Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Carry On Cabbie

(UK, 1963)

I had heard of the “Carry On” series of British comedy films for a long time, but had never seen one until this one came on TCM. Then I looked into it and was surprised to learn that there were thirty-one of them, plus stage and television versions. I had thought no more than a dozen, sort of like the legendary Ealing comedies. It is the longest-running film franchise in British history. (It was even longer than the James Bond movies, of which there are twenty-three at this writing [2015], with a twenty-fourth [Spectre] due this November, once again with Daniel Craig, the second-best Bond.) As far as I can tell these films had nothing in common except the title, and a lot of regular cast members. But they didn’t play the same characters.

I’m a big fan of British humor, which can range from Monty Python to the Two Ronnies to Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder and Mr. Bean. But it also includes Benny Hill, and this movie leans a bit too far in that direction for my taste. Not that there’s anything really wrong with Mr. Hill, he’s just not my cuppa. This sort of humor comes from the British music hall, which I suspect you needed to grow up with to fully appreciate. The situation is that there’s this guy who runs a cab company, whose every driver is wacky in one way or another. His trouble (Cockney rhyming slang for “wife,” that is, “trouble-and-strife”) is not happy with him because he would much rather be out getting fares than taking her out at night. So, unknown to the old pot and pan (old man, or husband) she starts her own taxi company (ordering fifteen new cars at once; she must have floated herself one hell of a loan) using only female drivers. The main qualification is having a nice pair of thrupenny bits (tits). Soon the ladies are eating the guys’ lunch. Since it’s a comedy, everything works out in the end.

There are laughs along the way, but the version I saw was sorely lacking in English sub-titles for the Cockney language. A good bit of the dialogue was incomprehensible to American ears. Or my American ears, anyway.