Carry On Laughing: The Prisoner Of Spenda (TV) (Alan Tarrant, 1975) **1/2
The raunchy "Carry On" humor eventually found its way to the small-screen in the form of half-hour TV shows - which, perhaps, served their specialized comedy style better since no padding was necessary to stretch the generally thin plot lines to feature-length and would, therefore, not overstay its welcome. Even so, their decision to adapt the swashbuckling favorite "The Prisoner Of Zenda" as part of this series rather than for the big screen was a mistake, not only because the spectacle (of which there is very little given the limited, and mostly interior, sets) would be lost on TV but the convoluted narrative could never be satisfactorily fitted into a mere 25 minutes (which allows for only the bare outline of Anthony Hope's classic adventure to be utilized) - but, then, one must remember that literature's definitive tale of impersonation had already been parodied by Blake Edwards in THE GREAT RACE (1965)! Still, it's a pleasant enough trifle that clearly benefits from the presence of some of the "Carry On" notables - namely Sid James, Barbara Windsor, Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth.
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