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Carry On Emmannuelle (1978)



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Here is a complete list of what's good about Carry On Emmannuelle:

1. Kenny Lynch's theme song, "The Woman Is Love Crazy."

That's it. Conveniently, the song is at the beginning, so you can shut the movie off after the first couple minutes and spare yourself the rest. (Lynch, interestingly, played the bus conductor in Carry On Loving.)

The song is a weird asset for a Carry On to have; the others had instrumental music rather than theme songs. But Carry On Emmannuelle doesn't feel much like a Carry On anyway -- nor, for that matter, like Carry On England, which was itself an outlier. The different feel would be fine, though, if it were the least bit entertaining. But there is not the tiniest glimmer of comic inspiration here. It was as if everybody involved with the production had forgotten what comedy was. Most of the regulars are clearly phoning it in, perhaps aware that the film is beyond rescue. Kenneth Williams is the lone exception, seemingly trying to make something of his part, but he might as well not have bothered. The guest star for this episode, Suzanne Danielle, is singularly lacking in charisma.

One of the problems is that the film is more explicit than it should be, though still relatively tame by today's standards. Double entendres were a key component of Carry On humor since the beginning, but the humor was all in the suggestion. Reduce a sneaky double meaning down to a stated fact, and the humor is gone. The other critical part is that humor generally needs to be unintentional. The characters should blunder into things by accident, not pursue them on purpose. It's baffling how this film, coming from successful, experienced veterans of comedy, could break such a basic, fundamental rule. Even the wretched Carry On England got that one right.

Carry On Emmannuelle is easily the worst film of the series. It also did even worse at the box office than Carry On England. The two failures were too much for the series to withstand, and it ended. A revival would be attempted 14 years later, but the series had already outlived its time. People's taste in comedy had moved on to other kinds of humor; the Carry Ons were feeling more and more dated. Personally, though, I think the series would have had better success if it had not tried so hard to keep up with the times. Looking back on the series today, the likes of Carry On Doctor and Carry On Cleo still feel timeless, while Carry On Emmannuelle is a quaint artifact from a bygone era.

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