Daily Archives: June 27, 2021

Carry On Henry VIII (1971)

*. Around halfway through Carry On Henry VIII there’s a bit of dialogue where Henry’s queen sees Henry escorting a young beauty out to the garden for a tryst. The queen asks Cardinal Wolsey “Why is he taking her out into the garden?” Wolsey, running cover, replies “Oh, I expect just to get a little air, ma’am.” The queen rejoins: “How many more heirs does he want?”
*. That’s the only line in this movie that I even got a smile out of. By this point the Carry On series has pretty much run its course and was starting to feel out of date as well as tired. Apparently this one, the 21st if you were keeping count, was actually criticized for its attitude toward women. Something that you’d think was superfluous given their track record, but the hunting of the buxom lass really is disappointing, even for this lot.
*. A prefatory notice tells us that, as history, the movie we’re about to see is complete cobblers. This is a British expression having its origin in Cockney slang that I had to look up. Basically we’re in a sort of alternative universe where Henry VIII has just sent one wife to the block and wants to get rid of the next, Marie of Normandy. Don’t try to make any sense out of it, as cobblers it is.
*. Ding-dong, the gang’s all here: Sid James, naturally, is Henry, riffing off of Charles Laughton in tearing apart a chicken and doing his best for England in the bedroom. Kenneth Williams is Cromwell, Joan Sims is Queen Marie, Charles Hawtrey is Sir Roger de Lodgerley, Terry Scott is Cardinal Wolsey. The jokes are the usual bits of innuendo and bawdy puns, with a few topical references thrown in. The final line is a dig at the Labour Party. There’s also a joke about a new sin tax Henry wants to impose that I feel has to be referring to something going on in England at the time, but I don’t know what.
*. I’ve heard the coat worn by James is the same as the one worn by Richard Burton in Anne of the Thousand Days. And that the original alternative title was going to be Anne of a Thousand Lays. But I guess that was taking things just a bit too far, never mind that it made no sense. The long title (at least in the UK) was Carry on Henry or Mind My Chopper! Which, you’ll notice, also isn’t funny at all.
*. Were they thinking of doing the same baby gag as at the end of Follow That Camel and cut something at the last minute? It really looks like a shot was taken out, and it’s obvious that this was the joke they were setting up. But I don’t know enough about the production of the film to say.
*. Not worth bothering with unless you’re a hardcore fan, which I don’t suppose there are very many of these days.