Carry On Spying ★★★

Bond-a-thon - Bond B-Sides

Desmond Simpkins: Oh, Vienna! Lovely! I've always wanted to see Vienna before I die.
The Chief: With a bit of luck, you'll do both.

Who thought the Carry On team would be so ahead of the curve? A Bond spoof from them was a given, but I was very surprised that it was made only two years after Dr No and aping the From Russia With Love cover. Not that it just takes pot shots at Bond. Anyone who has seen The Third Man will smile as soon as the zither score kicks in during the Vienna sequences. There also nods to Casablanca and Modesty Blaise.

Any Carry On film without Sid James always feels like a more ensemble effort to me. I really like the cast in this one. Kenneth Williams in a rare leading role, plays bottom of the barrel Secret Agent Simpkins of the British Intelligence. After a top secret formula is stolen by STENCH (Society for the Total Extinction of Non-Conforming Humans), Simpkins and three misfit trainees (Bernard Cribbins, Barbara Windsor and Charles Hawtrey) are sent to retrieve it, before it falls into the hands of the Dr. No rhyming Dr. Crow.

Carry On Spying, the last black and white Carry On film, is definitely one of my preferred Carry On films. It's not long after they hit colour, that they mostly became bawdy farces. Carry On Spying is a pleasant lightweight spy spoof. A lot more gentle than the films to come.

Much of the comedy has dated, some of it will make you cringe but I still laughed a few times too. Like the best spoofs it ruffled feathers. Albert R. Broccoli, the producer of the James Bond film series, objected to the character name "James Bind agent 006½" (intended for Charles Hawtrey) and threatened legal action. One of the earliest Bond spoofs and blazed the trail for Austin Powers and other spoofs further down the line. Enjoyable but very much of its time.