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|Index||12 reviews in total|
The "Carry On" movies were probably better distributed in Canada than the
States, because we'd been weaned on British humour by the CBC, but they
strictly B-market, playing small town theatres and drive-in double bills.
Still, aside from Sidney James with his TV shows, it's doubtful that the
majority of those appreciative rural audiences could attach names to the
faces on the screen, and while we drooled with the rest of this continent
over the doings of the Beatles and Mick and Marianne and even Peter and
Britt, the lives of the "Carry On" crew were an unknown
"Cor Blimey!" is something I tuned into out of idle curiosity and found myself rivetted. While I don't doubt it has its share of inaccuracies (some even I spotted, like misplaced productions in the time frame), the warts-and-all depictions of these troubled comedians has an authenticity I don't for a moment doubt. The friendship (yes, friendship) between James and Williams is particularly provocative, as they verbally spar on a constant basis and, deep down, enjoy every second of it, and each other. A telling moment is when Kenneth learns of Sid's death, and his smart alecky composure instantly falls away to a look of stunned grief. Adam Godfrey is nothing short of amazing as the caustic Williams (that moment where he tells the little autograph hunter to bugger off is horribly hilarious), a beautifully realized portrait of a brilliant and frustrated soul driven to extremes of exhibitionism. I remember reading the Joe Orton biography years ago, and being mystified that a "Carry On" comic was so thick with the doomed literary couple, like trying to evision Soupy Sales hanging out with Paul and Jane Bowles. Clearly Williams was exactly their type, and it's a pity that the rather tepid "Prick Up Your Ears" didn't incorporate him as a character.
While the story's focal point, Sid James' loosing battle with the bottle and his crazed romantic obsession with Barbara, who only has deep loyal friendship to offer, is rich and poignant, I could've done with more details about the rest of the "Carry On" crew. We only get the most fleeting glimpses of the (excellently cast) Charles Hawtrey and Joan Sims and Bernard Bresslaw. Also there's some conspicuous absenses, such as the divine Hattie Jacques (Dawn French would've been ideal). One moment that brings to mind another reviewer's comment on the amusing blend of film artifice and reality, is when Sid has his first stroke and he's in the hospital with the Jacques-like floor matron (Claire Cathcart). I was thinking for sure that this was a recreation of the "Carry On Doctor" set, until Barbara shows up to visit.
Anyway, I'll leave disputes over the film's tastefulness and historical accuracy to people of the Isles who better knew these stars, but for someone from this side of the pond for whom the "Carry On" films is a delightful 60s/70s footnote, this finely done TV film is an intelligent and illuminating watch.
The British public's love affair with the 'Carry On' movies continues with
this triumphant re-telling of actress Barbara Windsor's ill-fated romance
with her comedy co-star Sidney James.
The film covers the period 1964-1978 and is based on Terry Johnson's hugely successful 1998 stage-play "Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick", now nicely opened up for the big screen. Utilising many of the play's original actors, including Samantha Spiro, Geoff Hutchings and Adam Godley, 'Cor Blimey!' is a real treat for any self-respecting 'Carry On' fan. In particular, Spiro excels as the younger Babs Windsor. She is uncannily accurate in looks, mannerisms and voice, so much so that when the real Windsor appears as herself in the final scene, the join between the two actresses is hardly noticeable.
Hutchings and Godley are also perfectly cast as Sid James and Kenneth Williams respectively, but viewers expecting just laughs will be a little disappointed. Aside from the leads, Williams is portrayed as a lonely unfulfilled hypochondriac and Charles Hawtrey (played by Hugh Walters) as an alcoholic mother's boy.
Always moving and sensitively acted, 'Cor Blimey!' is a touching but extremely engaging and enjoyable film. Many fans will be left with tears in their eyes by the end. Several factual inaccuracies aside, this is top notch entertainment, no messing about! Highly recommended.
The opening half of this film dramatising the affair between two of
Britain's best and best-loved comedians, Sid James and Barbara Windsor, is a
wonderful marriage of form and content, and a lesson to anyone who dares to
make period dramas. From the cheeky title and CARRY ON-style credits, we
know we're in for a treat that will not betray its subjects with deadly
This half is filmed like a CARRY ON, with the central romance between Sid and Babs diffused by innuendo-laden bits of business featuring Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey et al. There is one stunning shot at the beginning where the vast Roman ampitheatre through which a soldier walks is revealed to be a tiny model, pointing to the themes of reality and appearance that will be the film's theme, as well as the economic reality of these films' production.
Sid's life in this half is played like a CARRY ON farce, full of repetition, coitus interruptus, double entendres, comedy gangsters and buxom ladies locked in bathrooms. The general verdict on CARRY ONs is that they are an assembly line churning out shoddy products of ever decreasing quality, concerned only with adolescent titillation (this is not my view - HENRY and CLEO at least are great films, while KHYBER is the greatest of all British satires, and the equal of Bunuel); so treating the lives of these people who must subsume their own personalities in their screen personae (even the sex scene is mediated through cinematic apparatus), locked in an evermore limiting labyrinth of personal need and public status is true at least to public perception (behind which, presumably, the filmmakers wish to delve).
