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Film / Carry On Jack

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"What's all this jigging in the rigging?"
Captain Fearless before being told of a Spanish ship sighting.

Carry On Jack is a 1963 film and the eighth in the Carry On series starring Kenneth Williams, Bernard Cribbins, Juliet Mills, Charles Hawtrey, Donald Houston, and Guest Star Cecil Parker - one of the most obscure casts in a Carry On as only Williams and Hawtrey were regulars, Cribbins only appeared in two more after this, and Mills, Houston and Parker were never used again.

This movie is set in the years post-Battle of Trafalgar, where Admiral Horatio Nelson (Jimmy Thompson) was killed. On his deathbed, he demands to have a bigger navy with better naval ships, right before he says his famous last words of "kiss me" to Hardy (Anton Rodgers). With the Royal Navy being rather successful in many naval wars many years later, and managing to get into a war with the French and the Spaniards, keen mild-mannered sailor Albert Poop-Decker (Cribbins) is promoted in the navy to midshipman by the First Sea Lord (Parker), despite his lack of experience and his time training unsuccessfully for over 8½ years.

Assigned to board the ship Venus in the morning, Albert stays in a seaside inn where he is mugged for his clothes by the beautiful inn employee Sally (Mills), who intends to find her long-lost childhood crush Roger (Peter Gilmore) on one of the maiden voyages. Then the grumpy Lieutenant Jonathan Howett (Houston) and his gang of press-gangers shanghai Albert and clueless cesspit cleaner Walter Sweetley (Hawtrey) onto the ship Venus, which is led by the blithering Captain Fearless (Williams).

With no proof of being assigned onto the ship, and the disguised Sally using her witty tactics to stay undercover, Albert and Walter experience the hardships of being a part of the British Royal Navy. Hilarity Ensues.

Tropes Included:

