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Carry On Girls Review

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In the seaside resort of Fircombe (snicker), Sid Fiddler proposes a beauty contest to boost the local economy, bullying the ineffectual Mayor into supporting him even though scheming feminist Augusta Prodworthy is dead set against such sexism.

★★★★★

A late-period, Kenneth Williams-free Carry On, with the smuttiness embarrassingly diluted by reactionary moaning, though the jibes at ‘Women’s Lib’ aren’t quite as embarrassing as the union-bashing of Carry On at Your Convenience.

With Robin Askwith as ‘Larry Prodworthy’ and a lot of girls glimpsed in mild undress, it edges close to the British sex film style that was about to render the Carry Ons anachronistically prim. However, most of it is familiar routines, with hulking Bernard Bresslaw got up in drag, Kenneth Connor repeatedly losing his trousers (though he seems suddenly old and pathetic) and Sid’s lecherous larceny ticking off long-term steady Joan Sims but clicking with biker chick Hope Springs (Barbara Windsor).

The finale is oddly confused: as often, a regimented performance is wrecked for slapstick effect, but here feminist saboteurs ruin the beauty contest with itching powder bikinis and sprinklers. This feels wrong: it’s not that funny and the audience would presumably not sympathise with the gang of prudes, prunes and lesbians wrecking the oglefest Sid is so commited to. It’s funny when pompous dullards or venal fools are humiliated, but the girls of the beauty contest – who get a hard enough time in the film – are never established as deserving of this treatment.

It’s the film that most sets up James and Windsor as a couple, in that she’s the only woman who finds his non-stop leching endearing, but thanks to 1970s hairstyling and fashions, Babs looks more like Whitfield and Sims than the ‘crumpet’ (Valerie Leon, Margaret Nolan, Marianne Stone, Sally Geeson).

A stubborn, stuttering attempt to make Britain sexy.

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