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Carry On conference!

Started by lauraxsynthesis, April 09, 2024, 08:30:59 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

jamiefairlie

Quote from: Blumf on May 30, 2024, 02:47:07 PMThe Joan/Sid affair in Convenience is surprisingly touching. I'd love to see that outtake.

I do love how Joan can be cast as the dolly bird bit on the side in one film and then the dowdy frumpy ball and chain trouble and strife in another, without appearing in any way different in either.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: shiftwork2 on May 30, 2024, 02:36:54 PMI'm sorry - you're actually at this thing?

The more I thought about it, the better an idea it seemed. So I've taken a day's annual leave and come to Coventry to geek out. Having a great time!

I'm audio recording some of the presentations if anyone wants 'em. Particularly the ones about Howerd & Williams.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: jamiefairlie on May 30, 2024, 02:58:35 PMI do love how Joan can be cast as the dolly bird bit on the side in one film and then the dowdy frumpy ball and chain trouble and strife in another, without appearing in any way different in either.


For real. Every time I've seen one for the first time I wonder which way it's going to go. It's one of the few things that undercuts the sexism in the franchise.

jamiefairlie

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 30, 2024, 03:30:55 PMFor real. Every time I've seen one for the first time I wonder which way it's going to go. It's one of the few things that undercuts the sexism in the franchise.

I think it unwittingly adds to the cartoon quality of it all which is part of its longevity. It kind of exists in its own little universe.

poodlefaker

Sid: rectilinear; Joan: curvilinear.

shiftwork2

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 30, 2024, 03:22:42 PMThe more I thought about it, the better an idea it seemed. So I've taken a day's annual leave and come to Coventry to geek out. Having a great time!

I'm audio recording some of the presentations if anyone wants 'em. Particularly the ones about Howerd & Williams.

It sounds great tbh.  How much did you pay to get in?  Pound?

Autopsy Turvey

Quote from: jamiefairlie on May 30, 2024, 02:58:35 PMI do love how Joan can be cast as the dolly bird bit on the side in one film and then the dowdy frumpy ball and chain trouble and strife in another, without appearing in any way different in either.

Not appearing different in *any way*? Chloe Gibson in Doctor, Desiree in Don't Lose Your Head and Emily Bung in Screaming could be three separate  actresses!

lauraxsynthesis

@shiftwork2 £20-odd, I think. We got a very good lunch. There are also pastries, but not vegan ones. Nice lecture theatre in the posh new arts building.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: Autopsy Turvey on May 30, 2024, 04:27:56 PMNot appearing different in *any way*? Chloe Gibson in Doctor, Desiree in Don't Lose Your Head and Emily Bung in Screaming could be three separate  actresses!

and Zig-Zig in Follow that Camel

madhair60

carry on... posting in this thread

Goldentony

this sounds amazing, have you had any Carry On Abroad gossip yet?

lauraxsynthesis

#41
Conference report part 2 of ?
The presenters were younger than I expected for people interested in Carry Ons, but I wasn't taking into account that the films were on telly in the '80s. I think there were 3 women at the whole event. The average attendee or presenter was a gay/queer man in his late 30s or 40s.  I imagine that may be the average age of a presenter at an academic conference - mid-career Assistant Professors or whatever.

Very wide-ranging topics covered though there were interesting recurring themes. In particular, the revival of National Service this week kept coming up in the context of Carry On Sergeant. Several presentations were at least in part about Kenneth Williams, and it was clear that he was an important figure of gay representation in many men's childhoods. We were reminded, as he wrote in his diary, that he was scornful of the tendency in the 1960s to make homosexuality a "serious" subject and for gay characters to be tragic. He consciously chose to be joyfully camp in his expression.           

Some possible myths were challenged. James Chapman said in his presentation Carry On Budgeting: The economic and Fiscal Contexts of the Carry On Series that the Carry Ons weren't "cheap" or low-cost productions, but after the first few were mid-range for British films of the time. He also disputed that the actors were poorly paid. A later presentation about Frankie Howerd showed some conversions that indicated he was on the equivalent of around £360k for the Carry Ons he was in as well as for the Up Pompeii film. A couple of presenters did say that the actors could have gotten more if they'd had "better agents". One film budget we were shown had cast costs as 18% of total budget - no idea how that compares to these days.

Convenience came up a lot. The first CO to lose money, possibly because the working-class audience didn't like the negative portrayal of unions. It was observed that when everyone was pissed at the seaside it was the managers who were the agents of chaos. Another presenter also mentioned how "touching" that scene between Joan & Sid was. I might clip it later, but it's 1 hour 12 mins in:
https://www.itv.com/watch/carry-on-at-your-convenience/CFD0106a0001

In Reevaluating Carry On Screaming's (1966) Role in the Horror Parody Canon, Reece Goodall (Warwick) told us that Screaming tends to not be included in writings on horror parodies. Scholars seemed to just consider it a bit crap. He rates it as a quality parody though - enough actual scariness, a good use of horror tropes like the mad scientist rather than specific stock characters like Dracula, it looks great etc. We were told that Hawtrey was included beause the Americans loved him and wanted him in it and that his short appearance and quick dispatch might have been a cheeky response to the American demands.