  • Accidental Hero: The heroes manage to foil the villains twice completely by accident. The first time Albert fires a cannon at Ceriz which manages to knock out Lt. Howett. The second time the armada is defeated by cannons set off by fire from the burning ship. The main characters are completely unaware, as they were below deck.
  • Action Girl: Sally in a way, even though she's disguised as a midshipman that doesn't do much of the manual labour — and she doesn't do much fighting, but it's implied that she does do most of the work once she and the three men regain control over the Venus (CPT Fearless is injured with a splinter in his foot, Walter mostly runs around confused and Albert regains his identity as the true Albert Poop-Decker.
  • Actual Pacifist: Although being a powerful leader of a naval ship, Fearless doesn't want to cause any trouble with the enemy and appears to be reluctant at times to be at war with parts of Europe.
    CPT Fearless: We don't want to cause any tension with the French, now we're at war with them and the Spanish.
  • Advertised Extra: Despite playing an incredibly small part in the film, the back of the DVD in "The Classic Carry On Film Collection" boxset lists Jim Dale with the rest of the film's stars due to Dale later becoming a starring member of the main Carry On team.
  • Affectionate Parody: This movie was made because the movies Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and other 18th century naval films had been released a few years before.
  • Afraid of Blood: Not necessarily blood, but when Fearless is informed that the unconscious people on his ship are supposedly dead during the fake mutiny, he shrieks in terror. He also faints when Albert gives him the head of a mannequin.
  • Agony of the Feet: Fearless spends most of the movie with a splinter in his toe.
  • All Cloth Unravels: During Albert's punishment, the man in charge of beating him pulls at a thread on the vest, leading to him getting tangled in Albert's vest threads. The rest of the crew are crying with laughter.
  • All Men Are Perverts: The sailors on Roger's ship, who get excited when Sally loses her disguise.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Walter's glasses are from 1948.
    • There are several references to sovereigns - coins that wouldn't be issued until 1820.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Captain Fearless has his lower leg amputated. The ending shows him with a wooden leg.
  • Armed Farces: True to form for the Carry On films, the Royal Navy of Carry On Jack is filled with all sorts of bungling fools, cowards, and ne'er-do-wells — a captain who is perpetually seasick and thus shies away from any sort of fighting, a midshipman who has taken eight-or-so years just to get to the lowest rung on the officer ladder, and a press gang victim who couldn't handle himself in a rowboat on a pond, never mind a frigate in the Royal Navy.
  • Art Imitates Art: The opening shot is a recreation of the famous painting The Death of Nelson, 21 October 1805 by Arthur William Devis.
  • Artistic License Ships: Several sailors and pirates wear shoes on board when in reality they should have been barefoot to make it easier to traverse wet decks and climb the rigging.
  • Ash Face: Some of the crew get this when a failed cannon blows up because the end gets bunged up.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Mr Angel doesn't show any reaction or hesitation over agreeing to Howett's crazy ideas and just goes along with it regardless.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Howett, for definite. He only wants to get Fearless out of the way so that he could fight the Spanish Armada and hopefully win the war and doesn't hesitate to try and make the Spanish government surrender at gunpoint.
    • The crew on the Venus, become very excited when they find out that Howett is captain after the night before's fake mutiny.
  • Boarding Party: Roger's crew swing onto the Venus (due to Fearless' ignorance and naivety) and sink their boat soon after.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: The fierce Lieutenant Howett is the blithering, yet harmless Captain Fearless' second-in-command.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the Training Montage, Walter, and Albert are taught how to sew under the bellowing eye of Mr Angel. This comes in handy when the gang have to amputate CPT Fearless' infected foot.
  • Chromosome Casting: Unusually for a Carry On, Sally is the only prominent female character in the film.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Walter, as usual for Charles Hawtrey's characters in the Carry On films.
    Lieutenant J Howett: How would you like to go out to sea, friend?
    Walter Sweetly: How would I like to go out to see what?
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Some of the British sailors when they get out of the lifeboats and climb a Spanish cliff to the mainland.
  • Different for Girls: Albert tries to get Sally to get out of her disguise by claiming that he has a mole on his penis, but Sally manages to dismiss this claim and keep her disguise by claiming that she had no mole there. Captain Fearless and Lieutenant Howett are stupid enough to not investigate further into the accusation.
  • Disguised in Drag: Sally for definite.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Howett's failed ambush of the Spanish government lands him and the entire crew in the capital's prison. When the prison guards and the Spanish leader visit them, the British attack them and leave in their outfits. Strangely, they are seen working for the enemy a few days later, questioning whether they actually got away with what they did, or whether they were captured soon after.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Howett, probably taking after the angry CPT Potts from Carry On, Sergeant.
  • Ethical Slut: In a way with Sally, who teases Albert into having a night of passion in order to steal his clothes.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Howett wants to get rid of Fearless for good, but he chooses to act out a mutiny instead of sneaking into Fearless' room when he's asleep and killing him.
  • Fainting: Captain Fearless does this before the battle.
  • Faking the Dead: The mutiny is just a lot of sailors lying around, pretending to be dead.
  • Foreshadowing: In his confused state, Fearless tells the group that he never wanted to be a sailor and was desperate to retire and get a job in an office. Guess what he the First Sea Lord gives promotes him to in the last scene?
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: After Fearless' departure, the entire crew cheers with delight. Turns out it was not only Howett that didn't like the captain.
