Follow That Camel is a Carry On movie that was released in 1967 as the fourteenth movie in the series. It stars regulars Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey, Angela Douglas, Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth, and Bernard Bresslaw. Newcomer Anita Harris joins the cast, as well as Phil Silvers in his only Carry On film.
This was the second Carry On film that didn't have the "Carry On" phrase proceeding the verb/phrase, but is sometimes stuck on when listed as a feature in the TV Guide. It wasn't meant to be a member of the franchise to begin with anyway, despite the same crew and the Universal-Adaptor Cast, but was reluctantly stuck on there to boost the box office. (Interestingly, in some countries the movie was released as Carry On In The Legion.)
It is said to be a parody of the novel Beau Geste by Percival Christopher Wren, mostly of the 1933 movie adaptation, but it mocks other films around the plot of the French Foreign Legion, such as certain characters' names, like the character of CorkTip (Harris), who was a mock of the Cigarette character from the movie Under Two Flags.
The movie stars a middle-class cricket fanatic named Bertram "Bo" West (Dale), who runs away from England to join the French Foreign Legion with his loyal servant Simpson (Butterworth) after being accused of cheating in a friendly cricket match by a rival suitor named Humphrey to West's crush Lady Jane Ponsonby (Douglas).
After finding out his innocence, Jane sets out to find him in the Middle East, but West and Simpson's too busy dealing with the likes of the smug womanising Sergeant Knocker (Silvers), the snobby Commandant Burger (Williams) and his kooky sidekick Captain le Pice (Hawtrey) to consider going back to the British Isles. Either way, they probably wouldn't be allowed to leave after being mistaken for patrolling by Knocker's wife ZigZig (Sims) in her restaurant and getting them signed up immediately.
Jane soon bumps into several locals around the town and is then drugged and kidnapped in a bar by an Arabian royal Sheikh Abdul Abulbul (Bresslaw) and is prepped to be made his thirteenth wife. When West finds out, he and Simpson and the rest try to save her and end the Arabian war against Abulbul's bloodthirsty Bedouins.
- Academic Athlete: Bo is particularly clever and is brilliant at cricket.
- Bo, especially when he's a Chivalrous Pervert in CorkTip's home, even though he intended to go there to flirt with her. In the same scene, he cannot see past her obvious double entendres and politely asks if it's okay to go into her room when she's in bed. Then he beats up the hired thugs.
- Simpson, who's a Bumbling Sidekick that tries everything to please and impress Bo.Bo West: I've got to remember the family name!
Simpson: [quietly] West.
Bo West: [weakly] Thank you... Simpson.
- Affectionate Nickname: Bertram West is nicknamed "Bo", possibly because of his fore and middle name (Bertram Oliphant).
- America Saves the Day: In a way, this trope is zig-zagged. Knocker's lies of bravery in ambushes whilst out on "patrol", and managing to fight them off unarmed, play him up as this; the audience would probably be convinced that he saves everyone at the end of the movie from whatever peril there is to come — he doesn't though. Captain le Pice does.
- Armed Farces: As with all military-set Carry On films, this film is packed with clueless officers, naive NCOs, and privates who couldn't find their way out of a sandpit, much less navigate the Sahara.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: To be honest, Abdul Abulbul sounds like the worst imitation of a Middle Eastern name in British film history.
- Belly Dancer: Bo, Simpson and Knocker join together to enjoy a night at the Cafe ZigZig, where CorkTip, the local belly dancer, seduces Bo and Knocker into being captured by CorkTip's master, the Sheik Abulbul.
- Big Bad: Abdul Abulbul.
- A Bloody Mess: The audience first sees Knocker asleep in ZigZig's bed after having a on night-stand with her. When he returns to the army base, he ties a bandage with a speck of jam on it to his forehead and pretends to limp through the front gates.
- Book-Ends: The movie begins and ends with a game of cricket.
- Blackmail: Inverted. Simpson realises that Knocker lied to the Legion about his disappearance because ZigZig pointed out earlier that he was in the back room of her hotel. Knocker overhears them and treats them like royalty in case they tell the commandant and captain the truth, but it's obvious that Simpson and Bo probably wouldn't consider it in the first place.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Sgt. Knocker frequently makes aside remarks to the camera.
- Brownface: Bresslaw was this in order to play Sheikh Abdul Abulbul.
