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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Follow That Camel (1967)

(aka: Carry On - Follow That Camel)



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Follow That Camel puts the Carry On crew in the foreign legion and transports them to the deserts of Algeria -- or, well, East Sussex doubling for Algeria, which works better than you'd think. The leading guest star this time is none other than Phil Silvers, of Sergeant Bilko fame. The producers cast him to try to appeal to American audiences. In the end, however, the film performed no better or worse than the other Carry On films, so future installments would continue to cast British actors.

The addition of Phil Silvers works better than you'd think, however: he essentially reprises his Sergeant Bilko character, which somehow falls right in line with the traditional Carry On sensibilities. He fills in for Sidney James, who often played similar characters, just less frenzied and effusive. Silvers has a chance to play against several of the regulars, particularly the easily exasperated Kenneth Williams.

Amusing though it is, somehow the film doesn't seem to gel the way it should. It feels cobbled together out of slightly mismatched chunks instead of existing as a singular whole. For example, there is a promising sequence early on where Phil Silvers tries to con his way out of a series of punishments by cozying up to the boss. But before the set-up is properly exploited, the film shifts into a different plotline. Additionally, writer Talbot Rothwell seems not to have known how to write the female portion of the cast into the storyline. Joan Sims feels shoehorned into place, while Angela Douglas and Anita Harris act as little more than catalysts for the other characters.

On the other hand, Follow That Camel's weaknesses probably feel more pronounced than they should, just because the film occurs right in the middle of the series' creative peak. It is not at all bad, and in fact it ranks above many of earliest and latest films in the series. Silvers brings a welcome new flavor into the mix, and there are many laughs to be had.

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