14 June 2004 | imprator
Not A Real Carry On Film, But OK
Some years ago I saw Carry On England, and was appalled. It was utterly unfunny, execrable, sleazy drivel. (You guessed it I didn't like it!) It also bore no relation at all to the previous Carry On films.
I had assumed that England was the last of the original series, and was surprised to see Carry On Emmannuelle recently listed in the TV schedules. Given the unadulterated rubbish that was the previous film, I had intended to give Emmannuelle a miss but decided to record it just to take a look.
When I came to watch the film, I did so with my finger poised over the Erase button. But I was pleasantly surprised; the Erase button remained untouched. No, it's not a great film, or even very good, but it is OK. It is quite funny overall, and occasionally very funny indeed.
I also found the film to be extremely sexy. This is quite an achievement for a silly comedy, and is entirely due to Suzanne Danielle in the title role. She is simply stunning, with a magnificent body. But more than this, she plays the part with a charming innocence hard to achieve when her character is engaged in promiscuous sexual acts (and frequently disrobed) throughout the movie. On the strength of her performance here (aged just 21) it is hard to understand why her career never really took off. Perhaps her appearance in this silly film marked her, or possibly her heart wasn't really in it (she left acting permanently when she married in 1988). Whatever, in this film she shines she IS the film, and I found her more attractive, appealing and sexy than Sylvia Kristel ever was in the real Emmanuelle.
Some members of the old Carry On cast appear in this film, but only Kenneth Williams has a significant role. The others are really just part of the scenery. This is appropriate, since the film really has no place in the Carry On series. The original films (Carry On England excepted) were funny, joyful affairs. Innuendo and double entendres were famously rife, but were mild and included in an innocent, fun manner. There was never any overt sex or nudity on show. Emmannuelle, in marked contrast, is a film that is entirely centred on sex. Both sex and nudity are blatant and frequent. The nudity is mild, the sex never graphic (and more implied than depicted) but this film is nevertheless VERY different from previous offerings in the series. Innuendo has become statement of fact, double entendres are now bald sexual comments, and the script is far less clever.
Carry On Emmannuelle was obviously an attempt to update the series, a response to the changing mores of the movie (and real) world. It can realistically be characterised as a soft-porn comedy. As such, I feel that an enormous amount has been lost and nothing gained. The old films were clever, and they were fun. Not great contributions to the world of cinema, but hugely enjoyable. They have become a part of British life, discovered anew by succeeding generations, and of fond remembrance to adults who found them as children and enjoy dipping into them again occasionally when they appear on television. Carry On Emmannuelle will never achieve this status.
It's a pity. If the producers had made a film in the old mould perhaps the series could have continued. Or perhaps not. Possibly the original films were products of their time, and by 1978 their time had passed. Perhaps audiences enjoyed the re-runs of the old films on television, but wouldn't have paid to go to the cinema to see a new film in the same genre. Still, I would like to have seen the attempt made. As it is, the series ended with Emmannuelle. It had to. The film just wasn't good enough to garner a new audience, and was so far removed from the earlier films that the old audience were never going to transfer to the new film.
Carry On Emmannuelle is best viewed entirely apart from the previous films. There really is no connection to the series other than the reappearance of some of the same actors. Next to the old films, it is lost in a fog of disappointment and shock at what became of the series. However, judged as an entirely separate film I can say that I quite enjoyed it. It is far from outstanfding, but I found it more enjoyable than the average film. Eighty eight minutes were spent quite happily, and never dragged.
I fully understand why others might hold a very different opinion. The film is far less than the originals, and many who happily watch those films with their family will be appalled at the sexual content and nudity. If mild nudity and sexual content offend you, I recommend that you avoid the film entirely. Otherwise, why not take a look for yourself? (If nothing else, if you are male you will certainly enjoy Suzanne Danielle!)
If you do watch this film, please be sure to cast thoughts of other Carry On films from your mind and enjoy this silly but entertaining film on its own merits. Like me, you may quite enjoy the blend of mild sexual content and comedy on offer.
Rating - 6.5 / 10