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Down Wiv 'Em!
Released in 1971, Carry On At Your Convenience has the unfortunate distinction of the being the first film in the series to not be a success at the box-office. In fact, it took at least five years after initial release for Convenience to break even. Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course; the core Carry On audience consisted of everyday working class folk, many of whom were members of the very same type of trade unions that the film went out of its way to lampoon.
Nowadays, Carry On At Your Convenience is regarded as a classic entry in the series and rightly so. Apart perhaps from Camping, Convenience sums up the glorious world of Carry On more than any other film. Crammed full of wonderfully juicy double-entendres and evoking memories of 'kiss me quick' type holidays at the British seaside with its scenes of the gang letting rip on Brighton pier, it seems At Your Convenience could be called the ultimate Carry On.
If I personally had to choose one moment from any of the series to best sum up what the Carry Ons were all about, it would have to be the uproariously funny scene from At Your Convenience, set in the canteen of W.C.Boggs & Son as union rep Vic Spanner (Kenneth Cope) tries to persuade his fellow workers to join him in another official strike. After the resolve of the male members of the workforce weakens upon hearing that "the Rovers are playing at home this afternoon", it is up to Chloe Moore (the ever-wonderful Joan Sims) to prick the pomposity of Spanner with some quick-witted, saucy put-downs.
As Spanner's slow-witted but likeable friend Bernie (Bernard Bresslaw) dutifully shouts "Down wiv 'em!" at every opportunity, the group is soon joined by manager Lewis Boggs (Richard O'Callaghan) and works foreman Sid Plumber (Sid James). It is when Sid enters the fray and begins to spark off Joan Sims that the scene really begins to fire on all cylinders.
The wonderful chemistry between these two Carry On giants is never more evident than in At Your Convenience, particularly during this scene as they take turns in firing off cheeky one-liners to the delight of the rest of the workforce and us viewers. Watching this piece back, it seems as if the entire cast present are genuinely enjoying the moment. For the sheer amount of classic gags shoe-horned in by Talbot Rothwell, delivered impeccably by Sid James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Cope and Bernard Bresslaw, this scene from the canteen is undoubtedly one of the best in Carry On history.