The Carry On team’s homage to Dixon of Dock Green hits the floor running while the likes of Williams, Hawtrey and Connor are happily set in their familiar characterisations.
The film’s basic premise is vintage Norman Hudis, dealing with the urgent need for replacement police staff to plug the gap caused by absentees at a small London police station during a flu epidemic.
Sgt Frank Wilkins (South African hairdresser turned actor/comedian Sid James in his Carry On debut) becomes the amazed authority figure because of his love for the job and his need to cover the sheer bull-headed incompetence of his superior (Eric Barker).
Together with his only real ally, the coyly loving and similarly minded Sgt Laura Moon (Hattie Jacques), they welcome three new recruits in the shape of the high and mighty PC Stanley Benson (Kenneth Williams), astrology-fanatic PC Charlie Constable (Kenneth Connor) and laid-back woman-loving PC Tom Potter (Leslie Phillips).
Into this bubbling cocktail of madness and mayhem stumbles experienced but camply unsuitable police motorcyclist Special Constable Timothy Gorse (Charles Hawtrey) who is forever talking about his budgie, Bobby. Joan Sims plays the female police officer love interest WPC Gloria Passworthy.
Although James stands firmly at the centre of this film, it is the playful and dubious misadventures of Williams, Connor, Hawtrey and Phillips that signal most of the fun.
Williams is back to his superior self, mocking old-fashioned policing methods and dedicating his life to spotting the criminal by mere observation, while Connor twitches in the background, living his life through his horoscope, jittering around in his zodiac pyjamas and frequently rubbing his rabbit’s foot.
Classic scenes include poor little Esma Cannon as the deaf old lady who, having taken ages to cross the main road, is suddenly accosted by PC Benson and escorted back to the side of the road she had just spent so long getting across from, and Williams and Hawtrey undercover in disguise as women while trying to trap shoplifters in a department store.
The redemption of the four bumblers comes with a tense operation in a deserted house in search of a criminal gang.
Our intrepid coppers stagger around the building and eventually save the day, see Sid promoted to Inspector, find permanent positions at the station and bring Hattie’s love for Sgt Wilkins out in the open.
The film saw the very first nude scene in a Carry On film, albeit just the bare backsides of the new recruits as they dash from their showers before getting a chance to wrap their towels around themselves (pictured above).
Sgt Frank Wilkins
PC Stanley Benson
Sgt Laura Moon
PC Charlie Constable
Special Constable TimothyGorse
PC Tom Potter (“none hotter”)
WPC Gloria Passworthy