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Carry On conference!

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

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lauraxsynthesis

#60
I've now posted a review of Can't Stop Carrying On, a one-man show about the Carry Ons. The theatre company contacted Richard Dhillon, the organiser of the conference, to suggest they bring a performance to Coventry to coincide with it. I enjoyed it and the Q&A after lots and do recommend it.

One of the things I learned on the night is that Peter Rogers and someone named Ken Burns started making CO animations called The Carryoons with Jack Douglas and Patrick Allan as well as David Benson as Williams, Sam Spiro as Windsor and Kenneth Connor's son Jeremy as him.

Quote from: PinkNoise on May 31, 2024, 04:46:35 PMI 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.

My theory, which belongs to me, is as follows... This is how it goes... The next thing that I am about to say is my theory:

It was a terrible idea to set in a lavatory/ceramics factor called W C Boggs and boring to make it about a trade union*, but I think it also underestimated punters' distaste for too much literal toilet humour. These were the days when a sitcom or sketch show could get a big laugh of release-embarrassment from the mere mention of the word bedpan or the sound of a toilet flushing behind closed doors, but nothing more than that, and only very occasionally. People were squeamish about bodily functions in 1970. They liked innuendo, but this was just too unsubtle and unattractive. But crucially more than that, the idea simply didn't offer much expectation of escapism from people's own routine lives.

* A sitcom based on that premise would have sunk like a stone

lauraxsynthesis

@Maureen Brontë I think that's a very sensible explanation. I've always disliked toilet humour so found Convenience a hard watch. I assumed this was the sort of thing that appealed to the average Brit, but can easily believe the grottiness and relentlessness of gags like making Patsy Rowlands repeatedly sit on the throne would have been too much for people.

madhair60


lauraxsynthesis

Carry On Paying the Actors

Here's a slide from one of the presentations.


Joan was paid by the day on other COs as well, and no one in the room yesterday knew why. On Cleo it worked out as £4500, so paired with Connor and above Hawtrey. We learned that from one film to the next, I forget which, there was a sudden jump of Rogers' and Thomas' pay from £5k to £15k. As has already been said, the actors didn't get get significant increases to their fees. What became relevant later of course, is if the actors made nothing from repeated TV broadcasts or video releases, which was an accusation leveled at Rogers in the play later that night. 

A few months ago I heard that Rogers left £3M from his estate to The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. Maybe, as in the play, he was visited by the ghost of Kenneth Williams. Certainly Williams felt that Rogers should do something to look after the minor role actors who also reappeared in the films across the years and would have been even more economically precarious than the stars.

The Guardian obituary said,
Rogers offered to create a "commonwealth", in which all the players would be paid a percentage of the profits. The actors rejected this because they could not make up their minds about how the profits would be distributed among major and minor roles.

When I mentioned Howerd's fees yesterday, I hadn't spotted that he got a massive cut of the Up Pompeii profits. This is from the fantastic presentation from a York University archivist on what he found in the Howerd archive in relation to the Carry Ons.




Andy147

Quote from: Maureen Brontë on May 31, 2024, 08:06:24 PMMy theory, which belongs to me, is as follows... This is how it goes... The next thing that I am about to say is my theory:

It was a terrible idea to set in a lavatory/ceramics factor called W C Boggs and boring to make it about a trade union*

* A sitcom based on that premise would have sunk like a stone

Wasn't "The Rag Trade" based partly on that premise (the trade union bit, obviously not the lavatory factory bit)? Wiki says: 'Although run by Harold Fenner (Peter Jones) and the foreman and pattern cutter Reg Turner (Reg Varney), the female workers are led by militant shop steward Paddy Fleming (Miriam Karlin), ever ready to strike, with the catchphrase "Everybody out!"' That ran for 5 series in the 60s/70s.

lauraxsynthesis

Carry on Columbus
I suspect that most presenters didn't make reference to Columbus because it wasn't relevant to their chosen subject - the social context was so different in the 1990s from the '60s & '70s, Kenneth Williams wasn't in it, it wasn't written by Talbot Rothwell, the funding situation was different etc.

It was therefore a bit jarring when finally it did come up in Queer Theorist and lawyer Chris Ashford's talk, Law, Homosex(uality) and the Carry On Films: Legal History, Cinematic Comedy and the Lives of Hawtrey, Howerd, Williams and Clary. Ashford acknowledged that it was a surprise to mention Columbus, and told us it's not as bad as we think. From my rewatch last year, I agree with him. I'm posting all the slides I took pictures of from his presentation.




