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July 12, 2024, 06:24:30 PM

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Carry On conference!

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

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lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: MrMealDeal on June 03, 2024, 02:26:53 PMWas there a postcolonial analysis of Carry on Abroad as advertised?
I must have been drifting at that stage of the afternoon, as I don't seem to have written much apart from the presentation largely being about the socio-cultural frame of the package holiday.

Butterworth's Pepe is always incomplete, still being formed, like his hotel. Pepe presenting English food as "foreign", which of course it is to him, points to the fact that everyone including the English are stereotyped in the film.

There was rather more post-colonial analysis in Michael Lawrence (Sussex)' Bidets and Budgerigars: Encounters with the Exotic in Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)

The British working class' consuming of exoticism can be seen in the ownership of a budgie, the Chinese Girl print (sold in Woolworths) in multiple homes in multiple CO films, and Bernard and Kenneth Cope watching an ethnographic film about African women cooking. Narration that was cut from the final film describes how amazing the cooking ritual is, though it clearly isn't (they were going to be shown cooking with matches and a gas cooker), so the exoticism of ethnographic documentaries is satirised. There is a lot of Orientalism in Convenience. The factory is manufacturing bidets for an Arab prince with 1000 wives, so there's the contrast between rinsing and wiping cultures and between the prince and the men of the factory unable to have sex with the women they want. A scene from the first draft of the script has WC Boggs sucking up to an emissary from the prince by offering cushions on the floor and a hookah, but he looks confused, sits on a chair and takes out his own cigarettes. Also, a woman in the factory was going to clearly find the emissary very attractive, and women checking out men was a rarity in the Carry Ons.

There is of course the overriding postcolonial narrative in Convenience that the British factory depends on an order from the Middle East to avoid going out of business (at least until Sid and his budgie save it with some gambling winnings).

Lawrence also said that, "The budgie scenes are the finest scenes in all the Carry On canon" - the performances, the interactions between Hattie and Sid. I'll have to have a rewatch to see if I agree.

MrMealDeal

Interesting analysis, thanks! Although the paper focused mostly on the Middle East as 'exotic' space, I've always thought there was a good article to be written about the ways Europe functioned as a fantasy space of sexual liberation in the British imagination of the 70s.

lauraxsynthesis

#92
Quote from: MrMealDeal on June 04, 2024, 11:28:40 PMInteresting analysis, thanks! Although the paper focused mostly on the Middle East as 'exotic' space, I've always thought there was a good article to be written about the ways Europe functioned as a fantasy space of sexual liberation in the British imagination of the 70s.

Good shout! The event was a success and it seems likely there'll be another, so get your abstract ready!

Ignatius_S

A key plot point in I'm All Right Jack is a big Middle Eastern contract. This is explored in more detail in Private Life, which satirises the views of many characters, which are wholly at odds with post-empire Britain's actual position in the world.

Ignatius_S

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on June 03, 2024, 07:05:14 PMLawrence also said that, "The budgie scenes are the finest scenes in all the Carry On canon" - the performances, the interactions between Hattie and Sid. I'll have to have a rewatch to see if I agree.


On that basis, love to know their thoughts of Carry On Emmanuelle.

Shaky

I know it's widely considered the nadir of the series but I've always maintained Carry On Columbus is quite good fun. Not a "good" film per se, but far better than the likes of Emmanuelle and England. There are a *couple* of decent ideas and a jauntiness to proceedings, at least.

lauraxsynthesis

Just to report I've now got Carry On brainrot. Today I was in the room where Benjamin Britten composed between 1958 and 1969 and I found myself wondering if he ever saw a Carry On film. I ended up finding this dissertation which finds a continuum to Eric Rogers' compositions for the films back from Britten's work in Night Mail.

There is more conference reporting to come as well. I've been sent my favourite presentation from the day which I'm going to write up.

dissolute ocelot

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on June 08, 2024, 08:16:00 PMJust to report I've now got Carry On brainrot. Today I was in the room where Benjamin Britten composed between 1958 and 1969 and I found myself wondering if he ever saw a Carry On film. I ended up finding this dissertation which finds a continuum to Eric Rogers' compositions for the films back from Britten's work in Night Mail.

