Frankie Howerd dons a toga here for a film version of his TV series based on the life of Roman slave Lurcio.
There are gorgeous maidens soaking in the traditional bath of asses milk; Roman groupies; and revealing mix-ups in the Ladies’ section of the Turkish baths with much towel-dropping.
Lurcio has to contend with organising an orgy for his master, Senator Ludicrus Sextus (Michael Hordern) and the eruption of the nearby volcano, Vesuvius.
He also becomes hopelessly involved in a plot to assassinate Emperor Nero (Patrick Cargill) after overhearing a scheme in which the beautiful Voluptua (Julie Ege) will seduce Ludicrus and will then be discovered in the act by her husband who will kill Ludicrus.
The faithful Lurcio disguises himself and nobly takes his master’s place and it is he who is “caught in the act” and thrown in the dungeon from which he is only released to do battle with giant wrestler Gorgo the Terrible (Bernard Bresslaw) for Nero’s entertainment.
Unfortunately, the blatantly obvious Carry On-style formula (the film is based on an idea by Carry On screenwriter Talbot Rothwell) only works sporadically.
The humour is forced, but Howerd’s delivery is impeccable, even if it’s all a bit too desperate in its bid to appeal to the adults. There’s more interest in trying to put names to the plethora of familiar British faces in the cast.
Frankie Howerd is joined by experienced laugh-raisers Bill Fraser, Roy Hudd and Lance Percival. Adding feminine spice to the Pompeii scandals are Julie Ege, Barbara Murray, Madeline Smith and Adrienne Posta plus several more deliciously underclad lovelies who contribute to “orgies hot as mustard and plots thick as custard”.
Gorgo the Terrible