Kenneth Williams and Angela Douglas in Carry On Up the Khyber (1968)

Khyber Comedy for the Carry On Crew

The year is 1895 and Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond (Sid James - Carry on Doctor) is in charge of the British outpost near the Khyber pass. Guarded by the kilted Third Foot and Mouth regiment, it has remained impenetrable. But the Khasi of Kalabar (Kenneth Williams - Carry on Follow that Camel) wants all of the British dead, except his troop's fear the "skirted-devils" as Third Foot and Mouth regiment are known as they are rumoured not to wear anything under their kilts. That is until Pte. James Widdle (Charles Hawtrey - Carry on Spying) is caught with his pants on.

In a way "Carry On Up the Khyber" is one of the better "Carry On" movies as the whole thing revolves around a story not so much derived from the history books but using a historical period as its source. As such we have a story about a feared British regiment coming under attack from revolting Burpas and an Indian ruler just as Queen Victoria's Imperial rule is floundering. But the strange thing is that whilst "Carry On Up the Khyber" is one of the stronger movies in the fluctuating franchise and features a variety of gags and fun performances it is also one of my least favourite because it almost feels too strong to be a "Carry On" movie. Daft I know but the utter stupidity of "Carry On" movies seems to have been replaced with the cast actually working to deliver the humour rather than letting the stupidity flow naturally.

Terry Scott and Roy Castle in Carry On Up the Khyber (1968)

So as already mentioned "Carry On Up the Khyber" takes its lead from the history books with a fictitious storyline about the feared Third Foot and Mouth Regiment protecting the Khyber Pass, a Khyber Pass which unsurprisingly looks a lot like Snowdonia. Anyway for a "Carry On" movie the storyline to "Carry On Up the Khyber" is actually one of the most solid as we have this feared regiment coming under attack when the local Burpas discover that the men actually do wear pants under their kilts. And what follows on from there is the story of how the Burpas attempt to take control from the English, whilst the English try to stop them. The thing is that whilst there isn't really much of a storyline, there is more than in your average "Carry On" movie and most of the humour is built around the storyline rather than the other way around.

Talking of the humour well as you would expect "Carry On Up the Khyber" has a steady flow of sexual innuendo streaming through it especially with the constant reference to having Tiffin, an initially humorous pseudonym for getting your leg over. But it is also varied with a mix of clever one liners and slapstick and in many ways serves up the sort of simple humour which made the "Carry On" movies so much fun. The only negative is that it becomes repetitive with jokes being used over and over again from the references to having Tiffin through to the constant references to the men of the Third Foot and Mouth regiment not wearing anything under their kilts. But getting through all the repetitive humour is worth it for an outrageously daft ending as the British enjoy a civilized meal, ignoring the fact that their home is crumbling around them as the Burpas attack outside.

As was often the case with "Carry On" movies or at least those from the second half of the 60s onwards is that Sid James is central to everything as Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond. Whilst Sid James serves up plenty of dirty cackles he actually seems very at home at playing the aristocrat in India and works brilliantly well with Joan Sims who plays his buxom wife. And along with Sid James and Joan Sims there are plenty of other "Carry On" regulars such as Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Bresslaw. But it is the guest appearance from Roy Castle as Captain Keene which delivers the most laughs because in all honesty he seems out of place as he actually tries to create a character. It makes his performance fun and amusing especially as there is a touch of nervousness about it whether it was intentional or not.

What this all boils down to is that "Carry On Up the Khyber" is one of the more solid of the "Carry On" movies with the humour revolving around the storyline than the other way around. But whilst there is a good variety of jokes and some entertaining performances it almost feels like it's trying to hard and the stupidity which made the "Carry On" movies so much fun is sort of lacking.

Tags: Carry On Movies