  • Genre Blindness:
    • After telling Sally that he's a sailor, Albert isn't suspicious that she immediately invites him into one of the inn rooms, even though she looked like was inches away from throwing him out.
    • Not once is Fearless suspicious that a lone boat is floating around the ocean with no sign of British sailors on board, and immediately thinks that it's the boat of an ally. The rest of the crew aren't convinced, but follow his orders anyway.
  • Good-Looking Privates: Albert. The moment he turns up in the inn, all of the maids that were flirting with the customers rush over to him, trying to get his attention, terrifying him.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Sally has blonde hair and, although she steals Albert's clothes and takes his place on the Venus as a midshipman, is only doing so because she's trying to track down her boyfriend, who was press-ganged into the Navy some time earlier; she is otherwise kind-hearted and does feel guilty about tricking Albert. When she discovers her boyfriend has become a pirate captain, she breaks up with him in favour of Albert.
  • Hates Baths: Bizarrely, the entire crew of the Venus — the bizarre thing being a Kenneth Williams character hating bathing, considering how his characters usually want to be proper and sophisticated.
    • When Sally wants to wash, she is mocked mercilessly by everyone on the ship, who purposely make a bath out of a barrel and position it in full view of everyone on the main deck.
    • Also, when noticing a group of Europeans stripping at a beach to skinny-dip, Fearless expresses his disgust over the idea of stripping off and bathing.
  • Hello, Sailor!: Subverted. All the sailors on the boats are portrayed as horny homesick virgins whose eyes light up whenever a woman comes into view. Funnily enough, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams are portrayed as asexual-like kinds.
    • Although, it is sort of implied that there are probably gay soldiers that Fearless is aware about. When catching Albert and the disguised Sally kissing, and then hearing that they've agreed to get married, he doesn't react really outrageously and is more confused than appalled.
  • Hook Hand: Roger's first mate.
  • Ironic Name: Captain Fearless is anything but. Not only does he suffer from chronic seasickness, but he makes any excuse he can think of to avoid actually going into combat, to the mounting frustration of his crew, who eventually mutiny against him. The trailer claims that he can "get seasick sitting on a damp sponge".
  • LadyKiller:
    • The leader of Spain with his implied mistress. Note how flustered he acts when Howett and Mr Angel storm in the room. It's probably not over the intrusion.
    • Walter Sweetly states that he's got nine children when he ends up shanghaied, which might've been guilt-tripping Howett and the rest of the sailing staff, but either implied this trope or something else...
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Fearless' first name isn't revealed to the characters.
    • Mr Angel's first name isn't revealed either. Possibly out of respect, even his partner Howett doesn't call him by his first name.
  • Last Request:
    • Admiral Nelson on his deathbed.
    • Before getting lashed to death, Albert asks whether he can keep his vest on.
    • When about to walk the plank, Walter asks for a demonstration.
  • Market-Based Title: The film was known as Carry On Venus in America.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Albert is caught by Fearless and Walter locking lips with the disguised Sally and is greeted by shocked looks when he announces that they're engaged.
    CPT Fearless: I said I wanted a happy ship, but this is ridiculous!
  • Mugged for Disguise: Sally steals the uniform of Midshipman Albert Poop-Decker and takes his place on the frigate Venus.
  • The Mutiny: Fed up with CPT Fearless' passive attitude to naval duties, Howett and a couple of sailors organize a mutiny that will make the Captain jump ship and leave them in charge. It works like a treat, giving the sailors time to invade Spain and force the government to surrender.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: In a way with Albert, who definitely hikes up to the dork factor along with his sailing knowledge. When Sally locks the door suggestively, he says this:
    Albert Poop-Decker: My mother told me that things like this would happen. I must write and thank her.
  • Never My Fault: In true Kenneth Williams character fashion, when the Ragtag Misfits team realize that Fearless had been reading the map of Europe wrong, he strongly denies that he has and claims that the map's wrong.
  • Nice Girl: Sally is mostly this, despite practically committing fraud, but you can clearly see how ashamed she looks whenever Albert is punished for claiming that she is an impostor. She apologises to him for the abuse when she is found out a liar.
  • Oddball in the Series: The film has a much more serious tone, with almost known of the typical Carry On humour and feeling more like a typical adventure story (probably because it's a loose adaptation of one). The fact that hardly any of the regular castmembers appear doesn't help.
  • One of the Boys: Sally, in a way.
  • Only One Name: Sally and Roger.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: How the men don't see through Sally's disguise as Albert is baffling, considering how she doesn't attempt to put on a gruff voice and has obvious feminine features (CPT Fearless comments on the size of "his" chest a lot and is convinced that "he" didn't need to pad out the bust when "he" slips on a dress as another disguise in France). Notably, when she, Albert, Fearless and Walter are stranded in a rowing boat for a least a week, she stays with a smooth chin whereas everyone else has stubble going-on light beards. This possibly links to the fact that midshipmen in the British Navy were young teenage boys, so she could easily pass for a Pretty Boy.
  • Perma-Shave: Many of the sailors, but to be fair, they're probably assigned with razors that they can choose to use.
    • invoked There is a subversion of this: after escaping the mutiny, Albert, Walter, Fearless and Sally are stranded for days on a tiny raft, to the point that the men on the raft have light stubble. The moment they find land, however, they're as clean-shaven as they were when they left.
    • At the same time as the point above, Howett and the crew are jailed for days in the Spanish government's top security prison with no implication of being released to use the toilet or eat. It's unlikely that they took toiletries when they left Venus.
  • Pirate: Roger's gang, who don't talk like pirates.
  • Plot Hole:
    • No pirate captain would ever sink a seaworthy ship.
    • While the heroes are granted the freedom of the City of London at the end of the film, this shouldn't be possible as the City of London had been independent since the signing of the Magna Carta.
  • Precocious Crush: Sally's attraction to the missing-in-action Roger was because he was the only older person (therefore mature guy) that she knew when she was thirteen.
  • Press-Ganged: Albert and Walter are press-ganged onto the ship.
  • Quirky Curls: When flirting with Albert, Sally points out his curly hair, to which he replies that he got it from his mother.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: During the fake mutiny on the Venus, an unintentional one forms between the cross-dressing Sally, the wimpy Fearless, the absent-minded Walter and the shy Only Sane Man Albert.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn
    • Roger and his gang of pirates don't exactly do all of these things, but they invade the Venus, capture the sailors on it and sink their ship because they "don't need it now", and look really excited once Sally's discovered as an impostor; Roger immediately tries to force himself upon her when she reminds him of where they last met.
    • CPT Fearless' sailors, in a way, unbeknownst to him. When they run him off the ship, they immediately head to Spain to scare the Spaniards into surrendering to the British. Notably, when Mr Angel is ordered to carry the Spanish governor's mistress out of the room by Howett, this exchange happens:
      Mr Angel: What do you want me to do with her after that?
      Lieutenant J Howett: [clearly losing his temper] Mr Angel, how long have you been at sea?
      Mr Angel: About 15 years.
      Lieutenant J Howett: Well, don't ask stupid questions!
  • Recursive Crossdressing: When Fearless' party escapes the naval ship and arrive in where they think is France, Sally as Albert dresses up in the only female disguise that they can find in the pile. Fearless points out that "Albert's" "pecks" can fill out the dress perfectly but doesn't put two and two together.
  • Rule of Three
    • Sally shanghaiing Albert. First time is to mug him of his clothes, the other two times is by accident.
    • Also, the Last Request trope.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Fearless, to add to his wimpy factor.
  • Sex for Services: Sally flirts with Albert in the inn to excite him and knocks him out when he least expects it to steal the clothes.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Albert does this to Fearless' bedroom door during Howett's fake mutiny when he fears for the captain's safety. This wakes Fearless (and Sally from her room down the corridor) up, makes him fall out of bed, and end up with a splinter in his toe.
  • Shout-Out: The page quote and the name of the ship being Venus are references to an old Bawdy Song called "Good Ship Venus (Friggin' in the Riggin')". In the movie's official trailer, a voiceover by Fearless says, "But, on the good ship Venusmy word, you should've seen us!"
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Sally o the missing-in-action Roger. When the naval ship is taken over by bloodthirsty pirates, she finds out that he is the captain and immediately goes off him, and starts becoming attracted to the quiet and polite Albert.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Captain Fearless. Common with Kenneth Williams' characters.
  • Special Guest: Cecil Parker, who appeared in many blockbuster movies at the time, was promoted to And Starring credits — above Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey — and was paid over £20,000 note  when all he did was appear in two scenes that book end the film and had less than ten lines.
  • The Stoic: Mr Angel.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: Sally steals Albert Poop-Decker's uniform and takes his place on the frigate Venus, while Albert finds himself pressganged onto the same ship as a common seaman.
  • Tap on the Head: The navy's way of recruiting people. It happens to Albert twice.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Albert suffers from this punishment for supposed fraud towards Sally (in disguise as him).
  • Thanatos Gambit: Admiral Nelson, trying to make the Navy the best in the world by demanding more men and ships.
  • Those Two Guys: Mr Angel and Lieutenant Howett.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Albert and Walter, when Sally surrenders to Roger's threats. Walter catapults Albert away from the crowd without considering the consequences, and Albert gains the strength to climb up to the crow's nest and fight off most of Roger's crew.
  • Training Montage: Walter and Albert have one, complete with almost blowing themselves up, being clumsy, throwing themselves into the sea and struggling to climb rigging.
  • Treacherous Adviser: Lieutenant Howett hates being second-in-command to the wimpy Captain Fearless, who turns away from an opportunity to fight the enemy the best that he can. When Howett eventually loses his thread with him, he and the rest of the sailors on their voyage organise a fake mutiny (with "unconscious" sailors covered in jam/blood) to scare the captain away, and he wins. Unfortunately for him, Howett makes everything worse for the voyage, due to his greediness and Blood Knight mentality. Within at least 30 minutes of being in charge, the crew are arrested by the Spanish Armada and forced to work for them, in exchange for public execution.
  • Unplanned Crossdressing: Albert finds himself in Sally's nightgown when he wakes up in his hotel room and on the Venus.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Sally doesn't attempt a deep male-sounding voice at any point in her disguise and somehow, all the men around her don't seem to notice this.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: The failure to remove a splinter in Fearless' foot after weeks of the incident happening leads to him getting a horrible spread of a gangrene-like infection up his leg, leaving him unconscious from the illness. When he wakes up just as the group are preparing to amputate his leg, he moans in a high-pitched voice about missing his parents and being terrified of a rocking horse.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: All the victims of the shanghai incidents.
  • Walk the Plank: Roger's punishment for Albert, Fearless and Walter. In classic Carry On style, slapstick ensues.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To Horatio Hornblower.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The film is set in the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars, although it centres on the three men (and one woman) with the least iron of the lot.