One of the queer theorists later in the day pointed out that Hawtrey being a toilet attendant in Screaming was potential queer coding if one wants to see it.

Will come back with more in part 3! Here's something from the Gerald Thomas archive at BFI in the mean time:



lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: Goldentony on May 30, 2024, 06:12:27 PMthis sounds amazing, have you had any Carry On Abroad gossip yet?

Can't think of anything that would count as gossip. There was almost no reference to bts stuff. For that you'd want your Robert Ross events.

shiftwork2

Hawtrey didn't appear to me, as a kid, to be gay.  He was simply a bespectacled weed.  He was my favourite player.  Williams was as gay as could be even though we didn't know what that meant.

Has there been much Khyber discussion?  It has become the official 'good' Carry On film in recent years.

Goldentony

Carry On Screaming always reminds me of that post on here years ago where someone who was a science type was instructed by head office via email to not, among other things, shout "FRYING TONIGHT RUBBERTITI!" while an inspector was in the lab.

shiftwork2

There is something quite frightening about Frying Tonight even though chippies had stopped using that phrase by my time.

Screaming looks about as 1966 as anything ever has.  Well known as the only Carry On to earn an X certificate.

Goldentony

Quote from: shiftwork2 on May 30, 2024, 08:38:33 PMThere is something quite frightening about Frying Tonight even though chippies had stopped using that phrase by my time.

FRYING TONIGHT definitely shit me up as a child

Stinky Lomax

Interested to know if ...Columbus gets mentioned much, if at all.

Matthew Dawkins Jub Jub

In Coventry right now but frustratingly here for the UK Games Expo in Brum instead of this! This Carry On gala sounds surprisingly good!

gilbertharding

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 30, 2024, 06:31:52 PMConference report part 2 of ?
Convenience came up a lot. The first CO to lose money, possibly because the working-class audience didn't like the negative portrayal of unions. It was observed that when everyone was pissed at the seaside it was the managers who were the agents of chaos.

I don't really buy that. Are they saying that people read reviews discussing the theme and content of Carry On At Your Convenience before handing over their 6/- at the local flea pit? Or perhaps large numbers of people only went to see it once.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: gilbertharding on May 31, 2024, 09:41:46 AMI don't really buy that. Are they saying that people read reviews discussing the theme and content of Carry On At Your Convenience before handing over their 6/- at the local flea pit? Or perhaps large numbers of people only went to see it once.

I kept wondering what other reasons there could be. I should have asked one or two of the presenters if there was data to back up the suggestion that that was the reason.

gilbertharding

I mean, that might be right... it's the version that's on the wikipedia page, but it doesn't say who came up with this reasoning, or when.

The film reminds me of I'm Alright Jack, which was about 12 years earlier, and was apparently the second most profitable British film of that year, beaten by Carry On Nurse.

Interestingly, wikipedia also has this:

QuoteAfter Sid James's character was criticised for leering at some girls in Carry On Henry (1971), here his character was changed to the put-upon family man similar to the character he portrayed in the TV sitcom Bless This House.

horse_renoir

Quote from: gilbertharding on May 31, 2024, 09:41:46 AMI don't really buy that. Are they saying that people read reviews discussing the theme and content of Carry On At Your Convenience before handing over their 6/- at the local flea pit? Or perhaps large numbers of people only went to see it once.

Could it be that independent cinemas chose not to show it? Was there an unofficial 'projectionists union' (if such thing exists?) boycott?

Ignatius_S

#53
Quote from: gilbertharding on May 31, 2024, 10:41:34 AMI mean, that might be right... it's the version that's on the wikipedia page, but it doesn't say who came up with this reasoning, or when.

The film reminds me of I'm Alright Jack, which was about 12 years earlier, and was apparently the second most profitable British film of that year, beaten by Carry On Nurse.

Interestingly, wikipedia also has this:


I don't think there's any definite information to say without a doubt that's the reason, but that's the idea that has gained currency and  I feel with good reason. However, it could be argued that the films were running out of steam and dealing on goodwill towards the cast - some of the concepts were weaker I would say.

There's a good reason it reminds you of I'm Alright Jack - that's what they were trying to go for; this literally was their attempt to do Carry On I'm Alright Jack and shows how out of their depth they were.