The lines and jokes are fruity and excellent, the sets deliciously gaudy, the re-enactments priceless, the chronology a little wobbly, the acting a triumph (Samantha Spiro as Babs is so winning and moving she makes me totally reevaluate a figure I'd previously considered fairly margainal), but, best of all, it shows that farce, and especially CARRY ONs, have an emotional basis denied by its detractors.
The screenwriter doesn't quite believe it either though, and this fertile approach is soon abandoned as the film gets more serious, tragic, and it seeks an appropriate mode to express this, fixing on a fatal melange of social realism and middle-class Rattiganisms (so as not to alienate the film's prime-time audience). The subversion of genre that was the first half (and subverting genre and its conservative functions was what CARRY ONs were all about) becomes a conventional biopic, robbing the subjects of their breezy singularity.
Yes it's all very sad and desparing and tragic, yes the recreation of a shabby 70s Britain at the fag-end of both the entertainment industry and British society itself is expertly realised, but so is Merchant Ivory. There are lines of dialogue, which, without irony, could have come straight from an Alan Bennett parody. The despair of Williams is frequently alluded to, but to anyone unfamiliar with his story somewhat obscured.
The hilarious parody of Burton and Taylor that characterises Sid and Babs' early relationship becomes sadly literal as we go on. You certainly wouldn't know why these cheaply-made music hall quickies remain astonishingly popular and vibrant today, while their more respectable peers lie in cobwebbed vaults. After such a fun start, then, a bit of a shame.
We know that many of the actors in the long running Carry On series had personal problems - perhaps this is why they were so funny and we laughed with them not at them. This film could have only been made by people with a deep affection for the Carry On films and the actors involved. Don't expect an air brushing of history to pretend all the Carry On actors were perfect. Also this is only an interpretation of the events and characters and does not purport to be autobiographical. It is both very funny and also very sad - the two masks of comedy and tragedy. The impersonations are extremely good. The fact that Barbara Windsor was willing to take part must at least indicate approval from one Carry On cast member.
Having just watched the film I have to agree in parts with the bottom
two contributors in that the inaccuracies in the film are a let down. I
sat there and laughed when they used Bresslaw in place of Scott for the
That said, what a superb film. Don't be fooled, as one of the other contributors said for Barbara Windsor to put herself in the film gives it an air of accuracy.
It is a homage to those characters it portrays. Too often a film biopic will show someone completely different to the truth. This film gave it warts and all. Superbly acted by the front three and a game of spot the carry on stars throughout. I'd echo a shame that it couldn't show some of the other principle characters in depth but I suppose when you've got ninety minutes you go with what you can.
Very amusing to see the Goldfinger characters, in particular as Shirley Eaton had been a carry on actress.
You could only feel despair for Williams, a tortured soul hiding behind a screen of caustic veneer. Sid James character starts as a dirty old man who it soon shows as someone of very little repertoire other than the same parlour trick to seduce. The caravan incident is straight out of Carry On although I think the connotations of Ronnie Knights hard-man are far too camp and weak.
Overall though, massively enjoyable. Those who found this disturbing should take off those rose tinted glasses.
Covering the Carry On films of the 1960's with Cleo, Camping, Girls and
Girls, Cor Blimey follows the affair between Sid James and Barbara
Windsor. Taking years before anything happens, Windsor generally avoids
the pitfall that is James' infamous libido but tongues are wagging on
top of all the usual bickering and cat-fighting behind the scenes in
the Carry On team.
BBC2 did a recent night on the Carry On films that featured a few films and a few documentaries, among them this film that manages to be a bit of both. Based on Terry Johnson's play, the film presents a story similar to the "behind the scenes" dramas that BBC2 have done recently focusing on Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd and Steptoe & Son but also delivered in the cheeky style of the Carry On films themselves. Watching it I thought that this approach would prevent the film getting to the heart of the characters and that it would be too jokey to produce real pathos. It may not totally get there but it does work surprisingly well as it manages to mix the styles reasonably well, even if the first half has the majority of the comedy and the second half more of the drama. Both work well though and I found the film to be both entertaining and engaging. Directing his own script, Johnson produces the look and feel of the period and the films and is responsible for getting the mix right.
The cast respond well to this with performances that are much more than just impressions. Most of them only bear a passing resemblance to the real people but they all do well with the voices, however the real success is in how good their performances are. After a short while you forget the differences and soon you are sold on the actors as the real thing. Spiro's Windsor is good bringing out the frustrated pull out of the bubbling exterior. She works well with Hutchings, who also slowly turns his lecherous character into something more human, pained and engaging. The support cast are just that but yet has generally strong turns. Godley's Williams is of particular note but Walters, Cotterill, Speirs and Howard all do their characters justice.
