Carry On Matron
Carry On Matron – 1971 | 87 mins | Comedy | Colour
Carry On Matron contained no hint of political comment or dubious materialistic ideals, this film was a complete and utter wallow in the low-brow comedy and flamboyant stereotypes of old: all pregnancy gags, sexy nurses and your average sort of tale of an attempted contraceptive pill burglary!
The patients in this film are even less important than in Carry On Again Doctor. Although several expectant mums arrive and have their babies (notably Valerie Leon and Madeline Smith), they are simply the source of a quick one-liner or just a plot device. Only one genuine expectant mother is given any sort of screen time and that’s ever-eating, ever-complaining Joan Sims, who spends the film lying in bed, devouring sausages and tomatoes and faking birth pangs to avoid induced labour. It’s a fairly minor supporting turn but delivered beautifully, with belittled railway worker Kenneth Connor the ultimate in anxious expectant husbands.
The central thread of the story, however, concerns the finely tuned plan of robbing the hospital of its pill supply. Heading the operation is, of course, experienced film crook and all-round charmer, Sid James. Taking on elements from The Lavender Hill Mob, Two Many Crooks and a score of second feature British crime thrillers, Sid strolls effortlessly through his part, with the merest of raised eyebrows and chuckling comment enough to get his belly laughs. Sid’s son, Kenneth Cope, goes to the limit of depravity for his dad by donning a nurse’s uniform and casing the joint. Naturally, Cope attracts the attention of sex-mad doctor, Terry Scott. Having bluffed his way past Gwendolyn Watts on reception, Cope bumps into sexy nurse Barbara Windsor who discovers his true identity, tosses in a tongue-in-cheek reference about being a ‘gangster’s moll!’ and evokes a priceless shocked expression from Sid as the two ‘nurses’ are caught in a passionate embrace.
The scenes of the gang’s robbery plans (other members being Bernard Bresslaw and Bill Maynard), are juxtaposed with various flights of fancy with the three principal authority figures at Finesham hospital: Hattie Jacques as the endearingly cynical Matron, Kenneth Williams as the overtly eye-popping, hypochondriac surgeon and Charles Hawtrey as the absent-minded psychiatrist. This trio of Carry On legends simply camp around the hospital, mugging wonderfully to lesser characters and the camera, and have a whale of a time with the ancient comic dialogue. The bumbling gang of crooks muff the operation but avoid the long arm of the law, Cope and Windsor get together and the on-off romantic relationship between Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques that had stretched back to Doctor finally ends in wedding bells.
Review© Robert Ross: Carry On Companion.
Gerald Thomas: Director
Ernest Steward: Cinematography
Courtenay Elliott: Costume Designer
Alfred Roome: Editing
Geoffrey Rodway: Make-up Department
Eric Rogers: Original Music
Peter Rogers: Producer
Talbot Rothwell: Script
Danny Daniel: Sound Department
Ken Barker: Sound Department
Kenneth Williams: Sir Bernard Cutting
Sid James: Sid Carter
Charles Hawtrey: Dr Francis A Goode
Joan Sims: Mrs Tidey
Hattie Jacques: Matron
Bernard Bresslaw: Ernie
Barbara Windsor: Nurse Susan Ball
Terry Scott: Dr Prodd
Kenneth Cope: Cyril Carter
Kenneth Connor: Mr Tidey
Jacki Piper: Sister
Bill Maynard: Freddy
Patsy Rowlands: Evelyn Banks