Although the Boulting Brothers were aiming at the unions in the former, they didn't play favourites - and the book it was adapted from, Private Life by Alan Hackney, had its satirical sights aimed at a wide range of targets, which does permeate the film to a degree. It's a great book and having seen the film a number of times, was surprised how savage it was. In the book, Fred Kite, the idealistic shop steward, comes across as a rather tragic character and in the film, feel he comes across as surprisingly sympathetic - he's a genuinely principled person who isn't motivated by self-interest.

Whereas, Carry On Convenience was just honing in on the unions. Peter Rogers said when he looked at a picket line, something like 'Right, I'm going to have you.'  That's paraphrasing and relying on memory, which summed up the problem - they were trying to send up industrial problems but in a very heavy-handed, one-sided way.

Re: Sid's roles - although that's said, I'm not convinced that was at play there. In the Carry On TV specials that came after, he was playing very lecherous characters and there was an element of that with Carry On Dick.

However, according to Cliff Goodwin's biography, James was concerned about overexposure and how public opinion can change:

QuoteIn private, Sid was acutely aware of changing public taste and his own image among younger fans. It was for the same reason that six years earlier he had refused to make a third series of Two in Clover. For Sid, and a growing percentage of the British public, there was something slightly grubby about a battered and wrinkled man in his sixties chasing semi-clad women less than half his age. As Jack Douglas put it, 'There comes a time in every man's life when he can no longer lech without being labelled a dirty old so-and-so.'

My impression is this was a considerable factor why he wouldn't handle anymore Carry On parts, no matter how large they were or how satisfying to pull off.

Ignatius_S

Quote from: horse_renoir on May 31, 2024, 01:11:53 PMCould it be that independent cinemas chose not to show it? Was there an unofficial 'projectionists union' (if such thing exists?) boycott?

No.

Also, it's worth remembering that although the once widely held view that British film in the 1970s was basically just horror, sex comedies and sitcom adaptations, has been rightly   debunked, the cinema end of things was going through difficult times. Cinemas were increasingly seedy places and generally were often having trouble attracting audiences.

Ignatius_S

#55
Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 30, 2024, 06:31:52 PMConference report part 2 of ?...

Thanks for the updates!

Re: the pay - although I don't subscribe to the view that the cast was all badly paid - for example, someone like James and Williams were being paid £5K for a couple weeks of week, which wasn't bad - this did vary.

The female actors were paid a lot less - Hattie I think was the big earner but she was getting about two-thirds what Sid and Ken did.

Also, the money didn't really go up over time and from what I remember, people were on the same pay for years.

Phil Silvers got paid £30,000 and I think Elke Sommer the same, which caused some resentment and arguably indicated that there could have been modest pay rises.

Blumf

Quote from: Ignatius_S on May 31, 2024, 01:21:47 PMMy impression is this was a considerable factor why he wouldn't handle anymore Carry On parts, no matter how large they were or how satisfying to pull off.


Blumf

Quote from: Ignatius_S on May 31, 2024, 01:40:19 PMPhil Silvers got paid £30,000 and I think Elke Sommer the same

I knew about Silvers getting a nice wedge, didn't realise Sommer did. Never been able to gauge how big a star she was back then. Lots of English language stuff in the 60s/70s but nothing huge (A Shot in the Dark maybe)

PinkNoise

I subscribe to the Ignatius theory that it wasn't the proles objecting to the storyline of "...At Your Convenience", it was more likely that the series had played itself out, having run for over a decade by this point. I mean, we had "On The Buses" for our low-brow, working class entertainment by then, the first movie instalment of which was incredibly successful for Hammer Films. And they haven't aged half as well as the Carry Ons (although my other half has a morbid obsession with "Holiday On The Buses" having spent most of their youth "summering" at Pontin's).

I'm of a vintage of such that I can recall the "Carry On" series at its lowest critical standing in the mid-70s and early 80s: classic Wednesday night on ITV filler material or those endlessly repeated compilations. As the "Spitting Image" book had it, "the best bits of the crappy old films nobody went to see in the first place".

They were the epitome of the "mid-price" VHS purchase from Woolworths, and it was only when I could ironically rent them from the video shop ("The Video Collection is proud to present... THE BEST OF BRITISH COMEDY!") that I started to become aware of Hancock and Round The Horne and appreciated the heritage of the performers. NME ran a feature about the Carry Ons in 1988!

PinkNoise

Quote from: Blumf on May 31, 2024, 02:14:46 PMI knew about Silvers getting a nice wedge, didn't realise Sommer did. Never been able to gauge how big a star she was back then. Lots of English language stuff in the 60s/70s but nothing huge (A Shot in the Dark maybe)

Elke was something of a "glamorous imported European starlet" in those days - she turns up in Mario Bava's "Baron Blood" and "Lisa & The Devil", the latter with "Television" Savalas. I don't know what this has to do with "Carry On Behind", I'm just trying to look clever in front of the other conference attendees.

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