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Film / Follow That Camel

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Abdul Abulbul: The infidels will perish when the crescent of the moon's in its third stage of Orion.
Sergeant Nocker: When's that?
Abdul Abulbul: Tuesday.
— One of the first meetings between the hero and the villain.

Follow That Camel is a Carry On movie that was released in 1967 as the fourteenth movie in the series. It starring Special Guest Phil Silvers, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Angela Douglas, Peter Butterworth, and Bernard Bresslaw.

This was the second Carry On film that didn't have "Carry On" preceding the verb/phrase, but it's 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 1939 movie adaptation, but it mocks other works around the plot of the French Foreign Legion, such as Under Two Flags.

The movie stars a middle-class cricket fanatic named Bertram Oliphant "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 rival suitor Captain Humphrey Bagshaw (Peter Gilmore) to Bo's love interest Lady Jane Ponsonby (Douglas).

After finding out his innocence, Jane sets out to find him in North Africa, where with help from local café owner Zig-Zig (Sims), Bo and Simpson join the French Foreign Legion. The raging Commandant Maximilian Burger (Williams), and his second-in-command Captain Gerrard le Pice (Hawtrey) are on high alert following a threat from Sheikh Abdul Abulbul (Bresslaw), and so treat the two newcomers with great suspicion. They are introduced to Sergeant Ernie Nocker (Silvers) who takes an instant dislike to them until he realises that they know his tales of bravery against the Riffs were all lies, and he had been having it off with Zig-Zig the entire time.

Bo and Simpson are soon treated like royalty by Sergeant Nocker, but when he takes the two out for the night, Abdul uses Corktip (Anita Harris), a Sultry Belly Dancer, to capture Bo and Sergeant Nocker, while also meeting Jane upon her arrival and taking her to be his thirteenth wife.

Simpson manages to locate Bo and Sergeant Nocker, allowing the latter to escape to tell Commandant Burger what has happened, but the Commandant (having heard from Zig-Zig of his lies) refuses to believe him until he hears that his former flame Jane is also in trouble and leads the Legion to rescue the three. When Bo and Simpson are found abandoned and nearly dead in the desert, it soon becomes a race against time for the Legion to retrieve Jane from Abdul's clutches and to prevent an attack on the garrison as Hilarity Ensues.

Tropes Included:

  • 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).
  • Agony of the Feet: A Deleted Scene had Simpson accidentally impale Sergeant Nocker's foot during bayonet practice.
  • Alliterative Name: Abdul Abulbul.
  • All There in the Script: We don't get to know Sergeant Nocker's first name, but the back of the DVD in "The Classic Carry On Film Collection" boxset gives it as "Ernie".
  • America Saves the Day: In a way, this trope is zig-zagged. Sergeant Nocker'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.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Captain le Pice's glasses are from 1948.
    • The song played on the gramophone is "Durch die grüne Heide", which wouldn't be written for another 35-odd years.
  • 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.
  • Artistic Licence – Religion: Islam forbids the use of the term 'prophet' for anyone subsequent to Mohammed, the founder of the faith, who is styled 'Seal of the Prophets'. A revered holy man like Mustapha Leek would be called a preacher or imam.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: To be honest, Abdul Abulbul sounds like the worst imitation of an Arab name in British film history.
    • It is a Shout-Out to the 19th century music hall song 'Abdul the Bulbul Emir'.
  • Bayonet Ya: A Deleted Scene saw Bo and Simpson doing bayonet practice, resulting in Simpson accidentally impaling Sergeant Nocker's foot.
  • Big Bad: Abdul Abulbul.
  • A Bloody Mess: The audience first sees Sergeant Nocker asleep in Zig-Zig's bed after having a one-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: Simpson realises that Sergeant Nocker lied to the Legion about his disappearance because Zig-Zig pointed out earlier that he was in the backroom of her café, so Bo uses this information to get Sergeant Nocker to treat him and Simpson like royalty.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Sergeant Nocker 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 Foreign Legion after he accused him of tripping him over at a cricket match. The dinner guests manage 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 Gunman: Captain le Pice. Then again, it's rather common with Charles Hawtrey's characters.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Bo's cricket skills.
  • Chest of Medals: Sergeant Nocker has at least twelve on his chest from Commandant 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: Captain le Pice, after being sent to a reserve base to get more reinforcements.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: After six days with Sergeant Nocker in the back room of her café, Zig-Zig glares at Sergeant Nocker 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.
  • Crossing the Desert: The legionnaires have to do so in order to return to the fort before Abdul can marry Jane. This proves tough, however - Captain le Pice and half the men drop out early on due to injury, whilst the remainders turn into a Dwindling Party as more and more men drop dead on the trek. By the end, only Bo, Simpson, Sergeant Nocker, Commandant Burger, and Corporal Clotski are left.
  • Crying Wolf: Sergeant Nocker. He pretends to take dangerous patrolling missions into the occupied Arab towns in order to have enough time to sleep with the vulnerable 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, a jealous Zig-Zig storms into Commandant 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 Sergeant Nocker 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.
  • Desert Warfare: The film follows the French Foreign Legion in North Africa, as they run into conflict with the local Arabs, who want them dead.
  • Dirty Old Man
    • Sergeant Nocker, who pretends to patrol the desert in order to get into Arab women's pants.
    • Commandant Burger is implied, revealed in one particular scene.
      Captain le Pice: Herr Commander, there is a woman here to see you.
      Commandant 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: Bo and Sergeant Nocker are kidnapped by Abulbul because they wander into Café Zigazig 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 inadvertently caused Bo to join the Foreign Legion.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Hungarian dubs:
    • One dub changes Sergeant Nocker's surname to "Dumpling", as "Nocker" sounds like "Nockerl" - German for "dumplings".
    • Commandant Burger is nicknamed "Max".
    • Captain le Pice's surname becomes "Spice".
    • The various dubs change Corktip's name to "Vanilla", "Corkscrew", and "Mouthpiece" (can be used as cigarette-related slang).
  • 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.
  • Fanservice: Mostly from the women of the desert baring their midriffs.
  • Funny Foreigner: In a way, everyone in this movie. They're all a group of foreigners who meet up in North Africa to fight against each other, each having their own little quirks that makes them weird.
    • Jane, Bo 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 Bo wasn't afraid to yell in Abulbul's face when Sergeant Nocker is threatened.
    • Commandant 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.
    • Captain 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.
  • Great Escape: Bo running away (with Simpson) to escape being accused of cheating in a cricket match.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Commandant Burger (a German) and Captain le Pice (a Frenchman) sometimes speak in their native language.
    • Commandant Burger calls Captain le Pice a "dummkopf" note  at one point. He also uses "Gott im himmel!" and "Mein Gott!" when frustrated.
    • Captain le Pice exclaims "Oui-oui!" note  in excitement when Commandant Burger creates a master plan.
      Commandant Burger: Well stop "wee wee"-ing and get on with it!
  • High-Class Glass: Commandant Burger wears a monocle, 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.
  • Honey Trap: Bo, Simpson and Sergeant Nocker join together to enjoy a night at Café Zigazig, where Corktip, the local belly dancer, seduces Bo and Sergeant Nocker into being captured by Corktip's master, Sheikh Abdul Abulbul.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: Although Phil Silvers' character's name is "Sergeant Nocker", it is often mistakenly spelled "Sergeant Knocker".
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    Sergeant Nocker: What's "the pill"?
    Commandent Burger: I can't conceive.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Sergeant Nocker in a Deleted Scene after he and Bo accidentally knock out Simpson:
    Bo: Simpson!