- Bungled Suicide: Lady Jane's arranged-husband hangs himself on the news that Bo has fled to join the army after he accused him of tripping him over at a cricket match. The dinner guests managed to save him before it's too late.
- The Cameo: Series regular recurring actors Michael Nightingale, Julian Hollowaynote and Peter Gilmore as a butler at the Ponsonby mansion, a train conductor, and Jane's suitor Humphrey.
- Camping a Crapper: Simpson knocks out a man for his clothes while he's using the latrine.
- Chekhov's Gun: Bo's cricket skills.
- Chekhov's Gunman: le Pice. Then again, it's rather common with Charles Hawtrey's characters.
- Chest of Medals: Knocker has at least twelve on his chest from Burger.
- Circling Vultures: Seen as the troops march across the desert from the dry oasis to emphasise the severity of their situation.
- Climactic Battle Resurrection: le Pice, after being sent to a reserve base to get more reinforcements.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: After six days with Knocker in the back room of her hotel, ZigZig glares at Knocker in disgust when he becomes distracted by CorkTip's belly dancing. She also tries to block his view with her body, but he cranes his neck around her.
- Crying Wolf: Knocker. He pretends to take dangerous patrolling missions into the occupied Middle Eastern towns in order to have enough time to sleep with the vunerable local women; he covers his tracks by creating paint-stained bandages to stick all over his body and acts disoriented when he staggers through the base gates, and is then rewarded with a medal for his on-the-spot tale of fighting unarmed against enemy troops. After showing Bo and Simpson around the town with the other soldiers (see the Blackmail entry above), a jealous ZigZig storms into Burger's office and tells him the truth; the return from being kidnapped by the sheikh's army and trying desperately to tell the commandant and the captain what's happened the night before lands Knocker in the Legion's jail for "lying again", no questions asked.
- Cut the Juice: When the Legion discover the remains of Sheikh's camp, the supposed lake that was supposed to be nearby is now a ditch with a plug sitting by the plughole.
- Dirty Old Man
- Sergeant Knocker, who pretends to patrol the desert in order to get into Middle Eastern women's pants.
- Commandant Burger is implied, revealed in one particular scene.CPT le Pice: Herr Commander, there is a woman here to see you.
CMNDT Burger: "A woman"? But it's not Saturday, is it?
- Disguised in Drag: The group make Simpson disguise as Jane so that she can escape the harem. Abulbul falls for it immediately and tries to force himself upon him.
- Distracted by the Sexy: West and Knocker are kidnapped by Abulbul because they wander into a cafe and are enchanted by CorkTip.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: After watching the pacing of Simpson and Bo, he becomes this towards them. When he overhears them talking about information that could rat him out as a liar, he waits on them hand and foot to keep them quiet.
- Driven to Suicide: Captain Bagshaw tries to hang himself after learning that he inadvertedly cause Bo to join the Foreign Legion.
- Dwindling Party: Several men die on the way to the fort. Only the main characters actually make it there.
- The Edwardian Era: The movie is set in 1906.
- Excited Show Title!: Some international releases were Follow That Camel!.
- Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": Jane refers to Burger as Maximillian when she visits him.
- Everyone Went to School Together: Burger and Jane were students in the same year-group, when Burger accidentally cut her finger.
- Fanservice: Mostly from the women of the desert baring their midriffs.
- Freudian Excuse: The reason that Burger joined the Legion was because he was ashamed that he cut Jane's finger during a private fencing lesson.
- Funny Foreigner: In a way, everyone in this movie. They're all a group of foreigners who meet up in the Middle East to fight against each other, each having their own little quirks that makes them weird.
- Jane, West and Simpson mostly show the Stiff Upper Lip trope. Most cases, they don't seem fazed or terrified (Simpson sometimes does, though) whenever they're in danger or peril. Jane was definitely not fazed at the threatening behaviour of Abulbul and his talks of forced marriage, and West wasn't afraid to yell in Abulbul's face when Knocker is threatened.
- Burger, in shame of cutting Jane's finger, is a no-nonsense commandant with a rather short temper.
- Abulbul, who sends the enemy underwear with messages on them to scare them into surrender and talks in Large Ham.
- le Pice is a cloudcuckoolander, who's slightly wimpy.
