Frenzy (1972)

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An occasional series where I review a randomly selected movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock…

Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

An innocent man must go on the run when he’s accused of being a serial killer…

Hitchcock comes home. The opening image of his penultimate film is a long, slow helicopter shot down the Thames and past Tower Bridge. The story then plays out in recognisably London locations such as Covent Garden (filmed just three years before the famous fruit-and-veg market moved out), Oxford Street, Leicester Square and Park Lane.

But this is not Hitchcock giving his hometown a Hollywood sheen. This is the down-and-dirty London of the early 1970s. Perhaps it’s the film stock, or the British weather, or the 1970s fashions, or deliberate choices by Hitchcock and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor (A Hard Day’s Night, Dr Strangelove, The Omen, Star Wars) – but whatever the reason, Frenzy is a tough, uncompromising, seedy and vivid film alive with working-class life. You can smell the sweat and feel the grime. This is a world of sex murders and perversion, back-street boozers and alcoholics, fry-ups and fags, roadside cafes and enormous bank notes. It looks like an episode of The Sweeney. It’s absolutely compelling.

The storyline is a Hitchcock standard – innocent man gets caught up in events out of his control – but the movie twists the idea from the playfulness of North by Northwest into a dangerous, threatening and explicit plot about a sadistic serial killer. Former RAF pilot Richard Blaney (an angry but not unsympathetic Jon Finch) is down on his luck. We first see him getting fired from a crummy job by landlord Bernard Cribbins, then when his friend Bob Rusk (an excellent Barry Foster) gives him a dead-cert racing tip, Richard doesn’t have the cash to make the bet. So he goes to visit his ex-wife, Brenda (Barbara Leigh-Hunt). She takes pity on him and gives him some money… but that only makes Richard look guilty when Barbara is later raped and strangled by a serial killer known as the Necktie Murderer.

With the police assuming he killed his ex, Richard goes into a panic. Bob offers help, as does former colleague Babs (Anna Massey) and an old pal from his RAF days (Clive Swift, with a terrifically tart Billie Whitelaw as his wife). But the circumstantial evidence against Richard begins to mount up – and then Babs is also found raped and strangled.

By this point, the real killer has been revealed to we viewers… Earlier, Bob Rusk visits Barbara in her office. At first all charm and friendliness, he begins to get more and more lecherous and aggressive. Telling her he’s locked the front door, he rapes her and strangles her to death. The two actors, working with understandably challenging material, make the scene easily the most harrowing moment in Hitchcock’s filmography because of its awful verisimilitude. It’s very difficult to watch. Rusk’s second attack in the film is shot more obliquely, but is no less terrifying. Playing the harmless friend again, he lures Babs up to his flat. But the camera doesn’t follow them inside. Instead, after he closes the door, it slowly retraces its steps down the stairs, out of the hallway and into the busy Covent Garden streets. Life is going on as normal, unaware of the monster under their noses.

Frenzy is a dark film, there’s no getting away from it. But there are also flashes of gallows humour and whimsy, as you’d expect from Hitchcock. A sustained scene of absurd grimness comes when a frantic Bob must wrestle with Babs’s corpse in the back of a potato van because he’s left some vital evidence on her. The copper on the case, meanwhile, is Chief Inspector Oxford (Alec McGowen) who précises the plot while attempting to eat one of his eccentric wife’s pretentious dinners.

These moments are vital. They give the film extra life and a dynamism that would otherwise be missing. They also show a playwright’s hand at work. Based on a 1966 novel, the script was written by Anthony Shaffer (who also wrote The Wicker Man). His attitude to dialogue – an attention to the rhythm of everyday speaking – gives a real sparkle to everything, which means you’re gripped from the first moment. Hitchcock makes sure you never lose interest.

Nine men listening to a political speech out of 10

Dracula A.D. 1972 (Alan Gibson, 1972)

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An occasional series where I write about works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: There’s a short prologue set in London’s Hyde Park on 18 September 1872: Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) is killed by his arch-enemy Lawrence Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). A disciple of the vampire (Christopher Neame) then collects his ring and some of his ashes… Cut to a hundred years later, and for most of the film it’s inescapably, joltingly, face-slappingly 1972. The story takes place in London, mostly around the King’s Road area of Chelsea.

