The fourth Carry On with a hospital background, and the 23rd in the series, concerns a plot by petty criminals Sid James, Kenneth Cope and Bernard Bresslaw to rob the local maternity hospital of contraceptive pills and sell them abroad.
For Sid’s gang to gain entry to the hospital, his son Cyril (Cope) has to pose as a nurse.
Naturally, Cope attracts the attention of sex-mad doctor, Terry Scott. Having bluffed his way past Gwendolyn Watts on reception, Cope bumps into sexy nurse Barbara Windsor who discovers his true identity, tosses in a tongue-in-cheek reference about being a ‘gangster’s moll!’ and evokes a priceless shocked expression from Sid as the two ‘nurses’ are caught in a passionate embrace.
Taking on elements from The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), Too Many Crooks (1959) and a score of second feature British crime thrillers, Sid James strolls effortlessly through his part, with the merest of raised eyebrows and chuckling comment enough to get his belly laughs.
The scenes of the gang’s robbery plans are juxtaposed with various flights of fancy with the three principal authority figures at Finesham hospital: Hattie Jacques as the endearingly cynical Matron, Kenneth Williams as the overtly eye-popping, hypochondriac surgeon and Charles Hawtrey as the absent-minded psychiatrist.
This trio of Carry On legends simply camp around the hospital, mugging wonderfully to lesser characters and the camera, and have a whale of a time with the ancient comic dialogue.
The patients in this film are even less important than in Carry On Again Doctor (1969).
Although several expectant mums arrive and have their babies (notably Valerie Leon and Madeline Smith), they are simply the source of a quick one-liner or just a plot device.
Only one genuine expectant mother is given any sort of screen time and that’s ever-eating, ever-complaining Joan Sims, who spends the film lying in bed, devouring sausages and tomatoes and faking birth pangs to avoid induced labour.
It’s a fairly minor supporting turn but delivered beautifully, with belittled railway worker Kenneth Connor the ultimate in anxious expectant husbands.
The bumbling gang of crooks muff the operation but avoid the long arm of the law, Cope and Windsor get together and the on-off romantic relationship between Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques that had stretched back to Carry On Doctor (1968) finally ends in wedding bells.
Sir Bernard Cutting
Dr Francis A Goode
Nurse Susan Ball