Main      Site Guide    
At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Carry On Nurse (1959)



Reviews and Comments

This second entry in the Carry On series was an even bigger hit than the first and solidified its status as a series. This time around, the action takes place in a hospital and concerns the mishaps of oddball patients playing against the straight-laced nurses and the indomitable matron. Joan Sims makes her first appearance in the series; she would go on to star in 24 of the 31 films, more than anyone besides Kenneth Williams. Guest stars include the wonderful Wilfrid Hyde-White (his only Carry On appearance) and Joan Hickson (who had small but delightful roles in five). As with many of the early entries in the series, Kenneth Connor and Hattie Jacques steal the show; alone among the regulars, their comic personas were fully-formed right out of the gate. The others, particularly Kenneth Williams, were still working on theirs. Of course, by this stage it wasn't even clear who the regulars were. Among the returning cast from Carry On Sergeant were Shirley Eaton, Leslie Phillips, Bill Owen, and Terence Longdon, but none of them would appear in many more.

Carry On Nurse is a good comedy, but for my money it doesn't live up to its astonishing success, which was great enough that it inspired three further medical Carry Ons. The film lacks the cohesion of its predecessor, perhaps because there is no central problem -- e.g., can the platoon of misfits pull through? -- upon which to wind the comic tension. It works not because the film as a whole works but because several well-done scenes overshadow the dry spells.

Perhaps the film's popularity was due to its humor, which was rather risque for 1959. The daffodil bit, for instance, might be the most famous joke in the series. But it's funny not because it's naughty but because of the finesse in its execution: when Hattie Jacques delivers the key line, we laugh; but it's when this humorless character cracks a glimmer of a smile that we feel good about it.

Series Entries

Related Films