    Sergeant Nocker: What?! It can't be! He must have a double.
    Bo: But it is!
    Sergeant Nocker: Then I must have a double!
  • 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, Commandant 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 Sergeant Nocker 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 guillotined.
  • Last-Name Basis: Captain le Pice. We never know what his forename is. note 
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Sergeant Nocker 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 Bo, which is probably why the suitor made it seem like he was tripped by Bo during their runs during cricket.
    • After joining the legion, Bo and Commandant Burger pine for Jane's affections. Even though Bo wins the contest, his newborn son is the spitting image of Commandant Burger (to be fair to Jane, she didn't really know what she was doing when Commandant Burger made love to her). Bo appears to be absolutely oblivious.
  • Market-Based Title: The film was known as Carry On in the Legion in America.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Sergeant Nocker 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 Sergeant Nocker 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 Sergeant Nocker and Bo. He chooses to compare her bra to the plates that Bo used to use for their dumpling 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.
  • Plot Hole:
    • Zig-Zig somehow knows to tell Sergeant Nocker that Corktip wants to see him in the back room without being told prior.
    • After Simpson is mistaken for the enemy and knocked unconscious by Bo and Sergeant Nocker, he is straight after seen exiting the tent with the two back in his uniform. There was a Deleted Scene that took place between these two scenes, but its removal leaves the audience scratching their heads.
  • Punny Name: A Deleted Scene gave us Capitaine Charles Derriére.
    Sergeant Nocker: Oh of course. Old rear-end Charlie.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: In the Legion, you have the naive Bo and Simpson, the short-tempered German Commandant Burger, the absent-minded Frenchman Captain le Pice and the smug American Sergeant Nocker.
  • Rank Up: Sergeant Nocker is made a Commandant by the epilogue.
  • Repetitive Name: Zig-Zig.
  • 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 Bo 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 North Africa to join the Foreign Legion, implying that his entire life was probably focused on being in that cricket club and his romantic interest in Jane, 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 Arab 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, Sergeant Nocker has the two men punished like this, until Simpson realises that Sergeant Nocker lied about his whereabouts to the commandant, making Sergeant Nocker have no choice but to release them.
  • Serious Business: Being accused of cheating in a cricket match, being revoked of your membership in a cricket club and being removed from your love interest's life, is enough to make Bo be distraught enough to join the Foreign Legion in North Africa.
  • Shout-Out: From Sergeant Nocker in a Deleted Scene where Abdul plays music to get ready to marry Jane:
    Sergeant Nocker: How about that! The whole garrison wiped out and they give us selections from The Desert Song!
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: After discovering that Abdul's army have moved on from their earlier spot, Commandant Burger grabs a nearby skull at the crime scene, thinking that it's Lady Jane, and moans "Alas, poor Jane - I knew her well." Sergeant Nocker then points out that the skull is masculine.
  • Skewed Priorities
    • Corktip spits on the sand in disgust at Sergeant Nocker and Bo after they've woken up from their shanghai, which makes Bo scold her for doing so, pointing out that "in England, you'd be fined £5."
    • After sharing a passionate moment in his office with his childhood crush Lady Jane, Commandant Burger becomes frustrated and unsettled on the news of Jane being kidnapped by the sheikh, and immediately sends out the army when Sergeant Nocker admits that he spotted her during his Arab capture.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Abdul Abulbul kidnaps Lady Jane by slipping "sherbert" in her drink.
  • Smug Super: Sergeant Nocker. 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.
  • Sultry Belly Dancer: Corktip, a stunning local woman who catches the eyes of Bo, Simpson, and Sergeant Nocker. Unfortunately for them, Abdul is using her to seduce them so he can capture them.
  • Tagline: "Bilko joins the Carry On legion!".
  • Take That!: When Corktip mentions the Street of Many Fools, Sergeant Nocker assumes it's 10 Downing Street.
  • Tap on the Head: Sergeant Nocker and Bo are both captured this way. Later, they inadvertently hit Simpson on the head when he's disguised as an Arab.
  • Thirsty Desert: The lack of water is a constant danger to our heroes in the French Foreign Legion. Bo and Simpson suffer from Hollywood Mirages during the trek across the desert, and the draining of the Oasis el Nooki proves to be a serious issue.
  • Those Two Guys: Bo and Simpson.
  • 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 Commandant 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 Commandant Burger doesn't make it out alive...
  • Tyop on the Cover: The back of the Australian VHS misses out on the "n" in the word "known", giving us the phrase "Bertram Oliphant West, know as Bo".
  • Underwear Flag: Used by the Arab army to mock the French Foreign Legion's morning march, when a pair of bloomers are attached to the flagpole; the Arab soldiers and their leader don't even attempt to hide themselves, and conspicuously shriek with laughter on the nearby balcony as the Legion's staff threaten to punish their soldiers.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Zig-Zig disappears from the film after spilling the beans about Sergeant Nocker's deception.
    • Captain le Pice is sent by Commandant 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 Commandant Burger and the rest. After that scene, the movie timeskips to Bo and Jane being married and Sergeant Nocker eventually being promoted, and Commandant Burger is implied to have died on the battlefield, but there is no talk of Captain 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.
    Zig-Zig: 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 Sergeant Nocker 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.

Alternative Title(s): Carry On In The Legion, Carry On Follow That Camel