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Film Title

Carry On Nurse

Director

Gerald Thomas

Starring

  • Kenneth Connor as Bernie Bishop
  • Kenneth Williams as Oliver Reckitt
  • Hattie Jacques as Matron
  • Charles Hawtrey as Humphrey Hinton
  • Terence Longdon as Ted York
  • Shirley Eaton as Nurse Denton
  • Bill Owen as Percy Hickson
  • Joan Sims as Nurse Dawson
  • Leslie Phillips as Jack Bell
  • Joan Hickson as Sister
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White as The Colonel
  • Rosalind Knight as Student Nurse Nightingale

After the success of Carry On Sergeant, producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas decided to do a second film( which in turn would lead to countless more movies in the series). They knew they were on to something and delivered comedy gems. Carry On Nurse is a riotously funny spoof of the health service, with more innuendo that would later become prominent and game cast having a blast.

The setting is Haven Hospital, specifically a men’s word that is anything but a haven for those working or recuperating. The ward is watched over by the overbearing and fearsome Matron, who has the workers scared witless of her and always attempting to not mess up. The trouble is the ward is seemingly a hotbed for every sort of accident or calamity there is, both of the amorous and amusing variety. The motley crew of workers and patients have enough antics to last a lifetime. In the ward there is Bernie Bishop, a boxer who is in after breaking his hand in a bout. The intellectual and always reading Oliver Reckitt complains constantly about the conditions of the place, using his silver tongue to annoy Matron. Bespectacled Humphrey Hinton spends his time laughing hysterically or re-enacting musical orchestra from his perms angle fixed radio. Chain-smoking cynic Percy Hickson is laid up with a broken leg. Recently arrived newspaper man Ted York, who is being treated for appendicitis and who becomes attracted to the gorgeous Nurse Denton. In a private room and constantly a nuisance is the Colonel, an elderly chap who bets on just about anything and causes grief to the nurses whenever he can. Scatter brained Nurse Dawson is repeatedly getting herself into bother, which always seems to occur when Matron is on one of her dreaded rounds. Add to this the cad that is Jack Bell, who wants his operation sorted so he can pursue a romantic rendezvous, and you’re in for a whole heap of trouble.

Gerald Thomas contributes his usual unobtrusive direction that is nothing overtly or stylistically challenging, but has the right tone and tongue in cheek wink to the audience that is delightful. Innuendo and double entendres enter the fray here and became a staple( one of the best and most memorable being Leslie Phillips uttering the words Ding Dong); here it’s a bit more innocent yet still very suggestive and great entertainment. There’s some amazing sight gags, slapstick elements and just plain old fun to be had as the patients run amok. Carry On Nurse is a finely done medical caper of people wreaking havoc in a place that is usually depicted as somewhat tranquil, with this send up showing hospital can indeed be unlikely fun. You can really see the elements that would later define the Carry On series coming together in Nurse, with amorous and saucy hints thrown into the mix. If you want a lark, just watching some of the sketches here, that will tickle the funny bone. Look no further than the laughing gas scene of the drunk patients, haphazardly and giggling as they attempt to remove bunion.  that is hysterically executed and a hoot thanks to the outrageous concept and levity of it all. The film has an episodic feel but that’s exactly what its supposed to be. You don’t go into a Carry On for a cohesive plot or to be tested, you go in for the jolly and cheeky ride it provides you with. The jaunty score matches the naughty and laugh-inducing antics of the characters in a madcap way.

Many of the cast from Sergeant make a return, along with some new additions. Kenneth Connor has a scrappy and gleeful kind of attitude that able suits his boxer character. Kenneth Williams is a hoot, particularly in the facial expression and witty line reading department. You simply won’t be able to contain laughing whenever he questions Matron or reacts to yet another jocular incident. Hattie Jacques is suitably formidable and dryly humorous as the Matron, who takes a dim view of how the hospital is being run and isn’t afraid to say it. The role of Matron or authority figure would become a familiar one for Jacques and one she plays wonderfully. Charles Hawtrey is a riot once more, that s time as a patient whose life revolved around listening to the radio and enacting what he hears. Plus, add his outrageous laugh into the mix and he’s once again a scene stealer. The main romantic sub-plot of Nurse comes from Terence Longdon and Shirley Eaton as patient and nurse. It’s not the finest part of the movie, but is engaging enough in the long run of things thanks to the attractive couple. Curmudgeonly growling can be found with Bill Owen, whose eye-rolling expressions are a joy to view. We get the first appearance of soon to be regular Joan Sims, whose funny, cheeky and clumsy antics as an accident prone nurse are comically endearing and hilariously acted. Also having a ball is Leslie Phillips; his playboy attitude and comic timing a great addition to the already fit to burst events on screen. Plus, we have him to thank for giving us the memorable Ding Dong catchphrase that would become synonymous with these films. Joan Hickson is straight-laced and by the book as the Sister of the ward, while Wilfrid Hyde-White has an eye-catching role as the troublesome Colonel, keeping the nurses on their toes each and every minute. In a small but plum role, Rosalind Knight is hilarious as an over-eager young nurse who comes onto the night shift and takes the job ridiculously serious.

With Carry On Nurse introducing more naughty humour and slapstick antics, the formula for the franchise comes into focus. And it’s a rollicking good time to be had by all.

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