Carry On Cabby
- Sid James as Charlie Hawkins
- Hattie Jacques as Peggy Hawkins
- Charles Hawtrey as Terry ‘Pintpot’ Tankard
- Kenneth Connor as Ted Watson
- Esma Cannon as Flo
- Liz Fraser as Sally
- Amanda Barrie as Anthea
- Bill Owen as Smiley
- Jim Dale as Expectant Father
The seventh Carry On movie, Cabby marks itself out as something a tad different from the norm, yet still boasting all the fun and good time a movie like this is expected too. Combining a keen eye for life at the time and the usual naughty comedy, Carry On Cabby is a resounding and pardon the pun, driving success.
Charlie Hawkins is a cheeky owner of a London taxi company named Speedee Cabs. Although a charmer to a fault, he’s also something of a workaholic to say the very least. His kind wife Peggy has grown tired of her husband’s devotion to his job, that has put a wedge between them that only she can see. She hopes that one day he will show her some appreciation, even though he doesn’t mean to be as inattentive as he seems. Also occupying the taxi company is loyal second in command Ted, whose often bickering with his tea lady girlfriend Sally and new driver nicknamed Pintpot who is prone to all sorts of mischief. Charlie’s dedication to his job finally comes to a head when he misses his wedding anniversary. This proves the last straw for Peggy, who decides that she must teach her husband a lesson. Using her initiative, she decides to secretly set up a rival taxi cab firm. It is named Glam Cabs, which she populates with gorgeous ladies to draw in customers. Staying in the background but pulling the strings, Peggy sets her girls out for a taste of success. The game is on as competition and all bets are off as Glam Cabs begins to succeed and Charlie’s company flounders, all with Peg motivating events to her advantage and giving Charlie a taste of his own medicine.
Gerald Thomas directs with his customary flair for comedy, while expanding on some drama in the piece. It’s clear that this a Carry On that wants to be more than funny and it actually accomplishes it winningly. After the colour of Carry On Cruising, the choice to go back to black and white pays dividends here. While primarily a comedy, Cabby has a certain serious undertone to it which surprises but finds something to say. With the film being made in the early 60’s and with more expression for women, Cabby reflects this change and how there was still a very big divide on what women were thought as and how they should be. Cabby gets in the laughs, but the social consciousness of it is what really makes it stand out in my eyes. Bucket loads of innuendo and sexiness abound in much the way you’d expect from a Carry On, but added in among Carry on Cabby’s virtues is a take on women striking out in a man’s world. Granted this includes using sex appeal and physical advantages, the feeling of fun mixed with the script that tackles what was going on at the time, any worries of overt sexism are cooled as its so well written. A serious topic is displayed with a tongue in cheek approach that still gets the message across; a success in my book. And talking of well written, Carry On Cabby is really the first of the film’s to really focus on character. You really get to know the people here, especially and the battle of the sexes their differences stoke. Combined with various incidents of great slapstick, this depth and character is what really counts in this hilarious outing for most of the team. Many moments stand out here, not least of all the ongoing battle between both companies and the various, sly methods employed to get business. Plus, we get the first appearance of Jim Dale, in a humorous interlude as an expectant father whose mind is rattled and whose constant journeys that he employs Charlie for land the latter in extremely hot water. The music is typically and amusingly jaunty, which is just what you want.
Sid James takes centre stage, perfecting his Cockney charmer and rogue routine that is great to watch. Acting alongside Hattie Jacques, James makes his character a blinded man who is good deep down. Hattie Jacques is beautifully moving and later on mischievous as the aggrieved wife, who takes control and fights fire with fire. Although she was remembered for playing the battle-axe or stern woman of authority, Jacques displays a real sensitivity and strength here that is a fine example of her talents. Charles Hawtrey returns to the fold with his fine brand of hapless pratfalls and slapstick, that is also complimented by the always excellent Kenneth Connor. Esma Cannon, in her last Carry On film, lights up the scream as the mischievous second in command for Glam Cabs. Liz Fraser once again provides the glamour and lusciousness of womanhood. Amanda Barrie has fun as the flirty Glam Cab girl who gets the most attention, while Bill Owen has his last Carry On outing in a funny interlude at the start of the film. The previously mentioned Jim Dale is a real hoot in his debut outing, which would lead to countless more.
A great entry into the ongoing franchise, Carry On Cabby mixes a certain social undercurrent to compliment its laughs and bring that something different to the table.