France is in the grip of the Reign of Terror and the aristocracy are making the unwelcome acquaintance of Madame Guillotine. Sir Rodney Ffing (Sid James) and Lord Darcy de Pue (Jim Dale), alarmed at the plight of the French aristocrats vow to lift a finger or two to help bring justice back to French soil.
With Darcy on hand to distract onlookers, Sir Rodney, in the guise of the dashing Black Fingernail, rescues the Duc de Pommfrit (Charles Hawtrey) from the block moments before death. The trio flee to safety, with Citizens Camembert (Kenneth Williams) and Bidet (Peter Butterworth) in hot pursuit.
Once safely back in England, Sir Rodney holds one of his celebrated balls in aid of the beleaguered aristocrats but Camembert, with his sister Désirée (Joan Sims) and Bidet, trick their way in and reveal to Sir Rodney that they have captured the woman who helped him to flee their clutches, the beautiful Jacqueline. Sir Rodney, Darcy and the Duc head back over the channel to Camembert’s chateau to mount a daring rescue.
A Peter Rogers Production Directed by Gerald Thomas
Music: Eric Rogers
Sir Rodney Ffing/The Black Fingernail
Lord Darcy de Pue
Duc de Pommfrit
Malabonce the Executioner
Valerie Von Ost
"Paris, 1789 and the Great Revolution is underway. The noblest heads in the land are being lost to the fearful embrace of Madame Guillotine.
Sir Rodney Ffing (Sid James), an Englishman of the finest breeding, decides to lift a little finger (or even two). Daring rescues are staged and a calling card is always left bearing the contemptuous sign of that damned elusive The Black Fingernail.
Searching for Ffing and his faithful partner, Lord Darcy, are the fiendish Citizen Camembert and Citizen Bidet.
Will the Fingernail's true identity be discovered? Will Camembert and Bidet have the last laugh? Will you manage to stop laughing your head off in this hilarious romp with the best of the Cary On team?"
Don’t Lose your Head, in common with the later Anglo Amalgamated films displays a swaggering confidence. The Carry On team knows exactly how to raise a laugh out of a decidedly grim episode in history.
Sid James may be renowned as the most masculine bloke who ever walked the earth but his reputation has overshadowed the fact that he was also a fine actor when the role demanded it. Here, Sid plays the dual roles of The Black Fingernail and his foppish alter ego Sir Rodney with absolute conviction. He even makes for a surprisingly convincing woman. Sid, like the character (and characters) he plays, is a master of disguise and effortlessly slips in and out of each one.
There is a definite sense that the script runs out of steam towards the end. In particular, the sequence in the Chateau almost outstays its welcome. A touch of blood and thunder swashbuckling is all very well, but the fight does go on for quite some time.
But of course, we don’t love the Carry Ons for their realism and common sense and Don’t Lose your Head is, for the most part, light, funny and anarchic. It’s not one of the best Carry On films, but it is a long way from being one of the worst.