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  Carry On Up the Jungle Starkest Africa
Year: 1970
Director: Gerald Thomas
Stars: Frankie Howerd, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Terry Scott, Kenneth Connor, Bernard Bresslaw, Jacki Piper, Valerie Leon, Reuben Martin, Edwina Carroll, Valerie Moore, Cathie March, Danny Daniels, Yemi Ajibadi, Nina Baden-Semper, Oscar James
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Professor Inigo Tinkle (Frankie Howerd) is giving his talk to the assembled company regarding his African search for the Oozulum bird, which was believed by many experts to be extinct, but Tinkle refused to give up hope that it would be rediscovered. He joined a safari with his assistant Chumley (Kenneth Connor), led by big game hunter Bill Boosey (Sid James), and along for the journey was Lady Bagley (Joan Sims), who wished to track the whereabouts of her long lost son. Yet he may have been closer than she realised...

The nineteen-seventies were not especially kind to the Carry On series, signalling a coarsening of the humour and an increasing tendency to exhibit a lack of fresh ideas, but at least this jungle-based one had a notion ripe for spoofing, a send-up of the Tarzan series. Producer Peter Rogers couldn't get the rights to the Tarzan name, but it was obvious to all and sundry what they were taking aim at here, even if the impoverished nature of the production could not afford anything remotely convincing as far as the set design went. So the closest they got to the real Africa was some stock footage of animals spliced into the studio stuff.

But nobody was watching these for how authentic they were, so even if another style being parodied was the safari adventure such as Hatari and Mogambo which became popular for a while in the fifties and sixties thanks to the draw represented by that actual location work in Africa, this Carry On excursion was strictly of the artificial variety. This extended to Bernard Bresslaw in blackface as the native guide Upsidaisi, a role he reputedly took very seriously, but didn't half look strange when the bearers and tribesmen were played by actual black performers, perhaps making the modern viewer lament that Bresslaw wasn't given an alternative part to play.

However, Carry On Up the Jungle was no place for anything remotely serious, and it starts off quite engagingly with a barrage of double entendres and puns, most of them off colour and delivered with seasoned aplomb by the cast. Terry Scott was our "Jungle Boy", otherwise known as Ugh as that is the only word he knows how to speak, and having trouble handling his trademark vine-swinging, yet oddly screenwriter Talbot Rothwell (back again for one of the final times) didn't find much else to do with him other than portray him as waking up to the delights of the opposite sex when he meets Lady Bagley's maid June (Jacki Piper).

So if this wasn't top notch Carry On, it was nowhere near as bad as what was to come as the decade wore on and the series was forced to scrabble around for less inspired jokes to sustain their audience. It was noticeably more overt about the sexual desires of the characters, and some of those double entendres were more like single entendres, though the delivery helped in wringing some easy laughs out of them. Interestingly, while all the main players were shown to have sex on the brain, when a late on twist with a tribe of Amazons arrives and the men can have all they want it's more of a curse than a blessing, which may well say something telling about the British attitude. Charles Hawtrey appeared in the final half hour, and got one of the funniest lines in the movie on his entrance, but there was not really enough variety in the plotline once it had been established, not helped by the jokes being very predictable by this stage. Music by Eric Rogers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Gerald Thomas  (1920 - 1993)

British director responsible for every film in the Carry On series. Started as an assistant editor before debuting with the childrens' film Circus Friends. Thriller Timelock followed, but the success of 1958’s bawdy Carry On Sergeant launched one of the most successful series in British cinema. Thomas directed 30 Carry On films up until 1978’s Carry On Emmannuelle, returning in 1992 to deliver his final film, Carry On Columbus. Other films include the Carry On-esque Nurse on Wheels and The Big Job, plus the big screen version of Bless this House.

 
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