Ashford pointed out that although Julian Clary was fairly new to acting and his performance wasn't great, his character did "shine through" and deserves to have a lasting legacy. He brought to the films his own persona of a very sexualised way of being out. His first line in the film is the sort of thing Hawtrey would say, but from there he would say things that only Julian Clary would say, like "I could do with something hot inside me".

I'd never heard before that in 1993 someone attempted to blackmail Clary in an Australian state with a particularly high gay sex age of consent. He ignored the attempt, but it's interesting that he had potential legal persecution in common with previous Carry On gay actors.




Columbus was an important part of the play Can't Stop Carrying On which was performed after the conference and I write about it a bit in my review.

Quote from: Andy147 on May 31, 2024, 09:12:06 PMWasn't "The Rag Trade" based partly on that premise (the trade union bit, obviously not the lavatory factory bit)? Wiki says: 'Although run by Harold Fenner (Peter Jones) and the foreman and pattern cutter Reg Turner (Reg Varney), the female workers are led by militant shop steward Paddy Fleming (Miriam Karlin), ever ready to strike, with the catchphrase "Everybody out!"' That ran for 5 series in the 60s/70s.

True, but I meant something like a replication of the Carry On film. From what I've seen The Rag Trade had a certain charm and well-drawn characters which I guess would make a difference.
Incidentally, one of Les Dawson's first roles was as a union leader in a late-1960s Comedy Playhouse pilot. It wasn't picked up for a series, unlike eg The Liver Birds, Me Mammy and Up Pompeii! around the same time.

superthunderstingcar

"Oh hello! Or The Prologue" and "Enter Julian Clary (if you please)" are fantastic slide headers, I only hope the rest of the presentation lived up to them.

lauraxsynthesis

Carry On Lesbians
I'd never heard before yesterday that Amanda Barrie was a lesbian.

As mentioned in earlier posts, at the conference and the theatre in the evening, a number of gay/queer men shared that the Carry Ons, and particularly Kenneth Williams, were important for providing representation when they were growing up. I was surprised that presentations really spoke very little about lesbians, butch women, women in male drag or other gender nonconforming representations in the films. There was a bit of discussion in Q&As and I had some good convos during breaks, and here is what I've got.

I want to know why we got (I think?) just the one coded butch lesbian character - June Whitfield's sidekick Rosemary in Girls. Patricia Franklin didn't get any comedy to do in the role, but I enjoyed the June & Rosemary double act.



I wondered if Rogers, Rothwell and Thomas just didn't find lesbians funny. One panelist yesterday had the theory that the lack in the films was due to the general lesbian invisibility in society. They had to be visible in society to then be an archetype in the films. That's plausible, but the archetypes in the Carry Ons tended to come from Music Hall, which had loads of drag kings. I wonder if it might come down to casting. Gerald Thomas didn't deliberately seek to fill the films with camp actors, but at one point, ended up with three in one film (Doctor had Frankie Howerd as well as Hawtrey and Williams). It's not beyond the realm that a lesbian actress, butch or otherwise could have regularly appeared and been given the odd bit of subtext, if Thomas had found a performer he liked.

Judith Furse comes to mind. She was in 3 of the first 9 films, most memorably as the awesome Doctor Crow in Spying - a character we might call Nonbinary. Imagine if she'd become part of the core cast, or reappeared more often, and got to be regularly coded LGBTQ or NB. A missed opportunity.




Carry On Dragging
One of the non-presenting punters like myself at the conference was someone writing a book about drag in the Carry Ons. I'm well up for reading that. It seems to me like drag is really shoehorned into some of the films. Peter Butterworth's disguise in Follow That Camel, for example was a bit of a tangent, I thought. It's as if a bit of drag just can't be done without, and they'll find a way to include it even if it's Sid, rather than Joan, disguised as a fortune teller in Convenience. It's a clear continuation of the Music Hall and Panto traditions, and I wouldn't be surprised if the female characters in male drag owed something to Shakespeare in the minds of the filmmakers. 

Anyway, here's one of the multiple times we get Windsor in drag in Dick.

frajer

Not a huge amount to add except to say I'm really enjoying this thread!

I used to love the Carry On films as a nipper, especially the historicals and the fabulous Screaming. Haven't revisited them since but think I will now.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: frajer on June 01, 2024, 01:31:31 PMNot a huge amount to add except to say I'm really enjoying this thread!

I used to love the Carry On films as a nipper, especially the historicals and the fabulous Screaming. Haven't revisited them since but think I will now.

