Carry On No More
Map salesman Christopher Columbus (Jim Dale) believes that it is possible to sail to China and persuades the Queen of Spain (June Whitfield) who persuades the King of Spain (Leslie Phillips) to back his planned voyage. But the Sultan of Turkey (Rik Mayall), who exploits the trade which passes through his country with excessive taxing, fears it will bring an end to his wealth and sends Fatima (Sara Crowe) to wreck Columbus's mission.
For a long time "Carry on Columbus" was the only "Carry on" movie which I hadn't seen, partly because it got slammed by the legion of "Carry on" fans and partly because unlike the other "Carry on" movies it is never shown on TV, amusing considering in the last week there have been at least six Carry on movies on again. But after finally watching this attempt to kick start the once popular British movie series I am torn because "Carry on Columbus" isn't a good movie but then I could see how it could have been good. And at the same time it reinforced certain things not just about the "Carry on" movies but British comedy in general.
If "Carry on Columbus" had been made back in the 60s when the likes of "Carry on Cleo" wer made it would have worked and possibly have been one of the great "Carry on" movies. Why? Well for one it would have had some better writing but it would have also starred Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey as well as other "Carry On" stalwarts. And that is one of the things that "Carry on Columbus" reinforces because the "Carry On" movies ended up being all about those Carry on stars and without them it just isn't right, something which was proven 14 years earlier when the original series of movies came to an excruciating end.
The irony of this is that if instead of making "Carry on Columbus" a "Carry on" movie they had billed it as a "The Comic Strip Presents" it would have been more acceptable. In fact that would have allowed them to ditch the "Carry On" style comedy and just go with what was then alternative comedy. And that is another reason why it fails because in trying to recreate the Carry on humour of the 60s and 70s it is not so appealing to a new generation who find the gags tame and often unfunny.
Now I've already mentioned that "Carry on Columbus" proved that "Carry On" was all about the actors who became the faces of the movies but praise has to go to Jim Dale because he recreates so much of what was good about the original movies. In fact whilst some other "Carry on" faces appear such as Bernard Cribbins, Leslie Phillips and June Whitfield it is only Dale who brings back the old magic. Of the new faces well Sara Crowe certainly has the look of a "Carry On" babe but it is only Julian Clary who comes out of this looking good because his innuendo filled style of camp comedy is suited for "Carry On". As for the rest of the new faces well as I said if they had called this "The Comic Strip Presents" then Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle and so on would probably have been funnier.
What this all boils down to is that "Carry on Columbus" ends up a misguided attempt to try and bring "Carry On" back. Despite the best attempts of Jim Dale it doesn't work because sadly the "Carry On" movies ended up about the likes of Sid James, Joan Sims and Kenneth Williams and with out them it just doesn't work.
Tags: Carry On Movies