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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Carry On Loving (1970)



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Sid James and Hattie Jacques run a matchmaking business. This is the connecting tissue between several mostly unconnected boy meets girl comedies. Structurally, it's strongly reminiscent of Carry On Regardless. Not surprisingly, emulating a passable but weak entry in the series results in another passable but weak entry in the series.

The ingredients for a better comedy are here, but the Carry On machine was wearing out by this point. The writing is sufficient but not as sharp as it was, and the timing is off-kilter. One extended gag, for example, involves a zipper that gets repeatedly done and undone as various people unexpectedly enter and exit an apartment. When I think back on it, I remember it as being funny, but I also remember not particularly laughing at the time. I think that's because the joke was a good one, but the timing was wrong: it goes on too long, and the pace within the scene doesn't escalate as a compounded joke should. In my memory, though, my brain can replay the joke with corrected timing, so it works better in my head than it did originally.

The climax of the film is a fallback on the old pie fight routine. The pie fight, honored in the heritage of comedy as it may be, is a device for lazy writers. They can be made to work if the pie fight is used as a framework for comedy within it, but most of the time, as here, the fight itself is treated as the comedy. Pie fights, alas, are not inherently funny. Worse, the fight feels more like a distraction from the plot threads that led to it, rather than a resolution of them.

Carry On Loving is still worth seeing, and it has many moments where the Carry On regulars get to shine. Still, the specter of better episodes of the series loom over the proceedings.

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