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Carry On Columbus (1992)



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14 years after Carry On Emmannuelle, producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas took a shot at reviving the series. To mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovering America, the film was about Columbus and his historic voyage.

Jim Dale plays Columbus, his first role in the series since Carry On Again Doctor. His presence is a welcome sight, but he shouldn't have bothered. After a thinly promising start, the film becomes excruciatingly unfunny. Some scenes are so messy and uncoordinated that one wonders if they were actually written or just improvised. On the other hand, they lack the spontaneity of improvisation.

The only other series regular in Carry On Columbus is Jack Douglas, but bizarrely, shockingly, and unforgivably, he is given absolutely nothing to do. He's basically a speaking extra in this. It's not even a cameo performance, where he shows up conspicuously in a single scene and has a joke. The movie doesn't ever really acknowledge his presence or ask him to be funny. He's just there.

Ditto Jon Pertwee, who had small but scene-stealing roles in three earlier Carry Ons, but has nothing to do here. (Actually, I understand most of his part was cut.) Other former guest stars are also present: Leslie Phillips and June Whitfield each make their fourth appearance in the series, Bernard Cribbins makes his third, and Peter Gilmore makes his eleventh. But this is all mere trivia, as Dale is the only one who gets to do anything. As I said, he does a reasonably good job, but the script lets him down. He's got nothing to play against, so his efforts are wasted.

As I understand it, the problem was that it was rushed into production so that it could be finished before the 500th anniversary was over. The writer, Dave Freeman, who had a reasonably successful series entry with Carry On Behind, only had two weeks to write the script. He admits that the script was not funny. Needless to say, the finished film did not revive the series, as Peter Rogers had been hoping.

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