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Don't Lose Your Head (1967)

The time of the French revolution, and Citizen Robespierre is beheading the French aristocracy. When word gets to England, two noblemen, Sir Rodney Ffing and Lord Darcy take it upon ... See full summary »


Gerald Thomas


Talbot Rothwell (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Sidney James ... Sir Rodney Ffing / The Black Fingernail
Kenneth Williams ... Citizen Camembert
Jim Dale ... Lord Darcy Pue
Charles Hawtrey ... Duc de Pommfrit
Peter Butterworth ... Citizen Bidet
Joan Sims ... Désirée Dubarry
Dany Robin ... Jacqueline
Peter Gilmore ... Citizen Robespierre
Marianne Stone ... Landlady
Michael Ward Michael Ward ... Henri
Leon Greene ... Malabonce
David Davenport David Davenport ... Sergeant
Richard Shaw Richard Shaw ... Captain of Soldiers
Valerie Van Ost ... Second Lady / Girl at Execution
Jennifer Clulow Jennifer Clulow ... First Lady


The time of the French revolution, and Citizen Robespierre is beheading the French aristocracy. When word gets to England, two noblemen, Sir Rodney Ffing and Lord Darcy take it upon themselves to aid there French counterparts. Sir Rodney is a master of disguise, and becomes "the black fingernail", scourge of Camembert and Bidet, leaders of the French secret police... Written by Simon N. McIntosh-Smith <Simon.N.Smith@cs.cf.ac.uk>

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Carry On laughing until you have hysterics, but...Don't Lose Your Head!


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Did You Know?


Diana MacNamara was Charles Hawtrey's stunt double in the film. and also played the role of Princess Stephanie.woman at guillotine/double of a soldier on horse/and double for Charles Hawtrey on horse. See more »


The modern road leading to the Chateau. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: Paris, 1789. The Great Revolution has begun. The hands of the masses are smeared with the blood of the poor bleeding aristocracy. Every day the tumbrels run a regular half-hour service between the Bastille and the many guillotines around the city. The growing mounds of noble heads are only matched by the growing mounds of unused return tickets. No-one is spared. Madame La Guillotine claims them all. Dukes and Duchesses, Lords and Ladies, men and women of both sexes. A dozen times ...
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Alternate Versions

A version of this film shown on BBC television had alternate music/SFX cues compared to the Region 2 DVD release. Notably on the BBC version a 'dramatic' music cue when Camembert accidentally stabs one of his own men with a spear in the finale, but the music cue is missing from the DVD version. At the very end when both Camembert & Bidet are beheaded at the guillotine by Sir Rodney-the blade drops and the sound of the audience cheers along with a brief music cue, but on the DVD version Sid James's famous laugh is heard instead without any music. See more »


Follows Carry on, Constable (1960) See more »


She Loves You
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Parodied by Jacqueline (Dany Robin) and the guards
See more »

User Reviews

Carry on chopping!!
7 January 2005 | by LibretioSee all my reviews


Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Sound format: Mono

During the French Revolution, the villainous Citizen Camembert (a perpetually outraged Kenneth Williams) goes in search of the notorious 'Black Fingernail' (Sid James), an unidentified British aristocrat who's been crossing the English Channel to rescue his French counterparts from the guillotine.

The second and final entry in the long-running series not to feature 'Carry On' in its title due to political fall-out from a change of UK distributor (the first was FOLLOW THAT CAMEL, released earlier the same year), DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD demonstrates yet again that screenwriter Talbot Rothwell was at his best when indulging his fondness for historical burlesque. Sumptuously mounted on various high-blown locations (including Clandon Park and Waddesdon Manor, with interiors filmed at Pinewood Studios), the film's ribald parody of the French Revolution encompasses everything from silly character names (Camembert is the local 'big cheese', aided and abetted by the gormless Citizen Bidet, while the Black Fingernail conceals his true identity under the foppish pseudonym of Sir Rodney Ffing - "with two F's!") to puns, sight gags and lowbrow slapstick. In other words, the formula as before.

But like so many of the better "Carry On"s, the comedy is rooted in a well-developed storyline, augmented by the usual array of flamboyant characters and eccentric supporting players. Highlights include Charles Hawtrey as a jolly French aristocrat, and Joan Sims as Williams' Cockney-spouting sister (Sims and Hawtrey share an unlikely seduction sequence midway through the film which culminates in a terrific 'please yourself' gag). Sid James and Jim Dale are the nominal heroes of the piece, camping it up with affectionate glee, while Peter Butterworth excels as Williams' dimwitted lackey, forever lusting after Sims and shouting: "Equality! Fraternity! Liberty!" (to which Sims retorts: "I don't care about the equalities and the fraternities, but I'm NOT having the liberties!"). But as usual, Kenneth Williams walks away with the picture, overplaying every gesture, emphasizing every double entendre, and milking every gag for all its considerable worth. An absolute comic gem! Director Gerald Thomas keeps the pot boiling throughout, and production values are solid. Watch out for a couple of mistakes which made it into the final print (Williams' hat being knocked by Butterworth in a cramped carriage, and Sims almost falling over whilst admiring a lovely new dress), betraying a rushed production schedule.

Favorite gag: Hawtrey brags to a group of young women that he escaped the guillotine by slaying half a dozen of his captors, and one gushing admirer declares: "What a bloody sight it must have been." Hawtrey, quick as a flash, retorts: "M'dear, if me sword hadn't broken, it'd have been a bloody sight more!" Genius.

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Release Date:

14 December 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Carry On Pimpernel See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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