WFTB Score: 4/20
The plot: A couple of randy husbands, a team on an archeological dig, some female friends, a married couple and their uncontrollable dog, an older couple and the mother-in-law, all go away on a caravanning holiday. Normal enough, you’d think; but this being the Carry Ons, mishaps and misunderstandings aplenty are bound to occur.
You may think you’ve seen this before, in the shape of Carry On Camping: but you’d be wrong. For this time most of the holidaymakers are towing caravans, hence (naturally) the ‘behind’ of the title. And you may not think that the description above details much of a plot: and you’d be right. For this late entry in the Carry On series is as bereft of a story as it is of decent jokes.
The film’s problems do partly stem from the fact that similar ground had already been covered (even the location is identical to Camping); partly from the fact that 70s Britain looks so cold and grey; but mostly from the fact that of the big names only Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims are present, and they look cold and grey too. Williams is Professor Crump, the archaeologist sent to investigate a series of Roman murals found on the caravan site run by crusty lecher Major Leep (Kenneth Connor), with statuesque Russian Anna Vooshka (Elke Sommer) on hand to ruin jokes that weren’t very good in the first place (watch Williams work his socks off to wring life from a gag where she pronounces ‘cramped’ a bit like ‘crumpet’); when they are thrown together in a small caravan, he has to ward off her double entendres and gets taken to hospital when he mistakes tomato sauce for blood following a gas explosion.
It’s sad that this relationship, with Sommer’s accent causing confusion of rude words for harmless ones, is pretty much the highlight of the film. Bernard Bresslaw and Patsy Rowlands make a pretty dull husband and wife, looking after an offensive mynah bird and the underused Sims, who discovers her estranged husband Peter Butterworth labouring on the campsite (but also stinking rich, in one of the film’s other bright moments). The other main plotline follows lascivious husbands Fred and Ernest, Jack Douglas and Windsor Davies taking the roles that Bresslaw and Sid James already did to death in Camping. Davies, as moustachioed, braggadocio Welshman Fred, hardly stretches himself, whilst Jack Douglas is utterly gormless as mopey angler Ernie; it is bizarre that either should be married, let alone consider themselves objects of desire to Carol Hawkins and Sherrie Hewson.
All the above-named are masters of comedy, however, when compared to the colourless additions to the cast. Ian Lavender and Adrienne Posta are terrible as the couple with the wandering Irish wolfhound, Larry Dann no better as a student, and George Layton is tiresome as a doctor. But really the fault lies at the door of scriptwriter Dave Freeman, who gives very few of the actors any decent lines, and lets the film meander through scenes in the shower block and a new Clubhouse (the paint on the chairs is still wet – everyone loses the seat of their pants!) until it finally peters out to a weak and illogical end: a load of holes appear in the ground, caravans fall into them, people get wet, and they all drive away except for Ken and Elke, who shows her knickers.
Carry On Behind is a poor film (technically, the editing is really shoddy), but thankfully the series was not far away from being put to bed, and there is little here that could be thought of as really offensive. But it’s a long way from the days where the Carry Ons could lay claim to parody, a structured, progressive plot, or crafted jokes instead of laboured innuendo and telegraphed pratfalls.