Faithful to the novel? This is often assumed to be another sequel to Hammer Films’ 1958 version of Dracula, but not so. The events of the prologue don’t match up to any previous movie and this is actually a reboot of the series. In 1972, a man called Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame again) has inveigled himself with a group of young, happening hippies. He convinces them to go to an abandoned church and perform a dark-magic ceremony. Most of the friends are freaked out and flee before the ceremony is complete, but it’s successful and Count Dracula is resurrected. The next day, the friends are worried about one of their group, Laura Bellows (Caroline Munro), who’s gone missing. She was actually Dracula’s first victim, and after her body is found a copper called Murray (Michael Coles) is assigned to the case. The death especially upsets Laura’s friend Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham, sporting a very strange haircut). She’s the granddaughter of academic Lorrimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing again), who in turn is the grandson of the 1872 Van Helsing. Lorrimer and Murray soon team up and work out that Johnny Alucard is an acolyte of Dracula (the big clue: read Johnny’s surname backwards). Meanwhile, the Count and Johnny are killing other members of the gang. Dracula really wants Jess, as revenge for what the Van Helsing family have done to him, so uses Alucard (who’s now a vamp himself) to lure her to the church. Lorrimer, though, sets a trap and kills him.

Best performance: It would be needless to point out that Peter Cushing was an actor who knew what he was doing. (It might be less obvious to say that this was only his second Dracula film with Christopher Lee. After both appearing in the 1958 movie, they’d split the subsequent entries in the series until now.) Stephanie Beacham’s also impressive as Jessica. But the star of the show is Christopher Neame. With a sneering face and flamboyant outfits, he preens and glides through the film, like some kind of malevolent Doctor Who.

Best bit: The ceremony to resurrect Dracula… Johnny has drawn a pentangle on the floor of an abandoned church then switches on a tape recording of spooky sound effects and hypnotic, Pink Floyd-style music. While Johnny recites an incantation, calling out to the long-dead Count Dracula, the gang of pals get lost in the moment (all aside from Philip Miller’s Bob, who tries to cop a feel of Caroline Munro). Smoke swirls around Johnny… The camera zooms in on a terrified Jessica… Outside, a grave bulges as its occupant wakes up…. Johnny wants Jessica to play the ‘sacrifice’ of the ritual, but Laura insists on doing it instead. She lies back on the altar, both her eyes and her cleavage pulsing with anticipation, while Johnny cuts his own wrist and pours the blood into a cup. He then tips the thick, coagulated contents of the cup over Laura’s chest. The others are so freaked out that they flee the church. Then, in a swirl of smoke and scored by music that’s aping the crescendo of the Beatles song A Day in the Life, Count Dracula appears. He bites Laura’s neck as Johnny watches on. In a perverse sexual twist, Laura seems to enjoy the experience…

Review: This marvellous movie is a real treat – much more fun and vibrant than a typical Hammer film, it’s directed with panache, paced very well, and has some fine performances. Most noticeably, of course, it’s set in the modern day rather than the vaguely Victorian world of the company’s earlier Draculas. The 1970s-ness seeps out of every pore of the film: the fashions, the locations, the attitudes. The music, for example, could hardly be any more of its time. Mike Vickers’s score is all Blaxploitation wah-wah guitar and horn sections, while a forgotten pop group called Stoneground appear in an early party scene. Also, the main characters are young (maybe teens, maybe twenties), carefree and happy hippies. It’s a representation of early 70s youth culture – or at least a version of it cooked up by middle-aged filmmakers – and that’s not something Hammer was famed for. But whether or not it’s true to life, it works. The film has bags of charm and is enormously enjoyable. The key is that it’s not patronising anyone. The kids don’t come across as dull clichés (which they are, after all). The lead police character is a decent, smart guy who likes playing with executive toys. Van Helsing is far from a reactionary old man (showing concern for his granddaughter, he just looks uncomfortable when she assures him she’s never dropped acid). And most importantly the film assumes the viewer wants scares, style and storytelling – and they get all three. Fantastic stuff.

