Follow that Camel (1967)

UK,
95m, 2607 metres
35mm film, Eastmancolor
mono, English

A British comedy film with minor fantasy elements directed by Gerald Thomas. Although, like it's predecessor Don't Lose Your Head (1966), it lacks the series prefix this was the fourteenth film in the series. In some territories it was sold as Carry On in the Legion and Carry On… Follow that Camel and UK DVD releases have been advertised using the latter title.

Plot Summary

Bo West's reputation is unfairly questioned and to prove himself, he and his manservant Simpson join the Foreign Legion. But they find themselves among the most inept and eccentric ever and the locals are getting twitchy…

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Gerald Thomas
© Rank Film Distributors Ltd. MCMLXVII [1967]
The Rank Organisation presents a Peter Rogers production
Produced by: Peter Rogers
Screenplay by: Talbot Rothwell
Director of Photography: Alan Hume
Editor: Alfred Roome
Music Composed and Conducted by: Eric Rogers
Sound Recordists: Dudley Messenger, Ken Barker
Costume Designer: Emma Selby-Walker
Make Up: Geoffrey Rodway
Hairdresser: Stella Rivers
Art Director: Vetchinsky
Made at: Pinewood Studios, London, England
Locations: Camber Sands, Camber, East Sussex, England, UK *

Cast
Phil Silvers as Sergeant Nocker
Kenneth Williams (Commandant Maximilian Burger)
Jim Dale (Bo West)
Charles Hawtrey (Captain Le Pice)
Joan Sims (Zig-Zig)
Angela Douglas (Lady Jane Ponsonby)
Peter Butterworth (Simpson)
Bernard Bresslaw (Sheikh Abdul Abulbul)
Anita Harris (Corktip)
John Bluthal (Corporal Clotski)
William Mervyn (Sir Cyril Ponsonby)
Peter Gilmore (Captain Humphrey Bagshaw)
Julian Holloway (ticket collector)
Larry Taylor (Riff)
William Hurndell (Raff)
David Glover (hotel manager)
Julian Orchard (doctor)
Vincent Ball (ship's officer)
Angela Grant [harem girl] *

Alternative Titles

Carry on In the Legion – USA
Carry on Up the Legion
Carry On… Follow That Camel
– re-release title
Ist ja irre – Durch die Wüste fließt kein Wasser
– West Germany

Extracts included in
Can We Carry On, Girls? (2001)
Carry on Snogging (1998)
That's Carry On (1977)
The Unforgettable Joan Sims (2002)

Press

The film was not at all well liked by British critics when it was first released. In The Evening Standard, Alexander Walker called it “something worse than totally unfunny. Even its efforts to be indelicate are dull” 1The Evening Standard 4 December 1967, Cecil Wilson in The Daily Mail felt that it “does nothing that earlier Foreign Legion frolics had not done better with fewer puns and double and unashamedly single meanings” 2The Daily Mail 12 December 1967 and Ann Pacey of The Sun felt that the “series is running out of steam” and that “the old team have been pretty poorly served by screenplay writer Talbot Rothwell, who seems to have run out of all those splendid smutty jokes that made previous Carry On's so outrageous.” 3The Sun 12 December 1967

The rudeness of the jokes was also an issue for Felix Barker who, writing in the Evening News, complained that “there are so many dirty double meanings in the dialogue that you come out frightened to speak for fear that anything you say will automatically turn blue.” 4Evening News 14 December 1967 while John Russell Taylor of The Times felt that fans would appreciate it but that “if anything [it's] a bit bluer than usual.” 5The Times 14 December 1967. Similarly Patrick Gibbs of The Financial Times wrote that “these adventures of Bo West (Jim Dale) in the appear to be aimed at the Lower Fourth caught in the lavatory rather than the classroom. […] Plenty of rude puns as usual from the author, Talbot Rothwell, and a plucky though puzzled performance from the American comedian Phil Silvers which shows how difficult it is to join in the game.” 6The Financial Times 15 December 1967

The general consensus seems to be that the film was below the usual par for the Carry On series. Nina Hibbin inThe Morning Star called it “way below the general level of the series” and complained that “the essential gor-blimey spirit is largely destroyed by the presence of Phil Silvers” 7The Morning Star 16 December 1967, Clive Hirschhorn of The Sunday Express felt that “the laughter is as scarce as water in the Sahara, and though the formula is as ever was, this is not one of the team's better efforts8The Sunday Express 17 December 1967 and Penelope Mortimer of The Observer was particularly unimpressed: “from the titles on, everything looks hideous and sounds worse. This tatty picture deserves, to my mind, a quick death. It will probably live for years.” 9The Observer 24 December 1967

There were some kinder voices though. In The Guardian, Richard Roud noted that it was “another in the “Carry On” series, and, as such, defies criticism” 10The Guardian 15 December 1967, John Coleman of The New Statesman admitted that “I laughed several times, as an avowed addict of this rubbish, and particularly admired appearances by Joan Sims […] and Angela Douglas” 11The New Statesman 15 December 1967, Margaret Hinxman said that there were “some good, new, crafty laughs – as well as acres of chestnuts – and four excellent comedy characterisations: Angela Douglas's delicious, upper-crust silly ninny; Kenneth Williams's bargain basement Erich von Stroheim commandant; Bernard Bresslaw's toothy sheikh with an Akim Tamiroff accent; and Joan Sims's eye-flashing, bosom-wobbling owner of the local low dive” 12The Sunday Telegraph 17 December 1967 and in The Sunday Times, Dilys Powell summed it up as having “excellent beginnings middle less good but generally funny” 13The Sunday Times 17 December 1967

References

Periodicals

  • Classic Television no.1 (September 1997) pp.25-33 – illustrated article (Carry On Remembering by Jim Bright)
  • The Daily Cinema no.9451 (24 November 1967) p.4 – review
  • Kine Weekly no.3138 (2 December 1967) p.7 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.35 no.408 (January 1968) p.9 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Radio Times vol.247 no.3240 (21 December 1985-3 January 1986) pp.27; 35 – review (Christmas and New Year Films by Geoff Brown); illustrated credits, synopsis
  • Variety 20 December 1967 p.15 – credits, review

Newspapers

  • The Daily Mail 12 December 1967 – review (by Cecil Wilson)
  • Evening News 14 December 1967 – review (by Felix Barker)
  • The Evening Standard 4 December 1967 – review (by Alexander Walker)
  • The Financial Times 15 December 1967 – reviews (by David Robinson and Patrick Gibbs)
  • The Guardian 15 December 1967 – review (by Richard Roud)
  • The Morning Star 16 December 1967 – review (by Nina Hibbin)
  • The New Statesman 15 December 1967 – review (by John Coleman)
  • The Observer 24 December 1967 – review (by Penelope Mortimer)
  • The Sun 12 December 1967 – review (Still wearily carrying on by Ann Pacey)
  • The Sunday Express 17 December 1967 – review (by Clive Hirschhorn)
  • The Sunday Telegraph 17 December 1967 – review (by Margaret Hinxman)
  • The Sunday Times 17 December 1967 – review (by Dilys Powell)
  • The Times 14 December 1967 – review (by John Russell Taylor)

Books

  • British National Film Catalogue vol.6 (1968) – credits
  • Carry on Confidential by Andy Davidson pp.109-116 – credits, notes
  • The Carry On Story by Robert Ross pp.84-87 – illustrated article
  • The Official Carry On Facts, Figures & Statistics by Kevin Snelgrove pp.111-112
  • What a Carry On: The Official Story of the Carry On Film Series compiled by Sally Hibbin and Nina Hibbin pp.100-101 – illustrated article