Bertram West (Jim Dale) is a typical English gentleman, with his country house, impeccable manners, well-brought up fiancee and devoted manservant. When he is accused of ungentlemanly behaviour, following an incident at a cricket match, West runs away to join the French Foreign Legion, accompanied by his faithful retainer, Simpson (Peter Butterworth). When he reaches the African town where the fort is, he asks directions from Zigzig (Joan Sims), a local 'lady of pleasure', who at that moment was entertaining Sergeant Knocker (Phil Silvers), the local hero of the Legion.
When Knocker tries to make life hard for the new recruits, they let him know that his tales of hardship and long treks across the desert waste were mere fiction, and fearing that his superior officer Commander Burger (Kenneth Williams) will strip him of his medals, Knocker sees to it that life becomes a breeze once more. Except that the fort is beseiged by the hordes of Sheikh Abdul Abulbul (Bernard Bresslaw).
Meanwhile, the truth has been revealed about the cricket incident, and aware that an injustice has been done, West's fiancee Lady Jane (Angela Douglas) comes searching for her love.......
This entry into Carry On lore has many things going for it. The performances of the established stars are very creditable, and one that stands out for me is Charles Hawtrey as burger's adjutant, Capitan Le Pice (cue loads of 'Oui, Oui' jokes here...). Others stand out for other reasons, most notably Anita Harris as the exotic dancer Corktip, which is one of the best Carry On character names I've heard.
Others do very well, and the script has some great lines in it, but somehow, the movie doesn't really work. And the reason for this is simple. It's Bilko in the Desert and good as Phil Silvers is, it's not Carry On. Not for me. And that disappoints me a little, because overall I feel I should enjoy this movie more than I actually do.
As with Carry On Don't Lose Your Head, the Carry On tag was added almost as an afterthought. And unlike Don't Lose Your Head, in this case it feels like an afterthought. Which is sad, because I'm still certain that if you remove the comparison to other movies in the series, you'll enjoy yourself a lot more.