January 2, 2017


Gerald Thomas (1920-1993) b. Hull, England.

Gerald Thomas

Carry On films as a group made the biggest single financial contribution to the British film industry over a number of years, their participants were allowed to exaggerate their own comedy styles, or camp it up as the approach later came to be termed, and included such experienced farceurs as Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Hattie Jacques, Bernard Bresslaw and Joan Sims. Gerald Thomas just pointed his cameras at them when they were about to deliver some particularly outrageous double-entendre and let the audience and Talbot Rothwell’s scripts do the rest. The brother of Ralph Thomas, this most British of directors began his film career immediately after World War II, as an assistant editor, progressing to editing and second-unit direction before making a Children’s Film Foundation drama, Circus Friends (1956) as his first solo feature. Time Lock (1957), his second film, was a tense thriller with a small role for the young Sean Connery, but in no time at all, the Carry Ons intervened and, to everyone’s surprise in the industry, quickly became a fondly regarded national institution. For the record, the best of them are Carry On Cleo (1964), Carry On Cowboy (1965), Carry On Screaming (1966), Carry On Up the Khyber (1968), the dinner-party sequence at the end of the last is superbly orchestrated and the best individual scene in any of them. The series always worked better in costume, though audiences seemed not to care about the ‘story’, however slapdash. Sometimes, as in Carry On Abroad (1972), elements of genuine satire could be observed to be creeping in.

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