Monday, 8 September 2014

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS: CARRY ON CAMPING

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS

34. CARRY ON CAMPING (1969, dir. Gerald Thomas)

08/09/2014


It was an odd choice of film for a Sunday morning on ITV yesterday but, seeing as ITV are the inheritors of the Rank film library, they can show most of the "Carry On" films as much as like, and they do, especially on ITV3. However, and it may because I was born in the 1980s, I don't see why it is shown at all.

"Carry On Camping" is a film that has characters wanting to attend a nudist holiday camp, while also featuring a coach-load of girls from a finishing school, the jumble of which is then invaded by a hippie rave towards the end. Double entendres, domineering women and ineffectual men abound. It doesn't feel like the type of scene in which I would find myself, that much is clear, but I don't see this as a Great Britain that even exists anymore - by that, I mean it not only doesn't exist physically, but I also don't recognise the situation at which I am supposed to be laughing. No wonder the "Carry On" films that do work were period pieces from the start, like "...Up the Khyber," or "...Cleo".

1969 was already a time when the Costa Del Sol was an option for many people, and was also the year the Boeing 747 first flew passengers there, but "Carry On Abroad" did not follow until 1972. In the year that Germaine Greer's "The Female Eunuch" was published, finishing schools would be seen as either passé or sexist, with those remaining today providing courses to men too. Camping itself is now more gentrified, especially when it already has a music festival attached to it, and to go camping is now almost an anti-holiday, ironic stance.

Irony cannot exist in the Britain of the "Carry On" films, for once you poke a hole in it, it deflates. If you watch it, you are escaping back to a time that once was, that you once you remembered being great, because you were there - if you were not there, and you read the history books, it was grim. It won't stop ITV showing the films, or "The X Factor," or "Coronation Street," or "Emmerdale," or "Long Lost Family," or "The Jeremy Kyle Show"... 

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