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a right carry on

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carry on cleo 1964

rating

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cast
 

Mark Antony Sidney James
Julius Caesar Kenneth Williams
Seneca Charles Hawtrey
Henghis Podd Kenneth Connor
Horsa Jim Dale
Capernica Joan Sims
Cleopatra Amanda Barrie
Senna Podd Sheila Hancock
Soothsayer Jon Pertwee
Sergeant Major Victor Maddern
Gloria Julie Stephens
Galley Master Peter Gilmore
Companion Peter Jesson
Bridesmaid Judi Johnson
Antony's Maiden Sally Douglas
Willa Claudia Peggy Ann Clifford
Seneca's Servant Thelma Taylor
Agrippa Francis De Wolff
Spencius Warren Mitchell
Hessian Driver Brian Rawlinson
Messenger Ian Wilson
Guard Mark Hardy
Caveman Michael Nightingale
Archimedes Michael Ward
Brutus Brian Oulton
Virginia Tanya Benning
Sosages Tom Clegg
Bilius David Davenport
Markus Gertan Klauber
Bidder Wanda Ventham
Narrator EVH Emmet
Hand Maiden Christine Rodgers
Hand Maiden Gloria Best
Hand Maiden Virginia Tyler
Vestal Virgin Gloria Johnson
Vestal Virgin Joanna Ford
Vestal Virgin Donna White
Vestal Virgin Jane Lumb
Vestal Virgin Vicki Smith
   
Screenplay Talbot Rothwell
Producer Peter Rogers
Director Gerald Thomas

plot

Ancient Briton, Hengist Pod makes his living as a wheel maker. Much to the chagrin of his wife Senna, the wheels he produces are unconventionally square, trade therefore is far from brisk. One day a new neighbour by the name of Horsa moves in next door to the Pods. He is everything that Hengist isn't: brave, intelligent, tall and good looking. Despite this the two become firm friends after initially inventing a window frame from one of Hengists square wheels.

One day, their settlement comes under attack from the invading Roman Legion. The Britons put up a brave fight, but they're totally outnumbered by the attacking force. Meanwhile Hengist has been dispatched to get help from Boudicca's Army stationed in Carlisle. Travelling by bicycle (naturally a square-wheeled one) he finds the going tough. Unfortunately during his journey the bicycle breaks and he is forced to hitchhike, but is unlucky enough to be captured by a Roman prison cart. Together with Horsa and others from their settlement, he is sent to Rome.

Meanwhile Mark Antony, the leader of the invading Roman Army, pays a visit to his friend and Emperor of Rome Julius Caesar to inform him of him of his Army's progress. Unfortunately he finds Caesar at a lob ebb. He is utterly sick of the inclement British weather and unhappy about the lack of success of his Army. News reaches him however about possible treachery in the Roman Senate, without further ado he is heading back to Rome.

Caesar, expecting a glorious welcoming parade is extremely dismayed when his return is greeted with disdain. The cold shoulder continues with his wife Calpurnia, who is feeling neglected due to her husband invading overseas continents. She seems to be more displeased when Caesar offers her Gloria, a British slave, bringing into question just what Julius has been up to whilst he has been out conquering. It's at this point that Calpurnias Father Senneca arrives to continue the less than enamoured homecoming and warns Caesar to beware the Ides of March as there are plots to assassinate him.

Hengist and Horsa find themselves at a slave market which is run by brothers Marcus and Spencius. Horsa is bought by a large woman called Willa Claudia and unfortunately has her initials (W.C.) branded on him. Hengist is even more unfortunate, nobody wants him, so he appears to be destined to become a lions dinner. Thankfully the two manage to escape their captors and hide out in the Temple of Vesta. Shortly afterwards Caesar arrives and smells something fishy about one of the vestal virgins. Suddenly his bodyguard Bilius turns and tries to kill him. Coming to Caesars aid, Horsa dispatches Bilius and the guards single-handedly and manages to hide from Mark Antony and his men as they arrive. Hengist, who has been knocked out in the fracas is given the credit for saving Caesars life and is made a Centurion. Mark Antony however, remains unconvinced of his fighting abilities.

