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Film / Carry On Cowboy

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"I know it's the Wild West, but this is ridiculous!".
Marshal P. Knutt watching a Cat Fight between Belle, Annie and Dolores.

Carry On Cowboy is a 1965 film and the eleventh in the Carry On series starring Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, and Angela Douglas.

It is based on the fictional depictions of The Wild West, starring Johnny Finger, the Rumpo Kid (James), who arrives at Stodge City. After gunning down several innocents, including Sheriff Albert Earp (Jon Pertwee), he takes over Belle's Place, previously owned by his current fling, Belle (Sims), and turns it into the Local Hangout for his posse, consisting of Curly (Peter Gilmore), Short (Simon Cain) and later Charlie the bartender (Percy Herbert) becoming his right-hand man. While many locals are on Rumpo's side, such as greedy undertaker Josh Moses (Davy Kaye), the Mayor, Judge Burke (Williams), and his friends Doc (Peter Butterworth) and Colonel Sam Houston (Sydney Bromley) are horrified at the developments. After failing to get rid of Rumpo themselves, Judge Burke sends for a US Peace Marshal to try and end Rumpo's reign of terror.

Unfortunately, an Englishman named Marshal P. Knutt (Dale) - a drainage, sanitation and garbage disposal engineer, first class - is mistaken for a marshal, and sent to Stodge City to sort out Rumpo, where along the way he meets Annie Oakley (Douglas), who is on her way to avenge the death of her father, Sheriff Earp. Rumpo begins scheming to kill Marshal, including sending Chief Big Heap (Hawtrey) and his son Little Heap's (Bernard Bresslaw) Native American tribe to attack his stagecoach, trying to have him hung and running him over with a herd of horses. Hilarity Ensues as Marshal "the marshal" has to struggle to take down Rumpo with the help of Judge Burke and Annie, or die trying.

Provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Sort of invoked with Marshal. When ambushed by Big Heap's tribe, Marshal struggles to fire a double-barrel, but bullets seem to be hitting the warriors. It turns out that Annie Oakley is the one firing bullets inside the carriage with pistols that she stored in one of her suitcases.
  • Anachronism Stew
    • Marshal's only on business in the USA because he is waiting to discuss the sewage system business in the country, but there weren't any sewage systems in the Wild West, or manhole covers, which he uses in order to talk to Rumpo.
    • Washington D.C. looks like it's in the current (the 1960s) era.
  • The Bartender: Charlie, who eventually becomes one of the Rumpo Kid's henchmen. Then he's shot dead three times by accident through Annie Oakley's Rumpo trap.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: When Rumpo overhears Belle talking about Annie Oakley's constant questioning over Earp's death, he immediately marches towards her room, snapping that he hates when "women ask awkward questions", and claims that he'll "have her out on her fat" bottom. But the moment he walks in, his mind immediately changes when he discovers that this Annie Oakley is young and attractive (and naked in her bubble bath).
  • Berserk Button: Marshal accidentally shoots Big Heap's bottle of whiskey, the Chief makes his tribe retreat from the battle in anger.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Annie Oakley is a sweet young girl... who has come to Stodge City to avenge the death of her father, Sheriff Earp, by any means necessary.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Little Heap (the towering Bernard Bresslaw) and Big Heap (the much smaller Charles Hawtrey).
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Belle's introduction is shooting Rumpo's glass of whiskey to pieces as he puts it to his lips.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Sheriff Albert Earp - although he is not really much better with them on.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Big Heap's tribe are all dressed in this way, while Rumpo and Charlie dress like this in order to meet them.
  • Brownface: Charles Hawtrey as Chief Big Heap, and Bernard Bresslaw as Little Heap.
  • The Cameo: Jon Pertwee as the soon-murdered Sheriff Albert Earp.
  • The Casanova: The United States County Commissioner, who is seen making out with his secretary Miss Jones when Perkins, his adviser, walks in.
  • Cat Fight: Upon waiting for the Rumpo Kid to storm in the bedroom, Marshal is surprisingly visited by a flirtatious Belle, a distressed Annie and Dolores, a prostitute that's sent as a distraction by Rumpo. One by one, they hide as the door knocks in fear of the visitor being an angry Rumpo, but they immediately discover another woman in their place, giving them the impression that the other is trying to court Marshal, and sets them off into a three-way catfight.
  • Character Title: When the movie was released in Germany, it was retitled The Rumpo Kid.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Belle, who becomes rather suspicious when she eavesdrops on Rumpo's conversation with Annie, after he'd threatened to have her thrown out.
  • Cowboy: The film revolves around Johnny Finger (better known as "the Rumpo Kid"), a notorious outlaw who comes to Stodge City to rob banks, rustle cattle and drink hard.
  • Cowboy Episode: The usual Carry On hijinks in The Wild West.
  • Daddy's Girl: Annie Oakley. The moment she hears of Sheriff Earp's death (suspecting it to be murder), she boards the next coach to Stodge City to avenge his death.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Judge Burke picks up the dying Sheriff Earp at the bottom of the stairs. It isn't as tear-jerking as one expects because the dying Sherrif can't hear a word of Judge Burke without his hearing aid.
  • Dope Slap: Belle does this to Rumpo when he cannot read the signs that she is jealous of his sudden attention to Annie.
  • Ethical Slut: Annie flaunts herself at Rumpo after meeting him in order to learn about Sheriff Earp's death. This makes Rumpo admit that he shot him.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Rumpo has the hots for Belle, and then Annie Oakley.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: When the Commissioner is told that Judge Burke is needing a peace marshal in the town, he points out that he remembers him from when they both met up in law school.
    President advisor Perkins: I never knew you went to law school.
    US Commissioner: [uncomfortably] I didn't. I was the janitor.
  • Everything is Big in Texas: Belle admires the Rumpo Kid's guns:
    Belle: My, but you got a big one!
    The Rumpo Kid: I'm from Texas, ma'am. We all got big ones down there.
  • Genre Blindness: Despite the tales of Rumpo's behaviour, when Marshal meets him in person, he believes Rumpo's nice-guy facade and doesn't become suspicious.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance:
    • Belle, with a Smoking Gun in her hand.
    • Annie Oakley when she sings "This is the Night for Love".
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Annie Oakley is an devoted daughter and helps train Marshal to take down the Rumpo Kid to avenge her father, Sheriff Earp, and because she wants the man she loves to be safe.
  • Handicapped Badass: Sheriff Earp, who is both visually-impaired and deaf. Even though he is killed minutes after appearing on screen, it's implied that both he (and perhaps Judge Burke) single-handedly began gun control, and lowered crime rates in Stodge City.
  • Hidden Depths: Annie Oakley proves herself to be a talented singer when she performs "This is the Night for Love" when trying to seduce Rumpo.
  • Historical Domain Character: Annie Oakley and her father Sheriff Earp.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: Annie Oakley's trap to kill Rumpo. She ties about three guns to the doorknob and handle of a nearby wardrobe and waits behind her bed with two pistols. It fails and shoots Charlie the bartender instead.
    Annie Oakley: Oh, I'm terribly sorry! I... I thought you were someone else.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Marshal, pretending to be a peace marshal, is supposed to be hunting Rumpo and his gang, but his lack of fighting skills makes him an easy target for Rumpo to hunt him out and hopefully get rid of him for good.
  • Impact Silhouette: After using dynamite to rescue Big Heap from prison, his son Little Heap is blown up too. The only thing left behind is the shape of his body in the ceiling.
  • Ironic Name: Chief Big Heap, when compared to his towering son Little Heap.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: Catching Rumpo and his gang trying to rescue Big Heap, Marshal marches into the prison cell and interrogates them. When he's done, he orders them to get into the prison cell - not realizing that that's outside. They do, and lock him in.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Little Heap is Ax-Crazy towards the white men whereas his father Big Heap welcomes them with open arms.
  • Lovable Coward: Judge Burke and Doc who'd rather let Marshal deal with the Rumpo Kid than let themselves come into harm's way.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The gunslinging Annie Oakley to the naïve Marshal P. Knutt.
  • Mistaken Death Confirmation: Following another encounter with the Rumpo Kid, Marshal P. Knutt collapses and is declared dead by Doc after checking his pulse, only for Marshal to wake up while Josh the undertaker is measuring him for a casket. Judge Burke immediately calls out Doc, who can't understand what went wrong until he realises that it was his watch that had stopped, not Marshal's heart.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Marshal (a sanitation engineer) is mistaken for an actual US Marshal who might be able to help defend the town against the Rumpo Kid.