- Germanic Depressives: Commandant Burger, who is very strict, cold, and takes everything seriously. Even when shot, he doesn't react.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Expected in a Carry On film.
- SGT Knocker — the word "knocker" being slang for breasts.
- Sheikh threatening the Legion, and claim he'll cut off their body parts if they cross him again.Bo West: I assume he means our ears.
SGT Knocker: [weakly] That's my boy. Always thinking of the higher things.
SGT Knocker: [after realising they're in the harem tent] No man is allowed in here. Only the eunuchs.
- Then much later:
Bo West: What are those?
SGT Knocker: You'll never know how close you were to finding out.
- Great Escape: West running away (with Simpson) to escape being accused of cheating in a cricket match.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Burger (a German) and le Pice (a Frenchman) sometimes speak in their native language.
- Burger calls le Pice a "dummkopf" note at one point. He also uses "Gott im himmel!" and "Mein Gott!" when frustrated.
- le Pice exclaims "Oui-oui!" note in excitement when Burger creates a master plan.CMNDT Burger: Well stop "wee wee"-ing and get on with it!
- High-Class Glass: CMDNT Burger wears a monacle, reflecting his implied wealth, considering that he went to the same university as the aristocratic Lady Jane.
- Hollywood Mirage: The legionnaires are distracted by numerous mirages as they cross the desert, and finally decide to pass by what they believe is an illusionary luxury hotel — to the dismay of the (very real) proprietors, who can't understand why they aren't doing more business.
- Incredibly Lame Pun:SGT Knocker: What's "the pill"?
Commandent Burger: I can't conceive.
- The Ingenue: Lady Jane is very naive when she sets out after Bo, which several less scrupulous men use to their advantage; when she mentions she is travelling alone to a railway porter, a ship's steward, and finally Commandant Burger, each one smiles lasciviously before drawing the nearest window shade. In each case, the camera pans away as we hear Lady Jane's surprised (yet also interested) reaction to their advances.
- Invisible Holes: After the battle in the film's climax, Burger doesn't notice until he takes a drink of water that he has been shot multiple times; the water pours out of the many bullet-holes in his body.
- Karma Houdini: Even though Knocker is found out to be a liar, he doesn't get repercussions for conning the army. Surely, in real life, he would've probably been either dismissed, or deported back to the US, or probably executed.
- Last-Name Basis: Le Pice. We never know what his forename is.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Knocker tries to invoke this trope to hide his womanizing from the Commandent.
- Love Triangle: Everyone seems to want a piece of Jane!
- Bo and Humphrey to Jane. It's obvious that Jane doesn't care for anyone but West, which is probably why the suitor made it seem like he was tripped by West during their runs during cricket.
- After joining the legion, West and Burger pine for Jane's affections. Even though West wins the contest, his newborn son is the spitting image of Burger. West appears to be absolutely oblivious.
- Mistaken for Badass: Knocker himself invokes this trope. He uses his power to set out into the desert to get into the pants of several native women, getting more medals in the process. Naturally, when trouble's on the way, he doesn't seem to be able to handle it (it's not shown on screen, however, but it's heavily implied). The biggest example is when he and Bo are kidnapped by Abulbul, who threatens them with execution, and Bo tells the sheikh off for being rude — all while Knocker cringes in fear and hangs his head like a sorrowful child.
- Mugged for Disguise: Simpson knocks out an Arab for his clothes so he can infiltrate the Sheik's camp.
- Nice Guy: Bo, Simpson and Jane are nice to people throughout, even if they loathe being in their presence.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: Simpson isn't really fascinated by CorkTip's belly dancing, unlike Knocker and Bo. He chooses to compare her bra to the plates that Bo used to use for their dumplings recipes.
- Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: The final scenes take place at sunset and sunrise as both sides of the war warm up for their attack.
- Perma-Shave: When wandering aimlessly around the desert to find the base, all the men in the Foreign Legion stay clean-shaven throughout, even though they probably take about a week or two to travel across the desert. It's also highly unlikely that they took their razors with them for the journey.
- Press-Ganged: Although not being taken on a pirate ship, Knocker and Bo are knocked out by CorkTip and her hired thugs and held hostage.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: In the Legion, you have the naive West and Simpson, the short-tempered German Burger, the absent-minded Frenchman le Pice and the smug American Knocker.
