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Carry On Dick (1974)



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I don't understand why this movie doesn't work. Everything that was broken about the previous series entry, Carry On Girls, seems to have been fixed. Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques are back. Sid James is given something to work with. The story has a tangle of rivalries that open up comic possibilities. There is also a return to the historical setting that the series has tended to do well with.

But aside from a great line from Joan Sims ("I told you it was my only means of support!"), I didn't find much in this to enjoy. One of the problems is that the films were getting steadily coarser as the series went on. Consider for a moment that this film is about the escapades of the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin, and you'll know what kind of jokes the film couldn't resist, but should have.

Writer Talbot Rothwell was having a rough time of it anyhow. His failing health required that he dictate the script and retire afterward. Future Carry Ons tried to emulate his style, with varying and mostly poor results.

This wasn't just Rothwell's last Carry On, but the last for Sidney James and Hattie Jacques, too. Also Barbara Windsor, except for her co-hosting work on the retrospective That's Carry On. For these reasons, many consider this the last "real" Carry On. I don't agree. The thing about the Carry On series is that no single person, in front of or behind the camera, was indispensable. In any case, the heyday of the series was already over.

After Carry On Dick, the franchise moved briefly to television, in a show called Carry On Laughing. Twelve episodes were broadcast in 1975. James, Windsor, and Jacques made appearances, but Jack Douglas, Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims were the usual leads, with Peter Butterworth and Bernard Bresslaw also showing up now and again. The television show ranged from terrible all the way up to almost tolerable. Except for the Carry On name, it would surely be forgotten today. But at the end of that year, the franchise returned once again to the big screen.

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