Carry On Emmannuelle (1978)

Emmannuelle

The wife of the French ambassador comes to see him in London and shags around…

What’s it spoofing? The Emmanuelle series of erotic films. So far there’d been Emmanuelle (1974), Emmanuelle 2 (1975) and Goodbye Emmanuelle (1977); another four followed after this spoof. The Carry On team changed the spelling to avoid legal issues. Also influential, one assumes, were the sex-comedy series Confessions of a… (1974-1977) and Adventures of a… (1976-1978).

Funniest moment: Leyland asks hard-of-hearing footman Richmond, “You for coffee?” He replies, “No, thanks. I’m staying here.”

The Big 10:

* Kenneth Williams (26) stays loyal to the series through thick and increasingly thin. He plays Emile Prevert, the French ambassador to the UK. After a parachuting accident, he can no longer adequately pleasure his wife, so she spends her days seeking thrills elsewhere. This was the actor’s final Carry On appearance – he died on 15 April 1988.

* Joan Sims (24) plays Mrs Dangle, the household’s cook. This was similarly Sims’s last Carry On. She died on 27 June 2001.

* Peter Butterworth (16) plays Richmond, the ancient footman. Emmannuelle is also Butterworth’s final work on the series – he died on 16 January 1979, just two months after this film opened.

* Kenneth Connor (17) plays saucy chauffeur Leyland. Again, this is Connor’s Carry On swansong – he died on 28 November 1993.

* The producers had hoped Barbara Windsor would play four distinct roles – each of the women featured in three fantasy flashback scenes, as well as a nurse. Depending on which source you favour, however, either the filming dates clashed with an overseas holiday or Windsor refused to do the film because she thought it was pornographic.

Notable others:

* Suzanne Danielle is the film’s lead – the sex-mad, inhibition-light, worry-free Emmannuelle Prevert. She’s not awful, but it’s a pathetically written role. Her character in Cannon & Ball’s 1982 film The Boys in Blue isn’t much better. No wonder she gave up acting and married a golfer.

* Larry Dann (who’d also been in Carry On Teacher, Carry On Behind and Carry On England) plays Theodore Valentine, a shy guy who has a quickie with Emmannuelle then develops an obsession with her.

* Jack Douglas refrains from any twitching to play the Preverts’ butler, Lyons.

* Beryl Reid plays Theodore’s fussy mother.

* Bruce Boa appears as the US ambassador. In the actor’s near future were turns in Fawlty Towers (“Would you make me a Waldorf Salad?”), The Empire Strikes Back and Octopussy.

* Joan Benham from Upstairs, Downstairs cameos as a woman at a dinner party.

* Steve Plytas – who three years earlier had played drunk chef Kurt in Fawlty Towers (“But he didn’t have Manuel as a model, eh?”) – is an Arabian party guest.

* Claire Davenport plays the large lady Leyland picks up in a pub. Davenport is yet another Fawlty Towers alumnus: she’d been in the episode The Germans in 1975 (“He means *the drill* hasn’t started yet.”).

Top totty: Tricia Newby plays a nurse who gets her tits out in order to excite Kenneth Williams’s libido. The actress also had to flash them in Carry On England.

Kenneth Williams says: “Gerald Thomas [director] gave me lunch. He talked to me about the Carry On Emmannuelle script; it sounds pretty dirty. ‘We really miss old Sid James,’ he said, ‘he was cuddly & warm’ (you could have fooled me) ‘and there are so few like him.’ Then he saw Jimmy Tarbuck at another table and said ‘He’d got that quality!’ & I said ‘Yes! he is cuddly & warm & I think he’s smashing…’” – Monday 19 December 1977 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p553)

“Read the revised Carry On script. If anything, it’s worse than before & the dialogue clumsy, inept and not a good joke anywhere. Peter [Eade, his agent] said ‘They are willing to pay you six thousand but if you want a car they will dock it from your salary.’ I said no thanks, and told him ‘Better settle for 5,750 and have them do the car at their expense.’ I’m not having my money whittled away in such an unforeseeable fashion.” – Thursday 30 March 1978 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p557)

Review: This movie was made in four weeks – four weeks! – and it really shows. It’s a bizarre, witless, unpleasant, aimless folly. And it’s strangely unerotic. Sex is suggested or off-screen, while there’s no more nudity than any of the previous few Carry Ons. (If seeing Kenneths Connor and Williams is states of undress is your thing, though, then this is the film for you.) The big change is that characters talk openly about wanting or having sex. Innocence has become in-your-face. Innuendo has become in-your-end-oh! It’s pathetic. The best thing about the whole enterprise might be the jaunty, Bee Gees-style theme song.

One Concorde out of 10

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