Soon Mark Antony is heading towards Egypt under orders from Caesar to depose Cleopatra and return Ptolemy to the throne. Unfortunately things don't quite go to plan and he finds himself captivated by Cleopatra's charm, so kills Ptolemy and leaves her on the throne. However, his ambition is now taking over and he plots with Cleopatra and forms a plan to overthrow Caesar and become the new Emperor of Rome.

Upon his return to Rome, Mark Antony advises Caesar that Cleopatra wants to get to know Caesar better. So Caesar accompanied by Mark Antony, Hengist, Gloria and Seneca, head to Egypt. Meanwhile Hengist is unaware that Horsa has been recaptured and is now one of the galley slaves on the ship that is currently rowing them to Egypt. Using his cunning, Horsa manages to escape his shackles and after freeing the other prisoners manages to overthrow the guards on the ship. Meanwhile Mark Antony has arranged for the crew to kill Caesar and naturally Hengist is dispatched to deal with the trouble. Terrified, he goes onto the deck to face what he believes is certain death. Thankfully Horsa and the rest of the slaves have killed the rebels and have now left the ship. Once again lucky Hengist has been given all the credit, but due to an absence of crew, has to row along with the others the rest of the journey.

After finally arriving at Cleopatra's palace, Caesar has an unsettling encounter with a soothsayer who informs him that Cleopatra is going to make an attempt on his life when he goes to her chamber that evening. Self-preservation takes hold and Caesar changes clothes with Hengist, hoping that he'll deal with any trouble. Of course Hengist is a bag of nerves so has to take a potion that will overcome his fears of impersonating Caesar and give him strength and courage. When he meets Cleopatra later that evening he starts by accidentally knocking Mark Antony out by jumping on the bed (who has been hiding under it). After that he fights Cleopatra's bodyguard before rejoining Horsa, who realises that Gloria is his lost love from Britain, and escape.

Back in Blighty, Horsa and Gloria are married whilst Hengist and his wife go on to have several children. Caesar is not so lucky and is eventually assonated by the Roman Senate. Meanwhile Mark Antony ends up settling for domestic bliss with Cleopatra in Egypt. Lucky swine!

other information

Blimus! The first attempt at a Classical mickey-take is a real belter. Carry On Cleo tells the tale of Julius Caesar (Kenneth Williams) and his attempt to dethrone Cleopatra of Egypt (Amanda Barrie) with the help of his best friend Mark Anthony (Sid James). Talbot Rothwell is on top form taking huge poetic licence with the historical accuracy (or inaccuracy) as Stone Age man meets the Romans. There is even a reference to a plant-eating brontosaurus eating a Stone-Age mother-in-law (no humans ever lived at the time of dinosaurs). Furthermore, this is the first time we see the real fun with character names. Bilius, Senna Pod, Markus Et Spencius and Sosages can only be the products of an ingenious mind. This ingenuity is born out in a cleverly worked story of lust and deceit recounting the actual downfall of Caesar. There are welcome returns from Sid James and Joan Sims and together with the other on-form cast members they act out one of the best and oft-remembered films of the series. On the heels of Spying, this picture has a hard act to follow, but it certainly doesn't fail to impress.

Britain is under siege from the Romans. In the small settlement of Cockium in Cornoviae (Mark Anthony: "What a mouthful!"), Hengist Pod (Kenneth Connor playing a direct descendant of Horace Strong from Sergeant) befriends his new neighbour Horsa (Jim Dale). As they discuss square wheels and window frames a young man pulls his female friend by the hair, leading to one of the coarsest lines of the film and indicating the bawdier direction in which the Rothwell films were heading.

Horsa: "There's no prettier sight than a young couple courting."
Pod: "Yeah…..makes you want to get your club out and have a bash yourself."

That line must have been a real handful for the censors!

Pod escapes the invading Roman Army only to flag down a prisoner wagon when his bicycle breaks. His naïve gratitude as the Roman offers him a lift is reflected in Hoarsa's despair: "Oh you silly…..Pod!"

