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a right carry on

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don't lose your head 1966

rating

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cast
 

Sir Rodney Ffing Sidney James
Camembert Kenneth Williams
Duc de Pommfrit Charles Hawtrey
Lord Darcy de Pue Jim Dale
Desiree Dubarry Joan Sims
Citizen Bidet Peter Butterworth
Jacqueline Dany Robin
Robespierre Peter Gilmore
Landlady Marianne Stone
Henri Michael Ward
Malabonce Leon Greene
Guard Hugh Futcher
Captain Richard Shaw
Sergeant David Davenport
Lady Jennifer Clulow
Lady Valerie van Ost
Lady Jacqueline Pearce
Messenger Nikki van der Zyl
Rake Julian Orchard
Lady Binder Elspeth March
Dowager Joan Ingram
Small Aristocrat Ronnie Brody
Princess Stephanie Diana MacNamara
Soldier Billy Cornelius
Narrator Patrick Allen
Girl Monika Dietrich
Girl Anna Willoughby
Girl Penny Keen
Girl June Cooper
Girl Christine Pryor
Girl Karen Young
   
Screenplay Talbot Rothwell
Producer Peter Rogers
Director Gerald Thomas


promotional material


puzzle maze

swapped head competition
 


plot

Paris, 1879 and the Great Revolution has begun. Every day scores of the noblest heads in France are lost in the fearful embrace of Madame la Guillotine. Every few minutes a freshly sliced 'loaf'. Watching these proceedings with malevolent glee are Citizen Camembert, Chief of the Secret Police and his assistant Bidet.

Meanwhile across the Channel, the English carried on with their normal pursuit of pleasure. The same old round; the same old people; the same old house parties; the same old concerts; the same old balls.

Learning of the plight of their aristocratic counterparts. Two chivalrous Englishmen decide to lift a finger (or even two) and rush to the rescue. These are, Sir Rodney Ffing and Lord Darcy. Coincident with their arrival in France, the guillotine is cheated of a number of noble heads.

Using a variety of disguises, Sir Rodney and Darcy affect a number of spectacular rescues, always leaving in their wake a slip of paper bearing the contemptuous sign of two extended fingers - one digit having a blackened fingernail - the Black Fingernail has struck again!

Robespierre, head of the Revolution, conveys his displeasure to Camembert and warns him that on no account must a prominent leader of the Royalists, the Duke de Pommfrit be allowed to escape. In spite of increased precautions the Black Fingernail succeeds, and the head executioner, Malabonce, loses his head in the subsequent confusion. Camembert and Bidet are left to contemplate the accursed mocking sign attached to the guillotine itself.

The trail now leads to a coaching inn at Calais and it would appear that Sir Rodney and his gallant companions are trapped. It's thanks to the timely intervention of a beautiful French girl, Jacqueline, that Sir Rodney is able to escape, leaving his heart and a locket behind as a token of his undying love.

Sadly, Jacqueline is captured and taken to Paris for interrogation by Robespierre. As a result, Camembert and Bidet are despatched to England to continue the search, taking with them Desiree Dubarry.

Assuming the mantle of escaped French aristocrats, they stumble across Sir Rodney's country mansion where a ball is in progress. There they discover the presence of the Duke de Pommfrit. Desiree uses her ample charms in an endeavour to extract some information regarding the Black Fingernail. But it is Sir Rodney himself, caught in an unguarded moment, who gives the game away to Desiree.

Camembert forces a duel with Sir Rodney, who having learned of Jacqueline's imprisonment in the Bastille is anxious to return to Paris and rescue her. Needless to say, the duel is reduced to a farce and the opposing factions head back to France with Sir Rodney intent on rescuing his fair lady. Too late, he discovers that Jacqueline has been removed from the Bastille to Camembert's country residence - the Chateau Neuf.

Camembert has set his final trap. Knowing that Sir Rodney will attempt to rescue Jacqueline, he has the Chateau well guarded, with the lady as bait. Unfortunately, our villain does not reckon with the fatal fascination which our hero exercises over Desiree and it is with her help that he rescues Jacqueline - not before a stirring passage of arms inside the Chateau that reduces the whole place and its priceless objects d'art to a shambles.

Pausing only long enough for a double wedding in an English country church, Sir Rodney returns once more to Paris to witness the execution of two of its leading citizens. This time, however, no rescue is planned. Camembert and Bidet meet their fates at the hands of the Black Fingernail.

review

Utilising various stunning locations (including Cliveden House and Waddesdon Manor), Carry On...Don't Lose Your Head looks absolutely fantastic, and with a decent plot, the script oozes quality and double entendres. This is one of the superior Carry On offerings and is simply a pleasure to watch. The film is a splendid ribald parody of the French Revolution/Scarlet Pimpernel and has fantastic character names such as Citizens Camembert and Bidet, not to mention Sir Rodney Ffing.

This was the first Carry On film to be made by the Rank Organisation due to changes happening at Anglo Amalgamated. Whilst Rank were very keen to take on Peter Rogers' films, they weren't keen to have the 'Carry On' prefix, which sounds a bit ludicrous but that's what happened. So this film was released originally as merely 'Don't Lose Your Head'. The situation lasted for another film until it was decided to add Carry On to the beginning of this and Follow That Camel, for the purposes of a re-release. This explains their rather strange titles.

By this stage of the game, the films knew what to do and how to do it. There are a few naff moments such as Sid and Dany's asides looking straight at the camera and the reworking of 'She Loves You' but these are few and far between. Kenneth Williams is absolutely superb as The Big Cheese and has excellent support from Peter Butterworth as Bidet. These two completely steal the film and its strange that they didn't pair up to this extent again during the course of the films.

Another nice touch is when we are first introduced to Sid and Jim Dale at the beginning of the film. We initially fear that they'll be speaking in those foppish accents all the way through the film. No fear. As soon as Sid utters "Darcy, to Paris", we know we're in for some fun. Special mention must be given to Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey as they add more colour to the film, especially Joan as gloriously awful Desiree.

To sum up, Don't Lose Your Head is another great film that had its work cut out to follow Carry On Screaming! (not to mention backroom upheaval
by changing distributors) but manages excellently and is a great example of a Carry On historical.

other information

Dany Robin owned five crocodiles as well as numerous other animals at her farmhouse on the outskirts of Paris. She was also married to Sid's agent.

Jim Dale and Sid James thought up the 'Drop in in the basket' line that Charles Hawtrey says when he's at the guillotine.

bloopers

When Charles Hawtrey is about to be beheaded, someone comes up to him saying they have a message for him. He replies with, "Toss it in the basket and I'll read it later." So she throws it in the basket, but in the next shot when you see an overhead view of Hawtrey, the basket is empty.

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