The physical resemblance between Britten and Sid James is often remarked upon, and both were born in 1913 and died in 1976. Sadly no evidence that they ever met. Britten's letters are published in 6 volumes up till his death - I'm sure if you could track down a copy of volumes 5 and 6, the index would be compendious.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: dissolute ocelot on June 14, 2024, 11:13:51 AMThe physical resemblance between Britten and Sid James is often remarked upon, and both were born in 1913 and died in 1976. Sadly no evidence that they ever met. Britten's letters are published in 6 volumes up till his death - I'm sure if you could track down a copy of volumes 5 and 6, the index would be compendious.


Good shout! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

Harry Badger

@lauraxsynthesis I've read with interest your coverage of this conference but I'm not sure I could I could stick it for more than half an hour.

I once persuaded my mum to take me and my little brother to a screening at the NFT of Carry On Cowboy in about 1994.

lauraxsynthesis

My favourite presentation from the day was from James Martin Charlton of Middlesex University: Talbot Rothwell's Vision of History Carrying On.

Rothwell's Carry On oeuvre emerges as a developed and consistent vision of humanity in history.

I'd say some of the connections Charlton made were tenuous, but I enjoyed them anyway, eg this from William Blake in 1809 on recurring archetypes in English fiction:

"The characters of Chaucer's Pilgrims are
the characters which compose all ages
and nations. As one age falls, another
rises, different to mortal sight, but to
immortals only the same; for we see the
same characters repeated again and
again..."


Charlton told us that early Carry Ons tended to foreground inadequate people proving themselves within social situations and institutions. We saw this in Norman Hudis's scripts as well as a couple of Rothwell's early scripts (Cabby, Spying).

Rothwell took over from Hudis as the writer in 1963, and his second screenplay was the first of many period Carry On films - Carry On Jack. It's two films later in Cleo that we get Sid James as the randy male character that now seems so fundamental to the whole series.

From Cowboy onwards, Rothwell's Carry Ons return again and again to the struggles of libidinous men to resist the civilising influences of their age.

Often his characters are in conflict with Williams' characters:

The Sid James and Kenneth Williams duo of contrasting types is the most striking example – James mostly plays libidinous, priapic men for whom liberation and sexual freedom are paramount; Williams often represents a more sexually repressive (and repressed) Puritanical attitude (albeit tinged with hypocrisy).
 
This was the presentation that used the concepts of "rectilinear" and "curvilinear" British characters, created in 1969 by married playwrights John Arden and Margaretta D'Arcy.

Rectilinear characters are progressive, wanting efficiency and morality. Think Dr Tinkle or Citizen Camembert. The curvilinear types are asymmetrical, and encountering them is akin, for the Ardens, to "running... against a red-nosed man with a hump on his back dancing in a puddle, his arms around a pair of bright-eyed laughing girls, his mouth full of inexplicable noises" (p. 6). Sid James's characters may not have the hump (except when they are sexually thwarted), but this could well be Henry VIII (Carry On Henry, 1971), Sir Sidney Effing (Don't Lose Your Head, 1967), or local councillor Sidney Fiddler (Carry On Girls, 1973).

We got some post-colonial analysis in this presentation as well. In Follow that Camel and Up the Khyber , colonization itself acts as a sexual repressor. In the latter, the British upper classes have to withdraw their sexual energy from their adulterous urges to save the Empire.

Rothwell's last Carry On film script was Dick in 1974. Charlton reckons after the extensive innuendo of this one, Rothwell could have no more to say.



This presentation also introduced me to one of the unmade films, Carry On Escaping. The bromide of imprisonment and the stakes of the war prove too strong for Carry On antics. I suppose it would have been the most personal screenplay for Rothwell, who was a POW with Peter Butterworth in Stalag Luft III. Butterworth was involved in planning escapes and also performed in Rothwell-written concert parties that helped provide cover for an escape tunnel. Hey, that's a familiar story!

I love this fanmade poster.


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