Thursday, September 18, 2008

Follow That Camel!

Recently, there was a meme going about in which one is supposed to list the ten (or was it twelve?) movies he or she has always wanted to see but could never find. I tried. I really did. The problem was that after I consulted my list of such films (made back in the early eighties), I'd already seen most of them and nearly all of the remaining ones were but a few clicks away on the 'Net. I ordered a couple from Amazon and found a few more online. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be writing about all of them.
First up is FOLLOW THAT CAMEL, part of England's low-brow CARRY ON series. Made in 1967, this was one of two films that had to forgo the series title due to a switch in distributors. That said, it is most definitely a CARRY ON film albeit with one major difference. Phil Silvers. Yep. Bilko himself...pretty much playing the same character he always played. Apparently series regular Sid James was ill and Silvers' stage background made the actor (whom I believe had most recently guested as "Shifty" Schaeffer on TV's THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES) a surprisingly good replacement.
The "plot" follows Jim Dale (award-winning HARRY POTTER reader in recent years) as a young English gentleman who takes his manservant along to join the Foreign Legion. Silvers is the less-than-ethical Sgt Nocker. Series reliables Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey command the fort while Bernard Bresslaw, often wasted in these pictures, chews the scenery with gusto as the villainous Arab Sheikh.

There are lots of burlesque level gags, the expected double entendres and a few inspired comedic bits such as Hawtrey staging a sandcastle contest in the desert to build morale. Silvers is not only a perfect replacement for the ailing James (a beloved figure in British comedy) but at times even evokes that old rascal with his delivery!

I discovered the CARRY ON films in the early 1980's and have wanted to see this one almost ever since. It's not great by anybody's definition but it was well-done for what it was and it was worth the wait.

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