On the Roman side we have Kenneth Williams as their imperial leader, whose performance style is outlined in his very first line: "Ohhhh…I do feel queer," as he then proceeds to mince his way through the entire film. Blaming his cold, and his wilting laurels on the British weather, he awaits Mark Anthony. On his arrival, Bilius greets the miserable soldier:

Bilius: "Hail Mark Anthony!"
Mark Anthony (downcast): "Hail, sleet, snow, thunder, lightning, the lot!"

Sid's look of infuriation and the gesturing hand together with deadpan delivery are the key to the comic timing of this line and is executed so perfectly that it remains one of my favourite lines of the film.

The relationship between Anthony and Caesar is very much like a husband and wife team referring to each other as "Tony and Julie". Caesar idolises Anthony and begs him to protect his position as Roman leader:

Caesar (imploringly)"You won't let them take it away from me, will you?"

Their relationship works far better than Caesar's real marriage to Calpernia; Joan Sims, making a welcome return as the nagging, jealous wife - a characterisation she is often noted for. Her father is played effortlessly by Charles Hawtrey, wearing his trademark spectacles and issuing plenty of sideways glances to keep the Hawtrey fans happy. He glides through the film, reeling line after line of great scriptwriting, maintaining a giggling grin throughout and appearing to thoroughly enjoy himself. His character, Seneca predicts the downfall of Caesar with his visionary wisdom:

Calpernia: "Seneca is well known throughout Rome as a great Sage."
Seneca: "Yes…..and I know my onions!"

With Williams also in his element it seems like a constant battle between the two to out-mince each other. However, the script-adhering 'professionalism' of Hawtrey is not shared by Williams in one particular scene. His speech to the Senate, in an ad-libbed Winston Churchill style, has Brian Oulto
n as Brutus, looking in horror as he deviates from the originally conceived style and then anxiously trying to suppress the laughter welling up inside. He manages to keep it at bay……but only just! This unscripted element is possibly the funniest moment in a very funny film. The reason for Caesar's speech is to outline the threat posed by Ptolomy and Cleopatra, which has caused rumblings in the Senate, especially concerning Caesar's ability to lead their country during this crisis.

Meanwhile, Horsa and Pod are put through the sales ring. Having been sent to large Willa Claudia (WC) and the Lions respectively, our British heroes make their escape in fear. They hide in the Palace of Vesta, masquerading as Eunuchs (Pod: "What have we got to lose?") only for Caesar to appear, wishing to consult the Vestal Virgins, having since heard from Seneca that his life was under threat. It is here that Bilius pulls out "his thing" and chases the pleading Caesar:

Caesar: "Infamy…Infamy…..they've all got it in for me!"

Horsa defeats the attacking Army single-handedly, only to escape and leave poor old Pod to claim the credit. He is instantly hailed as Caesar's saviour and is made a Centurion.

Mark Anthony is sent to Egypt to dispose of Cleopatra and minimise the threat to Rome, but having seen her in her bath of milk he decides that killing Ptolomy and plotting Caesar's downfall instead would be a better idea. Sid is in true lecherous form as he gently growls in satisfaction at the sight before him. As the two "form an alliance" they plot a way to get rid of Julius Caesar, who by now has been encouraged to Egypt by Mark Anthony. This leads up to another of my favourite lines:

Cleopatra (showing her Asp): "One bite of this should be enough."
Mark Anthony (biting snake's head off): "You're right…one bite's enough for anyone…that's shocking!"

Cleopatra is portrayed as a bimbo figure whose ability to lead the country comes only second to her ability to charm the men. She arranges for Caesar to meet her in her bedchamber so he can be assassinated there, but the cowardliness of Caesar forces Pod to take his position. In true Carry On style, the plan goes disastrously wrong as Horsa, once again comes to the rescue and saves them. He has now managed to find his long lost love, Gloria (Julie Stephens), and along with Caesar, Pod and Seneca they make their escape. Hengist and Horsa have their happy homecoming, the Senate finally get to kill Caesar, stabbed by his compatriots as in the original story, and as for Mark Anthony and Cleopatra?

"Life was just one long Saturday night."



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