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Carry On Camping (1969)



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Carry On Camping is many people's favorite Carry On film. For me, it's the one where things start to go all wrong. No, they haven't gone wrong yet -- this is a funny movie, and I like it -- but with this installment, the series starts down a road that would eventually lead it astray.

Here's a good example of what I mean. Arguably the most famous gag in the entire series occurs in Carry On Camping when Barbara Windsor suffers a wardrobe malfunction. It's funny, I guess, but hardly witty. Carry On humor was always lowbrow, but the best episodes were clever nonetheless. Even its purely physical slapstick humor was set in an environment where the laughs came not so much from pratfalls in and of themselves but the circumstances they occurred in. Here, the joke works mostly because the end result Kenneth Williams' character being scandalized. But there are other jokes in Carry On Camping that use slapstick or innuendo without anything to push against. As the series continued, this would become more and more the norm.

Still, there are some wonderful things about Carry On Camping, the foremost being to team up Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques. The earlier film Carry On Doctor made great use of this match-up by giving Jacques a passionate infatuation with Williams and Williams a panicky fear of Jacques. Carry On Camping reprises that idea and possibly does an even better job of exploiting it. They're so good, that they give the film the momentum it takes to push through the weaker plot threads.

It's also worth noting that this might be the most dated of the series, due to the sequence at the climax, when a bunch of hippies take over the camp site for a rave. As hilarious as it is to see Sid James dress up in hippie garb to infiltrate the party, the sequence roots the film to its time. That's not a criticism, but it's odd, given how timeless the rest of the series tends to be.

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