This Happened in Stodge City!

Film Review, December 1965

Yes, the truth can no longer be kept from you, these latter-day desperadoes of the West are none other than our old friends Sid James, whose possible ancestor, Jesse, would turn in his grave to see what the Frontier has come to; Kenneth Williams who as Judge Burke would also cause frenzied stirrings in the tomb of Judge Roy Bean; Davy Kaye as Josh the undertaker; Jim Dale who becomes an un-Earply Marshal; and the rest of the Carry On team who assembled at Pinewood Studios to make the eleventh in the most famous comedy series in the history of the cinema; Carry On Cowboy.

Well, pardners, I hit the Trail of the Lonesome Pinewood to meet those galoots, and durn my sheepskin chaps if I didn't count myself lucky to get back alive after all the gunsmoke, clatter of hooves, whooping redskins, whistling arrows and saloon brawling.

Did you ever see a better film set than what has been recreated on the Pinewood back lot? It is the main street of Stodge City and I walked its length, scanning the names of the occupants offering their wares or services. There were Jake's Jewelry; the Stage Transit Co; Josh Moses, Undertaker; Stodge City Bank; the jail; the Sheriff's office; Judge Burke, Attorney; Hank Jameson, Hardware; Pete Belton, Corn Dealer; Mid Western Union Cable Office; Belle's Place, Saloon and Hotel (clean rooms 5 cents); Ken Softley, Groceries; Pam's Lemonade Parlor; and Tex Hart, Tonsorial Parlor (teeth pulled - fast shaving)

Moseying along to Belle's Place I was having a word with Belle (Joan Sims) when I suddenly felt a gun barrel in the region of my fifth rib. I turned round quickly to find a grinning Sid James.

"That thing's not loaded?" I gasped

"Don't know" Sid answered blithely. "I" ain't pulled the trigger yet!" Sid plays the part of a notorious Rumpo Kid, the fastest gun in the West.

I next met Kenneth Williams, famous Carry On stalwart, who in his role of Judge Burke was calling on the Sheriff (Jon Pertwee) to run Rumpo out of town. Not wishing to get myself involved in the ensuing gunplay, I moved out to the Reservation and met the first Indian Chief I have ever seen wearing spectacles. You've guessed - it was indeed Charles Hawtrey, who has the role of Big Heap. There's also a Little Heap in the person of Bernard Bresslaw. Charles told me that he's never happier than when he's making a Carry On film. However incongruous the situation he always wears his glasses, as we saw in Carry On Cleo when he was a bespectacled Roman - hundreds of years before glasses were thought of!

Back in the street, Rumpo's guns were shattering the peace of Stodge City, so I hurriedly betook myself to where the Wells Fargo Stage was preparing to move off. There I met Jim Dale whose name, Marshall P Knutt, had confused the authorities and he had been sent to Stodge as a Peace Marshal. With him was the very attractive Angela Douglas who, as Annie Oakley, must have greatly flattered the shade of the original girl gunslinger wherever she might be now.

When the shooting died down in the street and the corpses were being taken care of, I went across to the saloon where the cameras were being set up for some interiors. While we were waiting I chatted with producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas. Peter told me that he had wanted to do a send up of a Western for a long time, particularly in view of the fact that it will also be welcome in America, where the Carry On films have been outstandingly successful. Gerald Thomas was frankly having fun, but that is the impression one always gets from the Carry On team. They have the faculty of making hard work look like play, which is usually the case when you get the sort of cooperation that Peter Rogers always inspires in his team.

As I watched Sid James riding off into the sunset I knew hat before long you'll have the opportunity of seeing, at your local ABC, one of the funniest in the long line of Carry On comedies. Carry On Cowboy has been filmed in colour, but I'll be right back, pardners, with more information before the film is released.