The Boob Tube #52: Carry On Christmas
As you may know, I'm a big fan of the Carry On films - the Carry On gang are brilliant, and the humor is that magical mix Benny Hill knew so well: ribald humor + stupid gags = a damn fun time.
There were a few Carry On Christmas specials: Carry On Christmas (1969), Carry On Again Christmas (1970), Carry On Christmas: Carry On Stuffing (1972) and Carry On Christmas (1973). (There wasn't one in 1971 because the Carry On flick in theaters was a flop that year.)
I happened to catch the '69 and '72 editions recently...
Carry On Christmas (1969)
Sid James is Scrooge. In this version of A Christmas Carol, the ghosts show him how his stinginess and greed has affected others. What follows is unfortunately, not very funny. Yet, the Carry On regulars (Terry Scott, Bernard Bresslaw, Charles Hawtrey, Peter Butterworth, Hattie Jacques, and Barbara Windsor - without Kenneth Williams) are always a joy to watch, no matter how lame the punch lines.
Oddly enough, there's a segment that would have been at home in a Halloween special, but seems wildly out of place here. Scrooge is shown a vision of a mad scientist's lair where Dr. Frank N. Stein (Scott) and his buddy Dracula (Butterworth) are working on the Frankenstein monster to serve as a mate for Fanny (Windsor a la Bride of Frankenstein).
It seems Dr. Stein can't handle the overly amorous Fannie and has constructed the monster to lure her away from him.
The plan seems to work at first, as Fannie is attracted to the hulking beast. But due to Scrooge's stinginess there's a problem: the monster is gay for Dr. Stein instead! (insert laugh track)
The final segment is a Cinderella type story, with lots of older gentlemen showing up in drag. Considering I don't find cross-dressing a thing of great humor, this sketch offered nothing but a look at Windsor in a short tattered skirt... which is nothing to sneeze at.
All in all, it's all pretty forgettable, and you'll likely never laugh audibly; but it will deliver some good old fashioned Christmas cheer seeing the Carry On gang having loads of fun - the merriment is contagious.
Carry On Christmas: Carry On Stuffing (1972)
For this helping of Carry On Christmas the sketches are surrounding a bawdy holiday dinner. Each guest takes turns telling a merry tale.
Among the revelers is a serving wench played by Valerie Leon (Blood from the Mummy's Tomb, The Spy Who Loved Me, Carry On Matron).
Leon has popped up on Retrospace a number of times including Cinema #32: Actresses on Nude Scenes, and a Japanese Advertising post.
The first bawdy tale involves Adam (Jack Douglas) and Eve (Barbara Windsor). It ends with an underwhelming punchline involving Adam eating her fig leaf.
You can't help but love Windsor - always willing to provide both cheesecake and comedy. Each are done well and are much appreciated.
A few of the skits fall short for me, including this one called "The Last Outpost" where military men and their women must commit suicide before being taken by the enemy. What is sorely lacking from this Carry On special is Sid James. He would have taken up the slack for the lackluster sketches.
The final story is Aladdin where Windsor wears an amazingly short dress throughout - reason enough to watch this special.
She rubs the lamp and out pops a flamboyantly gay genie (Norman Rossington). As you can see, this predates CGI by a handful of decades.
As you can imagine, it's all extremely silly, but the laughs come rapidly. For every joke that fails, there two or three coming right behind it to make you smile. I can think of worse ways to spend 50 minutes in December.