Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Carry on cringing

A while back Quentin Tarantino had a go at the maudlin state of the British film industry and blamed its decline on the fact that all the country’s talent decamps to Hollywood at the first hint of success.

Fair comment, you might think. Trouble is, Tarantino identified the peak from which British film has plummeted as, oh dear, the Carry On movies.

“No-one ever said the Carry On movies were art but they were very funny," he said, no doubt in that inimitable way that everybody always imitates.

As Britons, we’re supposed to pretend that we like the Carry On movies in an ironic, postmodern, tongue-in-cheek way. But really, they are absolute rubbish. All we really like is spending some time with the ensemble cast of National Treasures. Sid James, Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques especially, but above all Kenneth Williams: a man so inherently funny that in theory you could give him the most childish, lame, half-arsed script imaginable and he could still make you laugh. It’s just a pity that the Carry On scriptwriters insisted on subjecting this theory to such rigorous testing.

What you have with the Carry On films is everything that is best about British comic acting, clashing with everything that is worst about British comic writing.

However, the law of monkey-typewriter averages alone states that somewhere in the 29-film series there would be one good scene. Tying in nicely with the Empire and understatement themes below, it appears at the end of Carry On Up the Khyber, and this is it:

4 comments:

Duck said...

So are you now using "maudlin" as a general substitute for the adjectives "sorry", "sad" or "bad?

Also, lest I go astray again by using online references to explain the quirks of English life, can you explain what a "carry-on" film is?

Brit said...

Carry On was a two decade series of sniggering about large bosoms, and people going Ooooh Matron!

martpol said...

You've neglected to mention Charles Hawtrey: an even great talent than Kenneth Williams in my opinion, but with even worse characterisation to contend with.

Do you know they're trying to make a new one?

Brit said...

Hawtrey was good, but not in Williams's league.

Yes, I did stumble across the prospect of 'Carry on London' in my researches, and it is a terrifying prospect indeed. You'd think they'd learn from the disaster of the last comeback.