If you're in the UK, most of them are on ITV on demand in excellent image quality and nice new artwork for each one in the catalogue. I sense some love from whoever put all that together. ITVX has free first month subscriptions and it's cheap after that.

lauraxsynthesis

Lorna-Jane Richardson (East Anglia)
Carry On Archaeology: Getting to the Bottom of Things



One of the delights of the conference was the deep dives we got from various specialists, including a talk by an archaeologist about Carry On Behind. This was the only talk by a woman. My notes are a bit bullet-pointy:
-Archaeologists want people to understand their work and for this to lead to the preservation of artifacts.
-They are often portrayed in media, but not generally in ways that they like.
-They want to be seen as serious scholars.
-They don't like being "figures of fun".
-However, being on a dig is fun and can be sexy.
-It was very rare for women to be portrayed as archaeologists in media until the 1980s. Elke Sommers' Vooshka is one of the best portrayals of  a female archaeologist - see the slide above.
-Richardson thinks there must have been an archaeological advisor on Behind because of things like the inclusion of specialist techniques and tools including a theodolite.
-Kenneth Williams' Professor Crump keeps his theodolite his by his bed.
-The film ends with a penis being restored in a Roman mosaic, and this is pretty authentic. "We underestimate how filthy the past was. Especially the Romans. They were obsessed with penises."

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on June 01, 2024, 03:27:00 PMOne of the delights of the conference was the deep dives we got from various specialists, including a talk by an archaeologist about Carry On Behind. This was the only talk by a woman. My notes are a bit bullet-pointy:
-Archaeologists want people to understand their work and for this to lead to the preservation of artifacts.
-They are often portrayed in media, but not generally in ways that they like.
-They want to be seen as serious scholars.
-They don't like being "figures of fun".
-However, being on a dig is fun and can be sexy.
-It was very rare for women to be portrayed as archaeologists in media until the 1980s. Elke Sommers' Vooshka is one of the best portrayals of  a female archaeologist - see the slide above.
-Richardson thinks there must have been an archaeological advisor on Behind because of things like the inclusion of specialist techniques and tools including a theodolite.
-Kenneth Williams' Professor Crump keeps his theodolite his by his bed.
-The film ends with a penis being restored in a Roman mosaic, and this is pretty authentic. "We underestimate how filthy the past was. Especially the Romans. They were obsessed with penises."
It's no coincidence that just 2 years after the film came out, paleopathologist and osteoarchaeologist Professor Alice Roberts was born. She's also obsessed with penises.

Catalogue Trousers

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 31, 2024, 07:56:41 PMOne of the things I learned on the night is that Peter Rogers and someone named Ken Burns started making CO animations called The Carryoons with Jack Douglas and Patrick Allan as well as David Benson as Williams, Sam Spiro as Windsor and Kenneth Connor's son Jeremy as him.

There's at least one online and, sad to say, it's awful. Lots of fourth-wall-breaking 'meta' humour that really doesn't fit Carry On, use of words like 'flaps' and 'erection' that seem a bit too knowing for Carry On - the likes of 'crumpet' and 'bristols' have an endearing childish innocence to them which such more obvious double entendres don't have. Also, most of the vocal performances are bloody awful. Poor Jack Douglas. I felt sorry for him.

Blumf

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on June 01, 2024, 11:30:11 AMCarry On Lesbians
I'd never heard before yesterday that Amanda Barrie was a lesbian.

Ditto.

Was there anything about Joan Sims? There's always been a hole there in the centre of her life, which seems hard to explain by her just being unlucky in love. But as far as I know, she was never known to be a lesbian.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: Blumf on June 01, 2024, 08:01:24 PMWas there anything about Joan Sims? There's always been a hole there in the centre of her life, which seems hard to explain by her just being unlucky in love. But as far as I know, she was never known to be a lesbian.
There wasn't much about any of the performers' personal lives. One Queer Theorist said a bit about aspects of Joan's & Hattie's autobiography/lives that indicated they were/would consider themselves what's known as "fag hags". I did come away from the conference intending to have a look at Joan's autobiography and/or her authorised bio.

Ignatius_S

Quote from: Blumf on June 01, 2024, 08:01:24 PMDitto.

Was there anything about Joan Sims? There's always been a hole there in the centre of her life, which seems hard to explain by her just being unlucky in love. But as far as I know, she was never known to be a lesbian.

