Publicity

 

Story

Map maker Christopher Columbus (Jim Dale) is visited by Mordechai Mendoza (Bernard Cribbins), a scholar who claims to have a map showing a route to the Far East which circumvents the lands owned by the Sultan of Turkey (Rik Mayall).  Bypassing Turkey means travellers can avoid the Sultan’s exorbitant taxes.  The King and Queen of Spain (Leslie Phillips and June Whitfield), commission Columbus to lead an expedition to the Indies via this new route.  Prison Governor Don Juan Diego (Julian Clary) agrees to join Columbus and brings with him a motley crew of criminals and cut-throats. But the Sultan’s spies present an even greater danger.  Achmed (Alexei Sayle) smuggles himself aboard together with the beautiful Fatima (Sara Crowe), disguised as a cabin boy. 

When Columbus finally sights land the natives aren’t quite what he expected.  Conned out of his provisions and even his clothes by the devious Big Chief (Larry Miller) and his men, Columbus returns to Spain with a consignment of fool’s gold.  But there’s a different kind treasure on offer when Columbus unfrocks the cabin boy. 

 

A Peter Rogers Production
Directed by Gerald Thomas

1992
Colour

Screenplay: Dave Freeman
Music: John du Prez
Certificate: PG
87 minutes

Christopher Columbus - Jim Dale
Mordecai Mendoza Bernard Cribbins
King Ferdinand of Spain - Leslie Phillips
Queen Isabella of Spain -

June Whitfield

Fatima - Sara Crowe
Achmed -

Alexei Sayle

Don Juan Felipe

- Richard Wilson
Countess Esmeralda - Maureen Lipman
Don Juan Diego - Julian Clary
Pepi the Poisoner - Keith Allen
Marco the Cereal Killer - Jack Douglas
Tonto the Torch - Danny Peacock
Bart Columbus - Peter Richardson
Maria - Holly Aird
Chiquita - Rebecca Lacey
Sultan of Turkey - Rik Mayall
Wazir - Nigel Planer
Duke of Costa Brava - Jon Pertwee
Wang - Burt Kwouk
Bosun - Don Henderson
Governor of the Canaries - Peter Gilmore
Cecil the Torturer - Harold Berens
Baba - Tony Slattery
Martin - Martin Clunes
Pontiac - Charles Fleischer
Hubba - Chris Langham
The Chief - Larry Martin
Manservant - John Antrobus

 

 

"It's 1492 and the Sultan of Turkey controls overland trade from the Far East to Europe. Christopher Columbus, looking to make his fortune, persuades the King and Queen of Spain to finance an expedition to find a new sea route to India.

In the best traditions of the original Carry on series, this historical farce features the cream of the current comedy crop...

Starring Jim Dale, Maureen Lipman, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Alexei Sayle, Julian Clary and a host of others it's sure to be a well crewed voyage! So why not grab an oar and set sail with the biggest bunch of anchors who ever put to sea!"

 

Review

It is difficult to know quite where to begin describing how wrong Carry On Columbus is.  I have never been opposed to the idea of a Carry On revival – the recent success of the St Trinian’s films shows that much-loved comedy franchises can come back from the dead and still retain the same old magic, but Columbus is executed so dispassionately, so awkwardly that it fails on almost every level.

Carry On Columbus is joyless.  The story, and there really isn’t much of one, plods around confusingly before the team finally reach America at which point the remainder of the film is basically an over long sketch about how the gang are conned by the natives.  But we knew that would happen the moment we first clapped eyes on Big Chief and his admittedly rather brilliantly conceived natives.  The big payoff takes so long to happen that by the time it does, the only emotion left is relief.  Any comedy potential disappeared long ago.

Carry On Columbus is a charmless attempt to breathe life into an old favourite.  I tried to like it when it came out and I’ve tried again a number of times since but, no matter how hard I try to find some redeeming feature to make the effort worthwhile, I cannot.