Carry on Spying
Saturday March, 7 2015 at 10:30 AM
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The ninth in the series of 31 Carry On films, Carry On Spying (1964) was the last to be filmed in black-and-white and the first to co-star Barbara Windsor, who would become a series staple. These films are campy, satirical British comedies that were ground out quickly and cheaply. They rarely satisfied critics, but they continuously pleased audiences, and that, combined with the tight budgetary reins of producer Peter Rogers, is why the series lasted for more than three decades.
This entry is especially bound to entertain fans of classic cinema because of all the tongue-in-cheek references to film noir, train thrillers, Hitchcock movies and James Bond. In fact, this was probably the first Bond spoof, as only two actual Bond films had yet been released. Instead of Dr. No and SPECTRE, here we have a character named Dr. Crowe, who works for an organization known as STENCH (Society for Total Extinction of Non-Conforming Humans). Barbara Windsor plays a character called Daphne Honeybutt, and a sequence on the Orient Express refers directly to From Russia with Love (1963).
After Bond producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman threatened legal action over a plan to name a character "James Bind," producer Rogers changed the name to "Charlie Bind, Double-Oh Oh." He was played by series regular Charlie Hawtrey.
Another classic film receiving a major spoof treatment is The Third Man (1949). A sequence in Vienna plays on that Vienna-set noir, and actor Jim Dale, a long-running veteran of the Carry On series, at one point dons a disguise meant to resemble The Third Man's bearded balloon vendor. Dale's character, in fact, is required to disguise himself numerous times. "The difficulty," Dale later said, "was in projecting my main character through the disguises. On at least two occasions I am, facially, totally unrecognizable, but to keep to the storyline it was important that the audience wouldn't think an entirely new character had been introduced into the plot -- I only hope that I succeeded."
Like most of the Carry On pictures, Carry On Spying was shot very hurriedly. Cinematographer Alan Hume later recalled, "The preparation was about two days, during which time you had to get all the equipment ready and pre-light the first set. We then had six weeks, which included the end-of-picture party."
By Jeremy Arnold
Robert Ross, The Carry On Companion
Richard Webber, 50 Years of Carry On
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