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a right carry on

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carry on dick 1974

rating

**********

cast
 

Dick Turpin Sidney James
Desmond Fancey Kenneth Williams
Martha Hoggett Hattie Jacques
Harriett Barbara Windsor
Madame Desiree Joan Sims
Sir Roger Daley Bernard Bresslaw
Constable Kenneth Connor
Tom Peter Butterworth
Sgt. Jock Strapp Jack Douglas
Bodkin Bill Maynard
Mrs Giles Patsy Rowlands
Lady Daley Margaret Nolan
Bullock David Lodge
Maggie Marianne Stone
Isaak the Tailor John Clive
William Patrick Durkin
Mr Giles George Moon
Coachman Sam Kelly
The Squire Michael Nightingale
Browning Brian Osborne
Rider Anthony Bailey
Highwayman Brian Coburn
Highwayman Max Faulker
Footpad Nosher Powell
Footpad Jeremy Connor
Lady Joy Harrington
Tough Man Larry Taylor
Tough Man Billy Cornelius
Bird of Paradise Penny Irving
Bird of Paradise Eva Reuber-Staier
Bird of Paradise Laraine Humphreys
Bird of Paradise Linda Hooks
Screenplay Talbot Rothwell
Producer Peter Rogers
Director Gerald Thomas

plot

In 1750 King George set up a Special police Force called The Bow Street Runners to combat a wave of violence and crime that swept England. Before long, highwaymen, footpads and other scoundrels of the day were having a swinging time - from the gallows.

But the most notorious of them all - a tricky fellow known as Dick Turpin and often referred to as Big Dick - was having a swinging time not only eluding the long arm of the law but also treating it as though it were just one enormous funny bone.

No-one - least of all the Chief of the Bow Street Runners, Sir Roger Daley, his captain, Desmond Fancey, Sgt. Jock Strapp or the local Constable - suspect that Highwayman Dick is really the Reverend Flasher, Rector of the village of Upper Denture. Or that the two members of his gang, Harry and Tom are, in fact, Harriet, the parlour maid at the Rectory, and the man who pumps the organ at the Church.

Not even Marta Hoggett, the doting Rectory housekeeper and church organist, realises that the valuables that raise so much money for local causes at the Church jumble sales, are booty from Dicks illegal night escapades.

Turpin and his gang are an embarrassment to the law in more ways than one. It seems that whenever Sir Roger and his wife travel, their coach is held up and they have to complete their journey stripped of everything - including clothes. A similar fate befalls Madame Desiree and her Birds of Paradis, a touring girlie show on its way to appear at the local inn.

But the foppish Captain Fancey and the stammering Sgt. Strapp do not give up the chase so easily. They finally deduct that all Turpins crimes are committed in the Upper and Lower Dencher area and decide to concentrate their enquiries locally.

First they ask the Rector to help them discover the identity of Dick Turpin! Then posing as two hardened criminals on the run from London, they visit the village inn and learn that a birthmark in a particularly private place can identify Turpin. They are, at last, hot on the tracks of the fiendish highwayman. Or are they? Before he knows whats happening to him, Capt. Fancey is being pursued from the inn - trouser less - by Madame Desiree, who has been tricked by Dick into believing that Fancey is Turpin and that she will get the 100 sovereigns reward if she reveals his identity.

Strapps crime-busting efforts are no more fruitful. He goes a bit too far in his efforts to seek out the man with the giveaway birthmark and is throw bodily out of the inn accused of being a Peeping Tom.

Undeterred - and despite one particularly disastrous bit of crime-fighting which succeeded only in getting them arrested at thrown in the village stocks suspected of being Turpin and one of his gang - Fancey and Strapp persist in their avid, if confused, efforts to capture the highwayman.

It looks as if the game is certainly up for the dare-devil gang when Harriet is arrested and put behind bars after Lady Daley recognises a bracelet she's wearing as one taken from her in the hold-up the night before.

They hadn't reckoned on the ingenuity of Dick. In no time at all - and dressed as a blousy, over made-up woman - he and Tom are in the local police station overpowering Fancey and freeing Harriet.

But now the true identity of Dick Turpin is out. It seems as though escape is finally impossible as Bow Street Runners surround the Church as Dick delivers what he thinks might well be his last lesson.

But there's a trick or two still up his sleeve. And itís not long before Dick, Harriet and Tom are speeding merrily towards the Scottish boarder and safety...

review

Sid and Hattie's last Carry On film is an acceptable one to bow out with. By no means a classic it's still entertaining, although by this point the cast were starting to look tired. Not a surprise really as many members were still involved in the stage production of Carry On London at the Victoria Palace. Still, this is a landmark film insofar as it was the last time all of the old gang (with the notable exception of Charles Hawtrey) were reunited.

It also marks the last time that Talbot Rothwell would contribute to the Carry Ons. Ill health forced him to retire and his daughter Jane had to assist to complete the screenplay for Dick. Its probably because of this that the script seems to lack a certain something and by this point the scripts were becoming increasingly coarse. Bill Maynard's line that he shall p*** in the beer is an example as is being able to read what Bernard Bresslaw says to Kenneth Williams over the peel of the church bells in the penultimate scene.

The film successfully captures the atmosphere of Restoration England and gives the Inn scenes a suitably seedy air. Its in the Inn (or rather the convenience to be more precise) that the most memorable scene occurs, a rather too thorough bit of police work by Jack Douglas trying to establish if any of the regulars have birthmarks on their 'diddlers'.

The film uses the template for most of the successful historical Carry Ons, namely pitching Sid James' loveable rouge against Kenneth Williams snooty official. This time however Sid is cast in an interesting dual role, that of the pious Rev Flasher and the Sid we know and love in Dick Turpin. Sid handles both characters with suitable aplomb.

Overall Carry On Dick is a competent historical but nowhere near as good as Up the Khyber or Carry On Henry. Jack Douglas and Kenneth Williams form a great double act, but there's a feeling that several of the gang are wasted here, particularly Hattie Jacques, Peter Butterworth and Patsy Rowlands who alas don't get much of a look in. Although it could be argued that by this point, we were seeing a bit too much Barbara Windsor...

other information

Sid was twice the age of the real Dick Turpin when this film was made!

South Africa banned Carry On Dick due to its portrayal of Sid as a crooked Vicar.

bloopers

Upper Denture church has a wartime cenotaph clearly visible outside. Also, you can clearly see white lines painted in the middle of the road as Kenneth Williams and Jack Douglas are riding on horseback

After Desmond Fancey is beckoned upstairs by Madame Desiree in the Old Cock Inn, he enters her bedroom. When he does the studio floor behind the door is visible rather than the downstairs inn.

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