Carry on carrying on

A few years ago, the process of reclaiming the Carry On oeuvre was launched in fine fashion. No less an institution than The Barbican Cinema in London decided to have a retrospective of the full 30 films.

This was a big deal. Removed from their usual late-night telly context and put back in an arthouse theatre for paying audiences, it suddenly became alright for the culturally-aware to admit that, well, they’d actually rather liked them all along.

Now yet another step in the well-established rehabilitation – they’re being re-invented as social commentary, if not necessarily a particularly profound variety. This from BBC Magazine:

More than just a Carry On?

Amid the slapstick, the innuendo and the corny puns, the Carry Ons reflected all of this. Derided by highbrow critics, it is only recently that social commentators have come to appreciate them for the unvarnished portrait they paint of a nation in flux.

Take Carry on Cabby (1963) for tentative stirrings of feminism as Hattie Jacques sets up an all-female taxi firm to rival that of husband Sid.

In the words of Daily Telegraph columnist Simon Heffer, Cabbie is “certainly what Germaine Greer would call a proto-feminist film”.

By the time of Carry on Girls, 10 years later, bra-burning feminists disrupt a beauty contest in the seaside town of Fircombe.

While the humour may have been upfront, any social commentary was more subtly conveyed, says Andy Medhurst, lecturer in film, media and cultural studies at Sussex University.

“They weren’t films that set out to have an explicit social message but in a paradoxical kind of way that gives them more meaning,” says Mr Medhurst. “They capture the way people living humdrum lives with limited horizons found a release in comedy. They seem to encapsulate an everyday life in Britain of that time.” Read full article here…

One thought on “Carry on carrying on

  1. Maybe that’s why the revival Carry on Columbus was such a dog… the cast was in the best tradition of the movies, the jokes creaked appropriately, but something was missing. Perhaps it was a lack of that tradition?

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