Eight tickets for the jazz spectacular at the Albert Hall out of 10

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972, J Lee Thompson)

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Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

Where, when and what: Eighteen years have passed since Escape From the Planet of the Apes – ie, it’s now a 1970s vision of what 1991 might be like – but we’re still in the United States. The action mostly takes place in an unidentified city with Brutalist architecture and big blue skies. It seems to be a police state, with Tannoy announcements about potential crimes and fascist cops prowling the concrete city centre. Its military control rooms, meanwhile, look like the Death Star from Star Wars. We’re told that, in 1983, a disease killed off all the world’s cats and dogs. Because humanity couldn’t cope without domestic pets, apes were kept instead. However, people then started giving them chores to perform…

Humans: Armando the circus owner (Ricardo Montalbán) is back from the previous film and is still secretly looking after Caesar, the child of intelligent apes from the future. After being intimidated and tortured by the suspicious authorities, Armando is killed while trying to flee… Meanwhile, the city is being run by the cruel and arrogant Governor Breck (Don Murray), who desperately wants to prevent any ape uprising. His advisor MacDonald (Hari Rhodes) is a kinder, more levelheaded man. Tasked with finding Caeser, he actually helps the ape escape, then counsels peace once a revolution begins.

Apes: Milo, the ape born at the end of the previous movie, is now 18 years old – and has been renamed Caesar. (He’s played by Roddy McDowall, who of course played the character’s father in earlier films.) When he and Armando arrive in the nameless city, Caesar is told the backstory about the cats and dogs: it seems the news of the devastating worldwide epidemic didn’t reach the circus. However, seeing an ape being mistreated by the police, Caesar can’t resist shouting out in protest and revealing that he can talk. With the cops now looking for him, he hides in a cage with other apes but ends up a facility where the authorities carry out bizarre tortures and experiments on primates. Caesar is then auctioned off like a slave – Breck, who suspects Caesar is the ape they’re all looking for, bids $1,500 and wins. Caesar soon begins a rebellion by inciting the other apes to disobey their masters and generally cause chaos. Eventually, the rebels square off against the military – both are armed and there’s a battle. Caesar’s side is victorious and he gives a rousing speech about the apes’ liberated future. (Then, in further dialogue added during post-production, concedes that not all humans are evil so maybe we should all just try to get along, okay?) They only other ape character of note is Lisa, who catches Caesar’s eye then is later the first ape other than Caesar to speak. She shouts, “No!” during the rebellion. Lisa is played by Natalie Trundy, who was married to the producer and played other roles in this series.

Review: This film builds its world better than it tells a story. The opening sequences, for example, have some great visual moments and little vignettes to explain the society of 1991. But things soon get quite boring. It doesn’t help that lead character Caesar has to pretend to be mute for so long – and then mostly hangs out with non-speaking apes. The actual moment where he begins his rabble-rousing is actually skipped over, presumably because it would be an odd thing to dramatise. (How does he convey his revolutionary ideas to apes who don’t understand English?) The last half hour is then action-heavy and has little to do with character or storytelling. Also, the film is generally more heavy-handed than the earlier entries in the series. The obvious analogy with slavery, for example, is made explicit a couple of times: we’re told that black character MacDonald “above all others” should understand that the apes are being mistreated. Not awful but not great.

Five lousy human bastards out of 10

Blacula (1972, William Crain)

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An occasional series where I write about works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: After a prologue at Castle Dracula in 1780, we cut to the modern day (ie, the early 1970s). There’s a scene in Transylvania, then the bulk of the film takes place in Los Angeles.

