Carry On Nurse (1959)

Rating: D

Dir: Gerald Thomas
Star: Terence Longden, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Kenneth Connor, Shirley Eaton

Hospital humour was the most productive vein for the Carry On team, mined no less than four times. Can’t blame them for going back to the well, considering that this was the top-grossing film of the year in the UK, and even a hit in the United States, a rare success abroad for the series. It’s especially odd, because this isn’t very funny. It’s a procession of vaguely interesting characters, given almost nothing to do, and the result is a series of scenes barely joined together, with little or no plot worthy of the name. A bunch of male patients in a ward banter, the nurses flitter around decoratively, but the only truly memorable sequence is when patients drunkenly agree to remove a bunion from one of their number – and that’s because it teeters on the edge of genuinely disturbing.

The most entertaining performance is Hyde-White’s Colonel, foreshadowing his other great “Colonel” role, in My Fair Lady. However, he’s stuck in a private room, so never gets to interact with the others, and the results are generally lumpy and uneven comedy. This was also Joan Sims’ Carry On debut, another crucial puzzle piece – she was in more of them than anyone else bar Kenneth Williams. Similarly to its predecessor, this was based on a previous work; in this case, Ring For Catty, a play co-written by Patrick (Father, Dear Father) Cargill. [Thomas filmed it again three years later, as Twice Around the Daffodils, starring Williams + Sims there too] In minor roles here, watch for a young June Whitfield as Leslie Phillips’ wife, and the future Mrs. Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, playing (of all things!) Williams’ girlfriend. You’ll find looking for them a welcome distraction from the script.