Sid James (who else?) as the bawdy King Henry and the sublime double act of Kenneth Williams and Terry Scott. Joan Sims and Babs adding some welcome glamour and doing all they can to make the men appear fools. But somehow, despite all these delicious ingredients, Carry On Henry leaves a sour taste.
Consider a story where the lead character spends most of his time trying to dispose of the female lead; where she gets pregnant by another man and then blackmails her cuckolded husband; where another character spends the bulk of the proceedings in a torture chamber undergoing untold ignominy. All these things work against the gloriously scripted lines and the wonderful performances to produce a film which feels more than a little heartless and cynical.
Nevertheless, there are many elements of Carry On Henry that do stand out. Eric Rogers’ score, based on the music of the time, is a delightfully sophisticated backdrop to a sumptuous visual feast. The costumes and sets all look beautiful and as a period piece it’s hard to find fault. There are wonderful performances from the lead actors and the trusty Carry On rep - most notably Peter Gilmore, whose King of France is a joyously camp and menacing character. All these things deserve praise. But Carry On Henry is a film at odds with itself. The lasting impression is one of cynicism and deceit and these do not a cosy comedy make.