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Carry On Again Doctor (1969)



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Third and weakest of the four medically-themed entries of the series, Carry On Again Doctor is a confusing tangle of good jokes and misfires, of intriguing plot twists and tiresome ones. One moment you get a great scene like Peter Butterworth's cameo, and then somehow you get a bunch of painful nonsense about potions that do unfunny things to people.

And where did this plot come from? The best of the Carry On humor works because no matter how idiosyncratic the characters are, we can relate to them on some level. Jim Dale is the meek man wants to make good, Kenneth Connor must overcome his neuroses to find love, Kenneth Williams is the stickler for propriety, Hattie Jacques has a newly awakened passion, and so on. These are all simple but identifiable character types, and because we can relate to them, we can laugh when their goals are frustrated. But what's going on here? Sidney James plays some kook on an island? What does he want, and why does he want it? The answers aren't clear. And if the answers aren't clear, the character doesn't work, and if the character doesn't work, he's not funny.

Other characters do work. Jim Dale, unfortunately in his last role in the series until the terrible 1992 revival, is once again wonderful as the film's protagonist. We also have Patsy Rowlands' first appearance in the series. Rowlands appeared in nine Carry Ons total, almost always playing a bored, slouchy frump, who could be transformed into a passionate woman with the right kind of encouragement. She never had a large role but always added a wonderful texture and a few great moments to her films.

Ultimately, I liked enough of Carry On Again Doctor to give it a marginal recommendation. I laughed quite a lot, and that's about all you can expect from this series. I just wish I hadn't had to slap my forehead so much, too.

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