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Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)



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Carry On At Your Convenience might be the most divisive entry in the series. It is ignored by many fans, yet upheld as one of the best, maybe even the best, by many others. Complicating the picture is the fact that this was the series' first financial failure. The conventional wisdom is that the series' blue collar audiences didn't take kindly to the film's satire of labor unions, which was a particularly touchy point in Britain in 1971. But the blame may more accurately lie at the feet of timid studio executives, who thought that's how audiences would react and therefore gave it only a limited theatrical run and minimal advertising.

Regardless of why it failed originally, it has since been rediscovered and upheld as a high point in the series, as it should be. I don't go as far as some and call it the best, but it's certainly one of the best of the 70s. There's something special about it, too: This is one of the few Carry On films whose humor reaches beyond the throwaway one-liners and mischievous shenanigans and forges into satire. Consider, for example, the Kenneth Cope character, a union leader who, hilariously, is always calling strikes over the tiniest infractions, real or imagined.

There are all kinds of wonderful little subplots, too. Sidney James, who plays a real character for a change, has a lovely scene with Joan Sims, in one of the rare moments of sincerity in the series. Kenneth Williams gets all the usual opportunities to unwittingly ooze double entendres and be intimidated by romance (this time by Patsy Rowlands), but this time his antics are given an unusually sympathetic context which adds some poignance without dampening the humor.

I am probably making this film sound more serious than it really is. To be sure, this is every bit the madcap comedy the Carry On name implies. But it is also more.

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