They Put The Bloody Glass In!
Filmed and released in 1972, Carry On Abroad is probably the last of the great Carry On pictures. It is certainly the final film in the series to feature such a large amount of regulars in the cast and the removal of Charles Hawtrey from the team, after filming was completed, certainly had a detrimental effect on subsequent Carry On releases. Watching Abroad now, it's almost as if everyone involved knew the writing was on the wall as far as the future of the series was concerned so, if that were to be the case, wanted to go out with a bang!
The farewell party that hotel manager Pepe (or is it Mario?) throws for the guests on their last night in Els Bels is the catalyst for one of the great moments in Carry On history. Despite the holiday being a disaster for everyone involved, Pepe is determined to give the holidaymakers a night to remember, much to the consternation of his wife Floella; "Now he's the Richard Burton of Els Bels!" she cries caustically.
After a dull start, the celebrations really get into full swing when the rather innocuous champagne punch is spiced up considerably by the addition of Santa Cecilia's Elixir, a local concoction for "making plenty of passion!" It isn't long before everyone is happily dancing and singing, the potent potion even having an affect on the group of missionaries led by Brother Martin, who later admits to not being able to sing Twas On the Good Ship Venus because he doesn't know the 'music',
As the end of the evening approaches, various couples start to make their way back up to their rooms, the amorous effect of the elixir still strong. Looking for a bit of fresh air in their room, Cora (Joan Sims) asks husband Vic (Sid James) to open the balcony doors. With the doors stuck, Vic remembers from earlier in the week that there is no actual glass in the doors and that you can step straight through the frame. Wrong! The builders have since put glass in.
It is the wonderful interplay between Sid James and Joan Sims that turns this scene from simply funny to completely hysterical. Next time you watch it, just try to catch a glimpse of Sid's face as he smashes through the glass. It's priceless! As he drunkenly staggers back in the room, Sid's immortal delivery of the line "They put the bloody glass in!" is played out against the background of Joan's infectious, hysterical laughter. It is the kind of laughter that is impossible to ignore and you, as the viewer, just have to join in.
Sid James and Joan Sims always sparked off each other wonderfully on-camera and were firm friends off-set too. This scene in particular shows the warmth of that real-life camaraderie as they laugh uncontrollably together and take it in turns to fire off jokes about squeezing into a single bed. "Room for one on top!" screeches Joan, before Sid retorts with "Standing room only!"
In lesser hands, the scene could have felt a little forced but it is obvious that Sid and Joan had genuine affection for each other and loved working together; the laughter from them both comes across as completely real here. As the hotel crumbles around them and the roof above tears open and drenches them in water, Joan puts up an umbrella and says to Sid "You're not getting off all that easily!" We, as viewers, do not get off easily either - from laughing uproariously at these two giants of British comedy.