Carry On Jack is a tricky one. Taken at face value, you would be hard pressed to even identify it as a Carry On film. Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey are the only cast members who by this stage could even be considered regular members of the Carry On team and while Bernard Cribbins is flawlessly funny in every scene, he will only make one more in the next 28 years, so he is not what you might call a regular. Jim Dale gets a couple of very funny scenes early in the film but he is literally in it for a couple of minutes only.
It is easy to see, from Carry On Jack, just why the Carry On team would go on to do so well at historical comedy, but here the balance all wrong. Carry On Jack focuses too much on plot and not enough on being funny and there is an awful lot of plot to get through. At the heart of any successful Carry On is a quick fire succession of one liners, physical comedy and double-entendres. There’s not much of that in evidence in Carry On Jack. If anything, it’s too well written.
Carry On Jack may not be a particularly great Carry On, but it is an excellent swashbuckling comedy adventure.