Carry on Henry (1971)
A Royal Carry on in the House of Windsor
Fear not maam I can withstand any amount of screwing - Sir Rodger
After another failed marriage and a quick execution, randy monarch King Henry VIII (Sid James - Carry on Dick) has already got his next wife Marie of Normandy (Joan Sims) waiting for him at the altar. But despite getting married and eager to consummate their marriage Henry has a problem and that is Marie's love of eating garlic is stopping him from getting anywhere close to her let alone getting his leg over like he wants to. Desperate he enlists the help of Cardinal Wolsey (Terry Scott) and Lord Chancellor Thomas Cromwell (Kenneth Williams) to find away of ending the marriage without sparking a war with Marie's cousin the King of France. At the same time he finds himself lusting after the youthful and busty Bettina (Barbara Windsor).
It would be fair to say that there were good "Carry on" movies and bad "Carry on" movies, very few were in between. The good were clever, full of double entendres and amusing characters where as the bad basically went too far and relied on smut. "Carry on Henry" starring Sid James as the randy King is one of the good ones, in fact it is one of the best "Carry on" movies with it's amusing tale surrounding randy Henry VIII and a wife he can't get rid off. It helps that all those favourites are in there Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Joan Simms and the comedy whilst most definitely packed full of innuendo never becomes pure smut as was the case with later "Carry on" movies.
What helps "Carry on Henry" become so enjoyable is that once more it takes a historical character and has fun with their notoriety. So taking the much married Henry VIII and creating a storyline where having an heir to the throne is less important than satisfying his raging libido makes for plenty of fun. So does making his latest wife a match for his evil power and a woman with an equally large libido. Of course it's all a made up story, a load of cobblers as we are informed from the start but if only history had in fact been so much fun.
Adding to this is that "Carry on Henry" features some of the series best writing. There is never a scene which doesn't contain at least one amusing line often revolving around a double meaning but it is wonderfully done, never falling to the level of crassness which ruined the later "Carry on" movies. Even a scene which sees Barbara Windsor getting undressed is in fact brilliantly done so yes it is titillating but not completely crude. It's this deft touch of making sure the dialogue amuses without being smutty which makes "Carry on Henry" one of the better "Carry on" movies.
And the final thing which makes "Carry on Henry" one of the better movies in the series is that the casting is spot on especially with Sid James playing the randy King Henry VIII. Every single scene of desperation as Henry wants to get his leg over is delivered with perfect comical frustration from Sid James providing many of the movies best laughs. But James is not alone as Joan Simms is just as good as his garlic eating wife with an equally randy nature. The pairing works well but then every single one of the "Carry on" regulars such as Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor, Charles Hawtrey and Terry Scott all deliver wonderfully comical performances.
What this all boils down to is that "Carry on Henry" is one of the better "Carry on" movies and despite being 40 years old is still a pleasure to watch. The combination of the storyline and the clever writing full of sexual innuendo makes for a thoroughly entertaining movie especially with Sid James delivering scene after amusing scene as the sex starved Henry VIII.
Tags: Carry On Movies
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