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Film Title

Carry On Regardless

Director

Gerald Thomas

Starring

  • Sid James as Bert Handy
  • Kenneth Connor as Sam Twist
  • Charles Hawtrey as Gabriel Dimple
  • Joan Sims as Lily Duveen
  • Kenneth Williams as Francis Courtenay
  • Bill Owen as Mike Weston
  • Liz Fraser as Delia King
  • Terence Longdon as Montgomery Infield-Hopping
  • Esma Cannon as Miss Cooling
  • Stanley Unwin as Landlord
  • Joan Hickson as Matron
  • Hattie Jacques as Nurse

The fifth entry in the franchise, Carry On Regardless for me hits a stumbling block. While it’s still funny, the focus on too many individual incidents gets laborious and it feels like there is too much going on and not all of it good. Suffice to say, Carry On Regardless is my least favourite entry so far in the long running series.

A group of disgruntled individuals meet in the Labour Exchange, moaning about the severe lack of jobs. They are perpetually unlucky Sam Twist, clumsy and harmless Gabriel Dimple, amiable Lily Duveen, snotty language expert Francis Courtenay, gruff chap Mike Weston, gorgeous blonde Delia King and well-groomed Montgomery Infield-Hopping. On the very same day, a discovery in the paper for an agency known as ‘Helping Hands’ is found. Given the lack of jobs, the motley crew races to the office to get work there. The agency is run by the crafty Bert Handy, who along with his secretary Miss Cooling, hopes the business of ‘Helping Hands’ can be successful. Hiring the group, he awaits greatness. At first, business is pretty slow for all involved. Yet eventually, given that the agency has advertised that they will take whatever job there is, offers flood in for the staff. Which of course means that unusual and kooky antics are bound to follow, especially with this group of misfits taking part. And when the new order system that assigns jobs for everyone is mixed up, much mayhem ensues.

While Gerald Thomas knows what he’s doing to get laughs, his direction is as uneven as the stories at play. Nothing bad by any stretch, just a feeling of being too thrown together and forced. While other Carry On Movies have been episodic, they at least had more of a clear thread running through them. Regardless just feels like an overload of ideas that could have been rendered with more efficiency. Part of the fun in a Carry On is the camaraderie and group effort of the thing; Regardless keeps them apart for much too long. Now there’s still humour to be gleaned, with more innuendo peppered in there in budding fashion. Owing to the scattershot narrative, some vignettes stand out more than others. Joan Sims getting sozzled at a high society is hilarious, as is Kenneth Williams walking and entertaining a Chimpanzee for the day. Kenneth Connor’s story of a misunderstood message that leads to what he thinks is a spy operation is probably the funniest of the lot, especially as it really plays up the fact that he’s such a hapless chap. While these areas of Carry On Regardless are fun and get laughs, the rest of it somehow grinds to a halt. I feel that the talents of some members of the cast where not given great stuff to work with, which is a shame considering their talents. While the score is eventful, it isn’t the finest example of music in Carry On.

Sid James, with his trademark grin and dirty laugh, is clearly having fun as the boss of the agency, who everything seems to link back to. There’s something about James that really keeps you watching, even when the stories get to be a bit of a bore. Kenneth Connor, so far a firm favourite in the Carry On team, once more plays the underdog to the hilt. Connor just knows how to gain laughs from you with his brand of hapless enthusiasm and performance. I’ve grown to love Charles Hawtrey and his comedic talents, and though he gets one particularly funny scene, I was a bit disheartened that he wasn’t given a whole lot to do. The delightful Joan Sims shines in her main scenes with her comic timing and personality, making up for some of the less assured vignettes. And of course a Carry On wouldn’t be one without the inimitable Kenneth Williams. That vocal style, mannerisms and facial expressions are just too hilarious, Williams is a masterful comedian. Bill Owen is sadly given scant to do in this venture, while the gorgeous Liz Fraser provides ample sex appeal in her debut Carry On. Terence Longdon makes his last appearance, which sadly is one that is few and far between as he feels a little shoe-horned into the mix. Providing splendid support is the sweet and pixie-like Esma Cannon, whose pretty fun and endearing as a daffy secretary. Stanley Unwin appears, along with his trademark gobbledygook style of speaking to play a Landlord, that no one can understand. In a funny reversal of fortune from Carry On Nurse, Joan Hickson plays a hospital matron while Hattie Jacques is the put-upon nurse.

Not a bad movie, it has its moments that raise a laugh, but Carry On Regardless feels hit and miss in regards to the rest of the films.

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