- Rank Up: Sgt. Knocker is made a commandant by the epilogue.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Implied with Jane's suitors Humphrey and Bo. This would make sense with Humphrey's actions to get Bo kicked out of the cricket club because he probably saw himself better than West because of his wealth (note that he is at the dinner table with Lady Jane in the next scene). Also, after Bo is kicked out of the cricket club, he immediately flees the UK to the Middle East to join the army, implying that his entire life was probably focused on being in that cricket club, and seems to act that he's ashamed to be seen again. Although, Bo has a personal butler that's always by his side, but their relationship is portrayed as two close friends that have a one-sided catering service instead of a merchant barking orders at a working-class-born man that should be grateful to be serving him.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Abdul is an Arabian sheikh that is in charge of his army and leads them into battle.
- Running Gag: The cockerel singing its morning tune and someone off-screen shooting at it. The climax has the entire Legion and Bedouin army firing at the creature, making you wonder how it's still alive.
- Sand Necktie: Disgusted at Simpson and Bo's apparent unfazed reaction to his bellowing which failed to shock them into army life, Knocker has the two men punished like this, until Simpson realises that Knocker lied about his whereabouts to the commandant, making Knocker have no choice but to release them. (See Blackmail.)
- Serious Business: Being accused of cheating in a cricket match, and being revoked of your membership in a cricket team, is enough to make Bo be distraught enough to join the army in the Middle East.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: After discovering that the sheikh's army have moved on from their earlier spot, Burger grabs a nearby skull at the crime scene, thinking that it's Lady Jane, and moans "Alas, poor Jane — I knew her well." Knocker then points out that the skull is masculine.
- Skewed Priorities
- CorkTip spits on the sand in disgust at Knocker and Bo after they've woken up from their shanghai, which makes Bo scald her for doing so, pointing out that "in England, you'd be fined five pounds."
- After sharing a passionate moment in his office with his childhood crush Lady Jane, Burger becomes frustrated and unsettled on the news of Jane being kidnapped by the sheikh, and immediately sends out the army when Knocker admits that he spotted her during his Arabian capture.
- Slipping a Mickey: Abdul Abulbul kidnaps Lady Jane by slipping "sherbert" in her drink.
- Smug Super: Knocker. When he notices Simpson and Bo being very slack with their morning rise, as well as noticing them getting washed in a pig trough, he becomes aggressive and has them buried in the sand. Them being British and him being American might play into it as well.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Burger.
- Take That!: CorkTip mentions the Street of Many Fools. Sgt. Knocker assumes it's 10 Downing Street.
- Tap on the Head: Sgt. Knocker and Bo are both captured this way. Later, they inadvertedly hit Simpson on the head when he's disguised as an Arab.
- Those Two Guys:
- CMNDT Burger and CPT le Pice.
- Simpson and Bo West.
- Knocker and a Spanish soldier.
- Took a Level in Badass
- Bo's shyness around CorkTip wanting him to visit her while she laid in bed, eventually giving in and going to see her, and then beating up her hired assassins. He reassures her that he knew what he was doing because he's learnt jujitsu.
- Captain le Pice being Commandant Burger's right-hand man, but obviously doubted as good enough to be a Captain, saves Burger's and the remainder of the team's asses with the reinforcements (and the injured party) he was ordered to go and find. Even though Burger doesn't make it out alive...
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- ZigZig disappears from the film after spilling the beans about Sgt. Knocker's deception.
- CPT le Pice is sent by Burger to get the reinforcements at the backup base while the rest of the army go back to the campsite which he does — saving the remainder of the team's asses by commanding the entire gang of reinforcements to save Burger and the rest. After that scene, the movie timeskips to Bo West and Jane being married and Knocker eventually being promoted, and Burger is implied to have died on the battlefield, but there is no talk of le Pice and his bravery and how he came to their rescue. So, could he have died in battle too?
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Anyone ever heard of the name "Oliphant"?Bo West: [introducing himself] Good evening, madam. My name is Bertram Oliphant West.
ZigZig: Well, what do you expect me to do about it?
- Who's Your Daddy?: At the end of the film, Bo and Lady Jane have married, and Knocker visits them in England and sees the child to whom Lady Jane has just given birth — a son who looks exactly like Commandant Burger, right down to the High-Class Glass.