I watched Cor, Blimey with no great expectations but it turned out to be a great little film that all Carry On fans will enjoy. It successfully brings the pathos and emotion out of a funnier first half without it being jarring or seeming unnatural but indeed matches the feel of the films and the period to good effect. Carry On lovers should watch it but it is also good enough to win over the casual viewer with only a passing interest.
I really enjoyed this film, and whether it is truth or fiction, it's a
good watch as the cast selection is brilliant. It does portray some of
the darker aspects of both James' and Williams' persona's but who's to
say they weren't like that. The previous comment states that Sid was a
loving husband, the film never says he wasn't, in fact the film states
on more than one occasion that he does love his wife, but that doesn't
mean he was faithful.
I love 'Carry On' films and have done since I was little and since Sid James died when I was 2, I don't remember any media about him or Barbara Windsor or Kenneth Williams. I don't know if this is truth or dirt-digging but that's no reason to write it off, and it's a good watch especially for the actors playing the roles so well.
Almost every bit as saucy, bawdy and occasionally seedy as the "Carry
On" movies themselves, this warts and all encapsulation of the doomed
relationship between older man Sid James and bright young thing Barbara
Windsor provided captivating entertainment. Commencing brightly and
convincingly with some cute camera perspective tricks, perhaps
demonstrating the illusory and ultimately false world of entertainment
and entertainers, the story contains just about the right mix of drama,
pathos and humour throughout, helped by convincing portrayals of almost
all the leading players, themselves so familiar to a generation of us
who can still hardly turn on the TV here without one of the series
beaming out at you (my personal favourite? - "Carry on Cowboy"!).
Although concentrating naturally on the James/Windsor axis, (to the exclusion of both protagonists' spouses), the third side of their love triangle turns out surprisingly to be the acerbic, extrovert but ultimately self-loathing Kenneth Williams, acting as a lightning-rod to James' adulterous excesses (which seemed to extend to bedding every available young female on set) and comforting-board to Windsor as she agonises whether to give in firstly to his physical desire and then later emotional need for her. It's impossible of course to know the full extent of the emotional complexities of this troubled group of actors, besides the accurate extensions of their obvious on-screen personas, but given that Ms Windsor was on board here as a consultant and contributed a cameo piece as herself, I'm prepared to accept what I saw as true-to-life.
One or two James fans might demur at his portrayal as a serial philanderer but I still found his lovable rogue depiction sympathetic. The acting is universally excellent, all the leads capturing the trademark vocal and physical characteristics of their precedents (as indeed is the case with minor characters too) and it was fun to see accurate on-set recreations of famous "Carry On" scenes, including Windor's famous bikini-bursting scene from "Carry on Camping". The dialogue throughout was natural and seemed to me wholly in character, with many witty aphorisms especially, as you'd expect, from the Kenneth Williams character.
All in all, a convincing insight into the lives and far from starry lifestyles of UK national acting treasures and a worthy celebration of a long-standing British cinematic institution.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the sequence near the end of the film before Sid James is about to go on stage in the play The Mating Season his dresser says she 's been offered a job on the new bond film You Only Live Twice. This is wrong because this is in 1976 and you only live twice was made in 1966 or 1967, probably the film The spy who loved me would of been more likely. Bad research here, when Sid James goes on stage he dies this was a true incident. The dresser before he dies on stage writes a note and leaves presumably to work on the film. This was an interesting film but how true it was in general is open to question. The dresser is introduced at the start of the film when Sid James is filming Carry on Cleo. The main plot of the film is Sid James affair with Barbara Windsor.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have seen a few documentaries about the Carry On films, and the affair between the adorable bubbly blonde and lovable dirty laughing git is often mentioned, and this drama is a pretty good depiction. It is 1964 at Pinewood Studios, Sidney "Sid" James (Goodnight Mister Tom's Geoffrey Hutchings) is making a successful film series, the Carry On films, along with actors Kenneth Williams (Charlie and the Chcoloate Factory's Adam Godley), Bernard Bresslaw (Steve Speirs), Joan Sims (Chrissie Cotterill), Charles Hawtrey (Hugh Walters) and Kenneth Connor (Derek Howard), and director Gerald Thomas (David McAllister). After completing Carry On Spying (which James was not in), Sid meets newcomer Barbara Windsor (Samantha Spiro), and he is instantly attracted to her. Over the years Sid pretty much pursues her, and she is constantly refusing to have any kind of affair with him. Eventually though "Babs" gives in to her feelings for him and allows him one night of passion, although it was probably more than that. The last film they made in each other's company was Carry On Dick, and just before the making of Carry On Emmannuelle (which Babs refused to be in, considered it distasteful), Sid James tragically died on stage. The final sequence where Kenny Williams and Babs (played by herself!) go into Sid's old trailer is quite heartfelt. Also starring Maria Charles as Mrs. Hawtrey, Jacqueline Defferary as Sally and Kenneth MacDonald as Eddie. Spiro is really convincing as Babs, Hutching's does alright as James, and the show is almost stolen by the almost spot-on impression of Williams by Godley. A good drama not just to see a depiction of this real story, but to get an idea of behind-the-scenes on the Carry On films. Good!
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