They are known for their saucy double entendres and raunchy antics, but sometimes the retro British movie franchise, which will be getting a reboot next year, went too far.
Sid James, 56, woos a school girl in ‘Carry On Camping’
The 17th movie in the franchise, released in 1969, is one of the most iconic, primarily for the moment in which Barbara Windsor’s bikini flies off while she exercises.
James was 56 by the time the film was made, but that didn’t stop his character falling for the luscious Babs.
Which is fine, apart from the fact that Babs is at Chayste Place Finishing School and is thus, we guess, supposed to be in her late teens. Which makes the flirting and implied nudity seem a bit creepy.
Brown face in ‘Carry On Up The Khyber’
1968’s ‘Khyber’ is a much-loved instalment, even if it was briefly banned from being shown on British TV when the first Gulf War broke out (something to do with not wanting to harp on about British international military presence).
Unfortunately, watching it now, the most memorable thing in the movie is Bernard Bresslaw “browning up” to play Bungdit Din, a native warlord.
Supporters argue that Din’s line when he fires on the English, “that’ll teach them to ban turbans on the buses” – a reference to a genuine ban in Britain at the time – actually shows the movie’s attitude is progressive rather than racist.
Nevertheless, the character feels a bit old-fashioned.
And blackface in ‘Carry On Up The Jungle’
When there’s a film set in the jungle with no main cast members of colour, you know you’re in trouble. Once again it’s poor Bernard Bresslaw who put on the make-up, playing a black man called Upsidaisi.
One could argue that in 1970 when it was released it was an accepted practice in movies, but time has not been kind and rightly so.
The catfight in ‘Carry On Girls’
The scene involves Barbara Windsor, a donkey and a buxom actress called Margaret Nolan and feels not saucy, but exploitative as two girls get into a brawl that ends up with one of them for some reason removing the bikini of the other one.
That’s not helped by Sid James, who when trying to separate the pair appears to fondle one of them.
Offensive Native Americans in ‘Carry On Columbus’
The fact it was a different era is not an excuse that can be used by this 1992 movie, which attempted to resurrect the franchise with catastrophic results.
Chief among those is the moment Chris (Jim Dale) finally gets to America, where he encounters a cigar-chomping Noo Yawk American Indian leader played by the usually brilliant Larry Miller.
It’s deliberately crass of course, but knowing what we know now about the abuse of the indigenous population following Columbus’ arrival, it feels especially wrong.
Union-bashing in ‘Carry On At Your Convenience’
This 1971 entry was one of the worst-performing of the films, primarily because of its attitude to unions, which critics say alienated the series’ usual blue collar audience. Its original title was even ‘Carry On Comrade’.
With a narrative revolving around militant strikers upsetting everyone with their antics at a toilet factory, it’s clear there’s a political point being made. At one point, all the striking men are even chased back to work by their domineering wives.
The Carry On films: harmless fun or best left in the past? Let us know your thoughts below…
Image credits: Rex_Shutterstock, UIP