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a right carry on

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carry on constable 1960

rating

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cast
 

Sgt Frank Wilkins Sidney James
Inspector Mills Eric Barker
PC  Constable Kenneth Connor
PC Timothy Gorse Charles Hawtrey
PC Stanley Benson Kenneth Williams
PC Tom Potter Leslie Phillips
WPC Passworthy Joan Sims
Sgt Laura Moon Hattie Jacques
PC Thurston Cyril Chamberlain
Sally Barry Shirley Eaton
Mrs May Joan Hickson
Distraught Woman Irene Handl
Herbert Hall Terence Longdon
Crook Freddie Mills
WPC Harrison Jill Adams
Store Manager Brian Oulton
DS Liddell Victor Maddern
Lady Mayor Joan Young
Deaf Old Lady Esma Cannon
Agitated Woman Hilda Fenemore
Vague Woman Noel Dyson
Assistant Manager Robin Ray
Matt Michael Balfour
Honoria Diane Aubrey
Eric Ian Curry
Shop Assistant Mary Law
Miss Horton Lucy Griffiths
Thief Peter Bennett
Cliff Jack Taylor
Shorty Eric Boon
Girl with Dog Janetta Lake
Young Woman Dorina Stevens
Citizen Tom Gill
Citizen Frank Forsyth
Citizen John Antrobus
Citizen Eric Corrie
   
Screenplay Norman Hudis
Producer Peter Rogers
Director Gerald Thomas

plot

As a result of a flu epidemic, the Police are seriously understaffed and overworked. Officer upon officer is going down with the nasty bug. Things look up however with the news that three new recruits are shortly to be arriving at the Police Station. According to Sgt Wilkins, they'll be keen, alert, raring to go constables, how wrong he is!

On their way to the station however, the new recruits inadvertently assist some jewel thieves into their getaway car. Not exactly what you'd call an auspicious start. The new Constables are self proclaimed intellectual PC Timothy Benson, Ladies Man PC Tom Potter and PC Charles Constable who is extremely superstitious. All of them have their flaws, and these are highlighted later by the arrival of WPC Gloria Passworthy who is an extremely efficient unit of personnel. They are all aided in their duties by Special Constable Gorse, who is camper than a row of tents.

As soon as Constable claps eyes on Passworthy, its love at first sight, unfortunately the course of true love never runs smoothly. At the initial inspection parade Inspector Mills tells Constable he has a very arresting face, whilst Mills is subjected to a sťance.

Its a miracle that these officers are actually let out on the street, but when they are more calamities ensue. Benson observes a man behaving suspiciously and proceeds to talk him of the robbery he's about to commit. He's slightly crestfallen to discover that the man is actually DS Liddell of CID. His luck doesn't get any better later as he assists an old woman across the street, only to discover she had already crossed from the other side.

Meanwhile Constable believes he's just heard a murder being committed, but it turns out to be a noisy radio. Potter investigates a report of an intruder, but finds a young woman in the bath. Gorse is having rotten luck as well. He attempts to rescue a cat in a church, by pulling the bell-rope in an attempt to frighten it down. However, he ends up clinging to the rope for dear life when his plan backfires.

When Inspector Mills reads their reports, he's far from happy, and is even less happy when Potter takes the police dog for a walk, loses control of the mutt and it sends him flying into his newly constructed fishpond. Finally Mills decides they'll have to go when Benson and Gorse drag up whilst looking for shoplifters in a ladies department store and end up arresting the Lady Mayoress.

Thankfully, things go their way due to a wages robbery. The thieves have got away with £10,000. Benson and Potter locate the getaway car and call the others. All four of them proceed down the street referred to as the 'street of a thousand mouse-holes' and discover a house which looks empty but has fresh tire-tracks leading up to the drive.

The thieves are discovered, and a fight between the robbers and the policemen occurs, with the police managing to arrest them and recover the money. Of course this has done no harm to their status at the station.

Speaking of the station, its soon all change. Inspector Mills has been promoted and leaves, so Sgt Wilkins takes his place. Finally Charlie Constable gets his girl (with a little help from Sgt Moon) and stops being superstitious.

review

Carry On Constable is probably the best of the Norman Hudis scripted films. Although on first impression it appears to be a rewrite of Carry On Sergeant as the action is centred on the antics of a bunch of misfits trying to please their new boss, it soon becomes apparent that Constable is a more pleasing film than the initial outing. By keeping the number of misfits down (four here as opposed to Sergeants seven), we get to know each character greater, therefore allowing each one to shine on screen equally. Unlike Sergeant and especially Nurse, there's no superfluous characters that clog up screen time.

Of course this film is notable in the Carry On cannon as being the first to star Sidney James. Rather than the cackling letch that we would come to expect from his characters, here he puts in a rather low key performance as the put-upon Sergeant who gets it in the neck from all angles. Sid's subtle and likeable portrayal of an understanding Sergeant nicely balances Eric Barker's stubborn and unreasonable views on discipline. Meanwhile Kenneth Williams plays his intellectual snob to great effect whilst Charles Hawtery is so camp in this one he makes Julian Clary look butch. It has to be said that they make a fantastic double act, especially when they drag it up whilst on the lookout for shoplifters.

Elsewhere Kenneth Connor plays exactly the same kind of character he did in Sergeant, his best moment is when he's pouring his heart out to Passworthy as she disappears up a flight of steps. Leslie Phillips is, well, Leslie Phillips, alas in his last Carry On role for 32 years. Actually whilst reviewing this, its easy to forget that the two female mainstays in the film, Hattie Jacques and Joan Sims are even in this one as they barely have a funny line between them, in fact the only humorous female in it is Joan Hickson as the permanently sloshed Mrs May who turns in another fantastic performance.

Looking at it from a modern perspective, the film holds up better than Sergeant. It's still very quaint (as all Hudis' scripts tend to be), but the characters are becoming firmly established and settling into their roles nicely. Overall a highly enjoyable outing for the gang and an improvement on the previous outing, although better was still to come...

other information

Just after Carry On Nurse completed filming, scriptwriter Norman Hudis spent a week at Slough Police Station researching procedures for a proposed Carry On film involving the police. However, because Hudis felt the daily grind of everyday policing offered little material for comedy, producer Peter Rogers suggested leaving the theme for a while. It was not until completion of the script of Carry On Teacher that Hudis returned to the idea. In the event, the script got finished in merely a few weeks.

The role of Sgt. Wilkins was written with Ted Ray in mind. However due to circumstances beyond the producers power (See entry for Carry On Teacher) Sid James was drafted in. Scottish actor Chic Murray was also briefly considered for the role.

As well as the first appearance of Sid in the series, this film is also notable for the first appearance of nudity in the series. (The shower scene).

A rare improvised line makes the final cut in the film. This appears when Charles Hawtrey gets out of bed and steps in his chamber pot, it starts rolling around on the floor and he tells it to be quiet.

The film marks Leslie Phillips last appearance in a Carry On for 32 years. he wouldn't resurface until 1992's Carry On Columbus.

Whilst this film was the fourth Carry On to be released in the UK, in the US it was released third. In fact, when Governor Films acquired the distribution for the US, they released Carry On Nurse first, Carry On Sergeant second and Carry On Teacher fourth. After teachers release in 1961, all the subsequent films were released in their usual order.

Noel Dyson was initially cast in the role of Mrs May.

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