Faithful to the novel? No, but Count Dracula appears in the prologue (played by Charles Macaulay). He’s entertaining two dignitaries from Africa, but offends them by defending the slave trade. Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) gets annoyed so Dracula responds by turning him into a vampire (“You shall be… Blacula!”) and locking him up in a coffin… Two centuries later, American interior decorators called Bobby and Billy (Ted Harris and Rick Metzler) buy up the contents of the now abandoned Castle Dracula and take the coffin to LA, where Mamuwalde awakens. Interestingly, the interior decorators have heard of Dracula and have “seen all his movies”. After Mamuwalde kills Bobby, a mourner called Tina (Vonetta Williams) just happens to be a dead ringer for the vampire’s long-dead wife. This plot device is now a standard part of the Dracula mythology, but this movie is one of its earliest appearances – maybe the earliest. Mamuwalde kills again and woos Tina. Her friend Jack (Thalmus Rasulala), meanwhile, is a cop who investigates the deaths.

Best performance: The 6’4” William Marshall was a well-respected actor, known for both Shakespeare and Star Trek (he’s in an 1968 episode called The Ultimate Computer). He gives Mamuwalde dignity and strength, and the character is almost sympathetic. Aware of the racial significance – rather shockingly, Mamuwalde is cinema’s first ever black vampire – Marshall insisted on the character’s backstory being changed from a tourist to an African nobleman.

Best bit: Singer Ketty Lester has a fun cameo as a feisty cab driver who is turned by Mamuwalde (“You’re the only imbecile on this street… boy!”), but the vampire’s attack on a woman in a darkroom has good shock value.

Review: This film has a low budget and, in some areas, a low ambition. The direction is often more like TV than a vampire movie. A plot point concerning a minor character with mirrored sunglasses, for example, is lost because of poor storytelling. And the cast is quite variable. But the movie has its charms. There’s a hip, jazzy score by Gene Page, while scenes at a nightclub allow full-length performances by The Hues Corporation (of Rock The Boat fame). The story is also played straight, even if the vampire make-up can be unintentionally funny… Blacula was part of a wave of films in the 1970s known as the blaxploitation genre: a subset of movie featuring largely black casts, urban settings and modern music. And it doesn’t shy away from cultural issues. Count Dracula is a pointedly racist character, but Jack is a respected policeman (and none of the white characters has an issue with that). Also Bobby and Billy are gay and while there is the odd homophobic insult, the film generally presents them as decent, sympathetic characters. There’s also an interesting climax to the story. Having seen Tina killed by a stray bullet, Mamuwalde actually commits suicide by walking into the sunlight… An entertaining if flawed 90 minutes.

Six Bloody Marys out of 10

Next time: Scream Blacula Scream

Carry On Christmas (or Carry On Stuffing) (TV special, ITV, 20 December 1972)

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A group of friends – the Pudding Club – relate various stories while having a Christmas meal…

What’s it spoofing? Nineteenth-century dinner parties, the Adam and Eve myth, the colonial era, Elizabethan chamber music and eighteenth-century folk tale Aladdin.

Funniest moment: Hattie Jacques’s Fairy Queen makes it clear she doesn’t think much of her dialogue in the Aladdin skit.

The cast: Charles Hawtrey was originally cast in this but – given the absence of Sid James – demanded top billing. It was refused, so he dropped out at the 11th hour and never worked for the Carry On team again. His roles were split between Norman Rossington and Brian Oulton.

* Peter Butterworth: Sir Francis Fiddler, Captain Dripping, Lieutenant Trembler and Hole in One

* Kenneth Connor: Sir Henry, Lieutenant Bangem and Hanky Poo

* Barbara Windsor: Eve, Virginia, Maid and Aladdin

* Joan Sims: Lady Rhoda Cockhorse, Mother, Esmeralda and Princess YoYo

* Hattie Jacques: Miss Molly Coddle, Lady Vera, Harriet and The Good Fairy

* Jack Douglas: Mr Perkin, Adam, Tomkins, Ringworm and King of the Underworld

* Valerie Leon: Serving Wench

* Norman Rossington: General Sir Ffingham Clodhopper and Genie

* Brian Oulton: Oriental Orator

* Billy Cornelius: Waiter

* Valeria Stanton: Demon King’s Vision

Top totty: Valerie Leon and her French-maid sexiness.

