28 July 2005 | silverscreen888
One of The Most Amusing, Involving Comedies Ever; Very-Well Acted
The most successful British film of its original year, 1959, and an equally successful release in the United States, "Carry On Nurse" began as a play by Patrick Cargill and Jack Searle. Part of the appeal of this infectious comedy I assert lies in the complexity of the interwoven story-lines which have been invented for it. Little wonder exists why it spawned so many imitations and a "Carry On" series that has lasted decades since this, the first of the line. The film concerns very anti-Establishment attitudes by the male patients in a British hospital. Then there are the separate stories of the gentlemen trapped under Matron's tyrannical thumb, each with his own visitor or visitors, hopes, complaints, problems, history, purpose and timetable. Finally, there are the nurses, ranging in experience from the inept newcomers to the poised and competent senior staff members. A charming, and sometimes surprising, camaraderie or male bonding develops among the male patients, and the interactions with the nurses range from pursuit to bickering, with the nurses themselves interacting professionally with one another and also personally as human beings. The main storyline is hard to pin down, but never hard-to-follow. A reporter with appendicitis is wooing a pretty nurse, a rising boxer has broken his hand during a successful bout, a man with a large family worries about them, a confirmed bachelor finds himself attracting a lovely young girl, and a cantankerous Colonel irritates Matron and the entire staff; etc., etc. The flavor of the film is very realistic, which allows touches of bawdy humor, wry commentary and dialogue byplay to develop out of the regimen that is stifling patients, burdening nurses and making Matron grimly happy. The ward has rogues, a dilettante who listens to music and conducts wearing 'headphones', malcontents and grumblers, the friendly and the bored. The film was directed by Gerald Thomas from an adaptation of the original play done by Norman Hudis and Jack Beale. Cinematography was done by Reginald H. Wyer with art direction by Alex Vichinsky, both contributing to a realistic style that becomes more than style alone. Joan Ellacott was in charge of costumes and original music was supplied by Bruce Mongomery. The entire cast were well-chosen for their parts. Terence Longdon as the reporter pursues Shirley Eaton, Kenneth Connor is the boxer, Charles Hawtrey, Bill Owen, Norman Rossington play other patients; Hattie Jacques makes a wonderful Matron, Leslie Phillips the rogue, Joan Sims a ditsy young nurse, Susan Stephen a delightfully down-to-earth staff member. Wlfird Hyde-White is properly irritating as the fussy Colonel, with Susan Shaw, Irene Handly, Jill Ireland, Michael Medwin and Rosalind Knight taking other featured roles. The comedic highlight of the film is a surrealistic revolt by some of the patients high on 'laughing gas'. But all turns out well; and this deservedly popular film, whose humor ranges from classic dialogue subtlety to lavatory levels remains in the mind as a classic of its sort--whatever it is--long after Matron has completed her rounds and discovered her nurses' revenge on the obnoxious Colonel which closes the frequently-hilarious proceedings.