I believe Barrie identifies as bisexual and has essentially said she doesn't really care for labels. When she came out as bisexual, there was a fair bit of press at the time but not very sensationalist. I'm sure what there were later stories about Barrie that mentioned she was in a long-term relationship with  Hilary Bonner but all in a very matter-of-fact kind of way.

Sims has serious relationships with men, none of which worked out. She did suffer a lot of depression and also had alcoholism; I think she also developed quite a lot of health problems. Going from memory, but when she was in the Dennis Waterman sitcom, On The Up, it was something of a comeback because of her struggles. I watched some of the series recently and although no great shakes, it's a perfectly solid series - but as it was written by Bob Larbey, one would expect that.

I remember Liz Fraser being interviewed for an article - can't remember if it was Carry On related but money did come up and she mentioned that she had invested in property and was quite comfortably off. Fraser mentioned that this was very different to 'dear old Joanie Sims' who died penniless and in a nursing home for actors; the phrasing of which sat poorly with me, I seem to remember.

The Bumlord

My main memory of Dick is that they seemed to deliberately double down on Babs Windsor getting her babs out.

Has anyone actually seen Carry On Emmanuelle?

lauraxsynthesis

On a happier note, although of course he's a wrong 'un, Joan was in that Morrissey video in 1989.


Stinky Lomax

But perhaps most importantly, she was Lady Fox-Custard in Simon and the Witch.

Catalogue Trousers

Quote from: The Bumlord on June 02, 2024, 03:19:29 PMHas anyone actually seen Carry On Emmanuelle?

Well, Stuart Millard, at least...

https://spam.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/carry-on-retching/

EDIT: Tsk. It's doing that 'spam' thing with the address again. Just search 'frantic planet emmannuelle' and you should find it easily enough.

Blumf

Quote from: The Bumlord on June 02, 2024, 03:19:29 PMMy main memory of Dick is that they seemed to deliberately double down on Babs Windsor getting her babs out.

My main one is Hattie pumping the organ. Though I'm all for Babs babs.

QuoteHas anyone actually seen Carry On Emmanuelle?

There is absolutely nothing redeeming about it. Boring, unfunny, unsexy, and the sheer hell watching the Carry On regulars stuck in the middle of it all.

I think I'd even rate the 80s St Trinian's above it.

imitationleather

Said it before, will say it again: Carry On England is far, far, far worse than Emmanuelle. England is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life.

Blumf

Nah, England at least has a viable plot and some jokes, it approaches the Confessions of... series. Emmanuelle has nothing.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: Catalogue Trousers on June 02, 2024, 03:54:01 PMWell, Stuart Millard, at least...

That was wonderful. Yet another Patreon to eat my time.

I was going to be famous, just like Kenneth, and that decades later, people would be reading about my daily hob-nobbing with the stars, and eventual lonely suicide.

Thanks for that mental image of 60-year-old Kenneth Connor performing oral sex.


One presenter asked for a show of hands of who'd seen Emmannuelle. Most people had. Then he jokingly half-asked who had watched it in shame.

So far I haven't been able to bring myself to have a look, and after reading that review I think maybe I never will.

A presenter who had gone through the Gerald Thomas archive at the BFI, found that the Emmannuelle files were several times the size of all previous films. The film had lots of production problems, fights with investors and even litigation. A single of the theme song was produced and the film's name was misspelled on it. Cock up from beginning to end - oo-er

idunnosomename

thanks for this thread and its reports. these conferences are usually great, not wanky theory slammed on stuff but great primary research above all. kinda wish I'd gone to the Life of Brian conference at King's a decade ago, it got massively oversubscribed though, unless I'd booked early I couldn't have got in. there's videos on youtube but they're shit and they don't show the screens.

they did publish transactions which hopefully this will too
https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/jesus-and-brian-9780567658319/

famethrowa

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on June 02, 2024, 03:21:25 PMOn a happier note, although of course he's a wrong 'un, Joan was in that Morrissey video in 1989.



That was quite lovely thank you. Never seen it before!

mhmhmh

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 31, 2024, 10:12:59 PMAshford pointed out that although Julian Clary was fairly new to acting and his performance wasn't great, his character did "shine through" and deserves to have a lasting legacy. He brought to the films his own persona of a very sexualised way of being out. His first line in the film is the sort of thing Hawtrey would say, but from there he would say things that only Julian Clary would say, like "I could do with something hot inside me".



100%. We saw this at the Odeon Leicester Square when it opened and Julian Clary had far more screen presence than the other newcomers. Just looked at the cast list, Larry Miller is in it.

MrMealDeal

Was there a postcolonial analysis of Carry on Abroad as advertised?

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