploding switchboard [Williams was notoriously poor with props].” – Sunday 8 January 1978 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p555)
Review: No sooner have the group arrived at the hotel than we get a succession of women in bras and bikinis; people bursting into the wrong rooms and seeing things they shouldn’t; and really corny jokes and situations… But it’s all done with a huge sense of fun. Like in Carry On At Your Convenience, the fact the actors are enjoying themselves shines through. It’s a shame the exteriors were so obviously shot in dreary UK weather, but perhaps the cheap-and-cheerful vibe only makes the whole thing more likable. Of the 10 most regular Carry On stars, only Jim Dale (who’d left the series in 1969) is missing – yet this is more or less the last time the core gang were together. It’s entertaining stuff.
Eight Santa Cecilias Elixirs out of 10