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Carry On...Up the Khyber
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10 from 3,227 votes
Release: 2 December 1968 (Brazil) /

Carry On...Up the Khyber

Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Director: Gerald Thomas,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond looks after the British outpost near the Khybar pass. Protected by the kilted Third Foot and Mouth regiment, you would think they were safe. But the Khazi of Kalabar has other ideas. He wants all the British dead! But his troops fear the "skirted-devils"; they are rumoured not to wear anything underneath. Then one is caught with his pants on... Written by Simon N. McIntosh-Smith <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

Subtitled "The British Position In India", I was recommended to see this film by my friend Rav, who reportedly "busts a gut" every time he see Kenneth Williams in blackface and turban. I was pleased to have seen it on recommendation as it made me feel less guilty about viewing a Carry On that is vested not only with the usual quota of bawdy sexism, but also a generous dollop of racial stereotyping.

Yet despite it all, Carry On Up The Khyber still manages to be a very funny film. I can't claim to have seen the entire series (this was the 16th of 30 movies), but what I have seen leads me to cite this as probably the best. Produced at a time when Britain still had a significant film industry, the picture is allowed to play out without any of the desperate mugging and over-emphasised pauses that punctuate the majority of contemporary English comedy movies (including, ironically, Carry On Columbus, the ill-advised 1992 "comeback").

Khyber is relaxed because it knew it had a ready-made audience, and the humour also works because it is self-aware. Desperately cheesy lines (such as Peter Butterworth saying "What pretty earrings... are they rubies?", only to be met with "No, they're mine") are delivered shamelessly, and with a timing that acknowledges how truly awful some of the one-liners are.

Occasionally there is a line that plays to a higher audience, such as Kenneth Williams yelling at a man banging a gong: "I do wish you wouldn't keep doing that... Rank stupidity". There's also some slight political references to the famous slogan "I'm Backing Britain" and mention of the British being used to cuts, though I'm afraid I'm far too young to know what these are directly referring to. Generally, though, the humour is a series of puns on the word "Khazi" and rejoinders such as Sid James and Williams: "I'd even go so far as to say you're a bit of a shot". "Well, I hope I heard you correctly".

Even so, the humour, particularly constant attempts to nearly-ape the "f" word, did cause problems with the censor. In particular Bunghit Din's (my favourite Carry On member, the underrated Bernard Bresslaw) hilarious line of "Fakir - off!" was ordered to be reshot with an additional pause between the two words.

The rapid-fire pace of the gags mean that infrequent clunkers (such as Joan Simms attempting the old "call me an elephant" - "okay, you're an elephant" line, ancient even by Carry On standards) are quickly forgotten in the wealth of material. Superbly directed as well, particularly the closing scenes where the British (who are lampooned as much - if not more so - than their opponents) keep a stiff upper lip during bombardment.

The whole plot is, of course, absolutely ludicrous, suggesting that the final days of the Raj came about when a British regiment was discovered wearing underpants. The whole thing is the sort of film that would never be made nowadays, which is in many ways a good thing, yet there is a certain knowingness behind the eyes of the actors that keep it from dating.

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