  • Mummy's Boy: Marshal is seen kissing a photo of his mother before he goes to bed. It is standing on his bedside table.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: We never find out what Marshal's "P" stands for.
  • Naked First Impression: Rumpo walks in on Annie having her bath and immediately falls for her.
  • Nice Girl: Annie Oakley is a nice girl, despite wanting to avenge her father's death.
  • Nice Guy: Marshal, for definite. Even though he's suspicious of Rumpo and his gang, he is still polite.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A common theme with Judge Burke:
    • If he hadn't laughed in the Rumpo's face about a peace marshal being sent to the town from Washington, Rumpo wouldn't be expecting one to turn up or create a plan to try and stop them.
    • If his greediness hadn't got the better of him (even though it was only over 25 cents), Rumpo would've stayed out of Stodge City and would've never found out that he was chased out of the town by an English sanitation expert.
  • Noble Savage: Sent up. Chief Big Heap is not only cleverer than most of the settlers (he clears out Rumpo's Place by yelling about a gold strike, and everyone charges out despite not knowing where they're going) but speaks using a posh British accent.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Annie uses this trope to worm her way into finding out who killed her father. (It also plays into the fact that she is female and blonde.) She pretends that Marshal is the killer of three Native Americans who were trying to attack their carriage because no one would expect a poor defenseless girl like her to do something like that. Naturally, everyone is amazed when she shoots Marshal out of his prison cell.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Marshal briefly, when Rumpo's gang blow up the jail entrance and lock him inside.
  • Peace Pipe: Big Heap offers one to Rumpo and Charlie, and the two of them share it. Rumpo nearly chokes on it and Big Heap refuses his turn, claiming that he's trying to stop smoking.
  • Period Piece: The film takes place sometime between the early 19th century and the early 20th century.
  • Perma-Stubble: Most of Rumpo's gang have light five o'clock shadows:
    • Curly's is narrowly close to light beard.
    • Rumpo's isn't as noticeable, but he mentions that he'd shave more often in order to have Annie Oakley as his lover, implying that he probably does have this in many appearances.
  • Plot Hole: Despite Big Heap claiming that Marshal shot three of his braves, four were shown to have been shot previously.
  • Punny Name:
  • Road Apples: A Deleted Scene had Marshal step in a cowpat.
    Marshal: Dirty moocows!
  • Rule of Three: A drunken man is thrown out of the bar three times. The third time is by Belle.
    Belle: That'll teach you to come in here and ask me for a quick one.
  • The Rustler: Rumpo's gang spend most of the night sneaking out to fields and stealing bullocks from Colonel Houston.
  • The Savage Indian: Little Heap is obsessed with scalping enemies' heads.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Marshal calls for the town to rally together to get Rumpo's gang out. The crowd has disappeared before he finished his first sentence.
  • Sexy Secretary: Miss Jones, the US Commissioner's secretary, a lisping Dumb Blonde.
  • The Sheriff: Sherrif Albert Earp, although his deafness and bad eyesight make him a rather useless one.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Annie rescues Marshal from his prison cell this way.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The city's name is Stodge, similar to the one named Dodge from the 1939 film Dodge City, as well as Winchester '73.
    • The Rumpo Kid's name is a reference to the Ringo Kid.
    • The previous Marshal in Stodge City was named Dillon, apparently.
      US Commissioner: Send him a Marshal. Anything for peace.
      Perkins: That's just the trouble, sir. We haven't any available.
      US Commissioner: Nobody? What about that big head who's always hanging around here looking for work? What's his name? Dillon. What's he doing?
      Perkins: Six months.
    • The finale is a showdown at High Noon, but with a twist.
  • Showdown at High Noon: How Rumpo chooses to run Marshal out of town. Lampshaded as a cliché by Marshal and Burke:
    Marshal P. Knutt: High Noon? Why High Noon?
    Mayor Judge Burke: I know! I told them that it was unoriginal too!
  • Skewed Priorities: Judge Burke is kidnapped by the Rumpo Kid's gang and ridden on horseback to their lair, but is much more annoyed that they ordered him out of his bed and didn't allow him to change into something comfortable.
    Judge Burke: [after being asked how he was] You obviously have never been ordered out of your bed at gunpoint and not being allowed to put your SLIPPERS ON!! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW PAINFUL IT IS TO RIDE A HORSE BAREFOOT?! IT HURTS!!!
  • Smug Snake: Burt the stagecoach guard comes across as this towards Marshal. When Marshal assumes that the Native Americans aren't a threat to anyone, followed by an arrow stabbing the other guard, the smug one gives him an "I told you so" look.
  • Tagline: "How the west was lost!".
  • Those Two Guys: Big Heap and Little Heap.
  • The Trope Kid: Johnny Finger is better known as "the Rumpo Kid".
  • Undertaker: Josh Moses, one of Rumpo's biggest supporters if only because of all the business Rumpo's murders were giving him.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Belle keeps a derringer in her cleavage.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: The Rumpo Kid is on a wanted poster on the door of Sheriff Earp's office. Not once does anyone look at it to check who's the true villain.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Big Heap is broken out of prison by the Rumpo Kid's gang but they are caught and banished to the woods by Marshal. He is implied to have spent at least a week in a drunken coma with the group before being eventually released by Rumpo and disappearing out of the movie. That's fine, but did anyone tell him that his son Little Heap died during the break out?
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Just where the hell is Stodge City? The movie doesn't say what US state the city is located. It appears to be near an area where Native American tribes live in peace. They manage to get information from Washington DC very quickly, which might mean that Stodge City is located in New England (most likely before the states were materialized). But if Rumpo rode from Texas to any of these states, it probably wouldn't have taken him ten days. note 
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The plot of the movie seems to have similar connections to Destry Rides Again. Both stories have a character that has been promoted as a no-nonsense badass that would intimidate even the most terrifying person in the world, but then arrive as the complete opposite and are mocked by the biggest crime-bosses as wimps that don't believe in violence. The rest of the movie follows them trying to be taken seriously, as well as a smug rival who uses their presence as a distraction to commit crimes on the outskirts of the small town.
  • You No Take Candle: How Little Heap speaks English. Big Heap, his father, speaks perfect English, but will relapse back into this trope when drunk.


Video Example(s):


This is the Night for Love

Annie Oakley sings to the crowded saloon, and quickly turns it into a chance to flirt with notorious outlaw Johnny Finger, the Rumpo Kid, much to the jealousy of Belle Armitage.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SerenadeYourLover

Media sources: