Newest Review: ... danger they are all in, dancing around great gaping holes in the floor. Utilising excellent set pieces and maintaining a consistently fun... more
"Carry On Abroad" (1972)
Carry On Abroad (DVD)
Member Name: jbsabbath
Carry On Abroad (DVD)
Advantages: Classic formula, brilliant Peter Butterworth and Charles Hawtrey
Disadvantages: Charles Hawtrey's last
For the twenty-fourth anarchic Carry On adventure, director Gerald Thomas and producer Peter Rogers took the regulars on a sunny holiday to Spain on the backlot of Pinewood Studios.
"Oh have a heart darling, you know I need this holiday. You wouldn't want me to go without it just because she's going to be there."
"If she's going to be there, you won't be going without it!"
Pub landlord Vic Flange (Sid James) has booked a long-weekend holiday in a sunny resort in an effort to get away from his wife Cora (Joan Sims), trying to take busty Sadie Tomkins (Barbara Windsor) with him instead.
But when clumsy local Harry (Jack Douglas) gives the game away, Cora demands that she goes on this holiday too, scuppering Vic's dirty weekend plans.
Little do they know, they are going to the crummiest hotel in Spain: Elsbels, still only half-way completed and run by manager Pepe (Peter Butterworth) who's always taking on several jobs at once, his lazy son Georgio (Ray Brooks) and bad tempered cook Floella (Hattie Jacques).
Managing the tour to the best of his ability is Stuart Farquhar (Kenneth Williams) with the gorgeous Moira Plunkett (Gail Grainger) at his side, leading an assorted bunch of holiday makers including snobbish Evelyn Blunt (June Whitfield) and doting husband Stanley (Kenneth Connor), only-after-one-thing Bert Conway (Jimmy Logan), girls in search of love Lily (Sally Gleeson) and Marge (Carol Hawkins), constant drunk Eustace Tuttle (Charles Hawtrey), and a troop of monks led by Brother Martin (Derek Francis) and randy Brother Bernard (Bernard Bresslaw).
In between running from the rain, coping with a tumbling down hotel and getting thrown in prison, the crew still find plenty to enjoy in Spain when they start slipping aphrodisiac potions into the champagne punch!
"Please, Miss Plunkett, you're squashing my itinerary!"
"Carry On Abroad" is one of the best later Carry Ons before everything started to go a little downhill, utilising the classic Carry On set up that has worked so well before - take an assorted bunch of characters and put them in an out-of-their-element situation and see what happens.
The set-up of the half-built Elsbels hotel is fantastic and making for a truly memorable movie, helped no end by the frantic bumbling comedy of Peter Butterworth as the manager / porter / receptionist / waiter / telephone operator Pepe.
Trying desperately to run a poorly designed hotel that is only half-cooked, he dons his excellent array of facial expressions as he does his best to keep in control of the situation - his performance is perfectly manic and his Spanish accent is suitably all over the place.
Making sure that the group are all happy on their holiday is tour manager Stuart Farquhar, played by the fantastic Kenneth Williams, who for much of the film is resigned to asking how everything is going before getting a bunch of dirty looks.
Hilarity-wise however, his best moment comes when the crew get into a battle with the local brothel-owner, only for Williams' trousers to fall down as he desperately waddles back to the tour bus, before being manhandled away by two policemen.
As for the holiday-makers themselves, the key players come in the form of troubled husband-and-wife Sid James and Joan Sims.
Sid returns to the guise of dirty old man chasing after Barbara Windsor once again, after playing it straight in "...Matron", and Sims takes on the tried and tested role of hard-done-by wife.
Their characters aren't great departures from what we're used to, but then that's not how we'd want it to be - if the Carry On formula has told us anything, we enjoy familiarity and the best giggles can be found from same-old-Sid chasing after a bit of skirt.
Meanwhile there's Kenneth Connor who does what he does best, his frustrated husband guffawing and ever-randy, shaking his leg like a dog and whinnying like a horse when about to jump into bed.
Whatever this did for my childhood, it couldn't have been good.
As Connor's domineering wife "I tried it once but didn't like it" Evelyn Blunt is June Whitfield.
Whitfield's Carry On career spans the whole length of the series, appearing first as Leslie Phillip's girlfriend in "...Nurse", as Evelyn Blunt in "...Abroad" and finally as a formidable Woman's Lib organiser in "...Girls".
Famed for her TV roles in "Terry and June", "Absolutely Fabulous" and more recently "Last of the Summer Wine", she is perfect as the prudish wife who likes to complain about everything.
Carrying On no more, however, would be the series' icon Charles Hawtrey in his twenty-third and final effort, playing mother's boy Eustace Tuttle who likes to get drunk quite a lot away from home.
This would be Hawtrey's last ever film role full-stop, ending a fifty-year career before retiring, and if the stories are true he was pushed away from the series by the co-creators due to his growing need for alcohol on set.
In fact, his character here pretty much lampoons his behind-the-scenes antics, boozing at every opportunity and even drinking down a bottle of rubbing alcohol.
This is not to say that his character isn't hilarious, because it is, and he does his best to steal every scene he is in.
Hawtrey long-suffered from arthritis, and by 1988 he was given the option by doctors to have his legs amputated or die - Hawtrey chose the latter, bringing an end to a fantastic performer and a highlight of the Carry On series.
Otherwise, the rest of the characters are fairly run-of-the-mill and unsurprising, all except for the great Hattie Jacques however, who excels as the mean-tempered Floella who controls the kitchen with an iron fist.
Doing her best as a Spanish battleaxe with a score to settle, it is a shame we don't get to see more of her antics, but by the end even she gets to crack a smile.
With the kitchen sprining a leak, the ceilings falling down and the supporting pillars crumbling away, the doomed Elsbels looks more like a final scene from the Titanic more than anything else, as the drunk holiday makers continue their party, completely oblivious to the danger they are all in, dancing around great gaping holes in the floor.
Utilising excellent set pieces and maintaining a consistently funny script, "Carry On Abroad" is one of the best the team have to offer, using a tried and tested formula that works like a charm - fantastic!
[The DVD can be purchased from play.com for £2.99 (at time of writing), including postage and packing]
Summary: Elsbels! The Carry On crew visit Spain and suffer a crumbling hotel