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a right carry on

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carry on spying 1964

rating

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cast
 

Desmond Simpkins Kenneth Williams
Harold Crump Bernard Cribbins
Charlie Bind Charles Hawtrey
Daphne Honeybutt Barbara Windsor
Director Eric Barker
Carstairs Jim Dale
Cobley Richard Wattis
Lila Dilys Laye
The Fat Man Eric Pohlmann
Milchmann Victor Maddern
Dr Crow Judith Furse
Head Waiter John Bluthal
Club Madame Renee Houston
Door Man Tom Clegg
Code Clerk Gertan Klauber
Local Policeman Norman Mitchell
Professor Stark Frank Forsyth
Algerian Gent Derek Sydney
Cigarette Seller Jill Mai Meredith
Cloakroom Girl Angela Ellison
Bed of Nails Fakir Hugh Futcher
Elderly Woman Norah Gordon
Thug Jack Taylor
Thug Bill Cummings
Guard Patrick Durkin
Guard Anthony Baird
Funhouse Girl Virginia Tyler
Funhouse Girl Judie Johnson
Funhouse Girl Gloria Best
Amazon Guard Audrey Wilson
Amazon Guard Vicky Smith
Amazon Guard Jane Lumb
Amazon Guard Marian Collins
Amazon Guard Sally Douglas
Amazon Guard Christine Rodgers
Amazon Guard May Koumani
   
Screenplay Talbot Rothwell
Producer Peter Rogers
Director Gerald Thomas

plot

It's panic stations at B.O.S.H (British Operational Security Headquarters) when they get word that the top secret formula "X" has been cunningly stolen by Milchmann, an enemy agent from S.T.E.N.C.H (Society for total extermination of Non Conforming Humans). Doctor Crow, head of S.T.E.N.C.H, gloatingly confirms their victory to the B.O.S.H chief who promptly summons Desmond Simpkins and three of his less spectacular trainee spies: Harold Crump, Daphne Honeybutt and Charlie Bind.

Carstairs, our man in Vienna, alerts H.Q that Milchmann has arrived in the city and after a briefing that reveals Daphne to be the proud processor of a photographic memory, the four spies take various routed to Vienna. A rendezvous at the Cafe Mozart brings the foursome into contact with Milchmann and two other arch villains, the Fat Man and the Head Waiter. It is here that Lina, a supposed cafe entertainer, is seen for the first time, and poor Carstairs learns to his cost that he has been lumbered with a bunch of idiots. More by accident than design, they stumble across a clue which leads them to a warehouse in the city, and on entering, they find Milchmann dying - eliminated by the Fat Man and the Waiter. With his dying gasp, he directs them to the Fat Man's whereabouts in Algiers, "The Street of a Thousand..." but he expires at this crucial point.

Assuming a variety of disguises, the intrepid band arrive in Algiers and begin to search the native quarter. Daphne's memory serves her well and she recognises The Fat Man. They blunder on in pursuit and track him to Hakim's Funhouse. Daphne, disguised as a local beauty, enters the side door followed by Harold who assumes an identical disguise. Once inside, they are able to find and entertain The Fat Man in an attempt to retrieve Formula "X". Alas the gallant Carstairs again arrives on the scene and suffers the indignity of further painful embarrassment. Aided by the advent of Simpkins and Charlie, they flee with the formula and all head home via the Orient Express. Their mutual congratulation are a little premature however as they are being followed.

The chase is now being headed by the mysterious Lila from the Cafe Mozart. The Fat Man has been relieved of his command by Dr. Crow for his bungling and preference for flesh-pots. Lila tries to seduce Simpkins in his sleeper, but she is forestalled by a minor mishap and Simpkins, for once galvanised into action, gets Daphne to 'photograph' the formula in her memory before destroying it. The quartet are captured by Lila and her henchmen then transported to the underground H.Q of S.T.E.N.C.H where they come face to face with Dr. Crow and a bevy of beautiful woman who act as guards.

The men are taken to the cells while Daphne undergoes interrogation by the fanatical Doctor. Withstanding many devilish devices she accidentally receives a blow on the head which trips off her 'photographic mechanism' and the Doctor is able to record the formula. Escaping from their cell, the male trio find Daphne, take the tape recording and scurry through a maze of underground passages until they tumble onto a conveyor belt that takes them to the Automation Process Plant, a nightmare of pounding machinery, crushing rollers, gleaming cutters and steaming vats.

Escape seems impossible until Lila, now revealed as an agent for S.N.O.G (Society for the Neutralisation of Germs), forces Dr. Crow at gunpoint to stop the Automation Plant. By this time, a broken and frustrated Carstairs is back at H.Q reporting to the Chief. Triumphantly the awkward squad make an unexpected entrance with their prisoner Dr. Crow. But as it is discovered that the S.T.E.N.C.H headquarters lies immediately below them, Bind remembers releasing the Plant destruction switch, and things end with a big, big bang!

review

In many ways, the forgotten gem of the series, Spying is a wonderful pastiche of the sixties spy films that were so prevalent around that era. Here Kenneth Williams takes centre stage as the bumbling head of a trainee team of British spies and uses his 'Snide' persona to full effect in doing so. The film is also noticeable for the first appearance of Barbara Windsor, who is absolutely fantastic as opposed to the rather one dimensional character's that she would later go on to portray in the series. Charles Hawtrey effectively plays Charles Hawtrey, whilst Bernard Cribbins plays the romantic lead. Jim Dale's role in the series continues to grow as the agent Carstairs, but would have to wait until the next film to take a lead role. Finally this is Eric Barkers last film until his cameo in Emmanuelle fourteen years later.

At this stage of the series, the humour was starting to get more saucier and ribald than the earlier series. This was due to the influence of new series scribe Talbot Rothwell.

The film itself has a strong plot, well, strong for the Carry On's anyway. But is slightly let down by the truly bizarre ending, when the Automation Process Plant is put into reverse. Very odd. It's a bit of a shame as it makes the ending seem very rushed, however this is the only negative in a truly superb little film.

As a whole, it's a superb parody that works magnificently. Clearly a very daft spoof of the tremendously successful Bond films, Carry On Spying is one of the best of the black and white entries. Although like its predecessor Carry On Jack, it's centred around a smaller team, this is by far the more successful of the two.

other information

The original name for Charles Hawtrey's character was originally intended to be called James Bind - 001 and a half. Alas following the threat of legal action by EON, producers of the James Bond Franchise, he was renamed Charlie Bind.

The voice of Doctor Crow is provided by John Bluthal, who would go on to play Corporal Clotski in Carry On Follow That Camel.

The film was released under the title of "Agent Oooh!" in Europe.

This was the last 'Carry On' to be made in Black & White.

The films poster is based on the original artwork from the James Bond film 'From Russia With Love'.
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