Review: This feeble TV special is another sketch show – all the skits are of a historical nature, all are very silly, and most go on far too long. One of them, which is set in Africa, also plainly nicks gags from Carry On Up The Jungle and Carry On… Up The Khyber. It’s not clear if this is the equivalent of a band playing their old hits again or whether it’s assumed the audience will have forgotten the jokes. Maybe the most interesting thing about the show is the use of then-state-of-the-art video effects – we get speeded-up footage, shots played backwards and primitive green-screen composites. It’s quite charming just how much it’s all dated.

Four Hampton Courts out of 10

Carry On Abroad (1972)

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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.

Notable others:

* 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

Carry On Matron (1972)

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A criminal gang targets Finisham Maternity Hospital, specifically its supply of contraceptive pills…

What’s it spoofing? Hospital life. Again.

Funniest moment: Wanting to prove his masculinity, Sir Bernard Cutting visits Matron in her room and aggressively woos her – all the while, their colleague Francis Goode is hiding in the wardrobe.

The Big 10:

* Sid James (16) plays Sid Carter, the jocular leader of the criminals.

* Bernard Bresslaw (10) gets another dopey sidekick role: Ernie Bragg. When his pal drags up as a nurse, Ernie keeps telling him how nice he looks.

* Hattie Jacques (12) plays a Matron with a dry sense of humour. She fancies Sir Bernard but also enjoys illicit TV-watching sessions with Francis Goode.

* Kenneth Williams (21) is hospital boss Sir Bernard Cutting, a hypochondriac doctor who comes to believe he’s turning into a woman. For some reason.

* Kenneth Connor (11) has a featured cameo as Mr Tidey, a uniformed railway worker who’s constantly waiting for his wife to give birth. Connor is using an accent similar to the one he later deployed in Hi-De-Hi.

* Barbara Windsor (6) is Nurse Susan Ball, which is a fairly thankless role.

* Joan Sims (18) plays Mrs Tidey, who’s pregnant and overdue but is more concerned with eating non-stop.

* Charles Hawtrey (22) plays vague but cheerful psychiatrist Francis A Goode (hmm: strange initials…).

Notable others:

* Kenneth Cope is back from Carry On At Your Convenience to play Sid’s son, Cyril. He has to dress as a nurse and pretend to be a woman in order to infiltrate the hospital. Roommate Susan soon rumbles him, but at least one doctor takes a shine to this new persona.

* Bill Maynard plays Freddy, one of Sid’s gang.

* Wendy Richard has a cameo as new mum Miss Willing.

* Terry Scott – in his final Carry On film – plays womaniser Dr Prod.

* Jacki Piper’s fourth and final Carry On character is a rather functional hospital sister.

* Jack Douglas debuts in the series, appearing in one scene as ‘Twitching father’. Unless you count people who are just in Carry On Columbus, he’s the only actor who’s in each and every film made after he joined the series. His character here is basically an excuse for Douglas to show off his established, tic-heavy, accident-prone Alf persona.

* Patsy Rowlands again plays Kenneth Williams’s PA (she’s called Evelyn Banks in this one).

* Valerie Leon cameos as Jane Darling, a famous actress who’s in labour – after a slapstick incident knocks Dr Prod out cold, Cyril has to deliver her triplets.

* Bill Kenwright, later a theatre producer and the chairman of Everton Football Club, has a tiny role as a newspaper reporter.

* Margaret Nolan is in a scene where her character, Mrs Tucker, and Dr Prod play out an age-old joke about a young woman, her elderly husband and their lodger.

Top totty: Look, if Margaret Nolan’s in one of these films, she’s going to win this category.

Kenneth Williams says: “First day of Carry On Matron. It was a murderous scene with medical dictionary plus thermometer in my mouth & taking the pulse and remembering every bit of business and I buggered it completely. By the time it got to take seven I heard Gerald [Thomas, director] say to the cameramen ‘Oh! let’s keep that one and print it… it won’t get any better…’ and of course he was right.” – Monday 11 October 1971 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p410)

“Watched the TV news and then Carry On Matron. I was amazed ’cos there was actually a story/idea behind this one, as opposed to the usual stream of would-be jokes.” – Tuesday 16 January 1988 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p781)

Review: Silly but harmless fun. There’s a succession of awful 1970s haircuts, however.

Seven grand orders of newts out of 10