Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Liz Fraser
Dir. Gerald Thomas
From the ridiculous to the sublime, Carry on Cabby was the seventh official Carry On film. Based on the stage play Call Me A Cab, Charlie Hawkins (Sid James) runs a successful taxi business, Speedee Taxis, with a bit too much enthusiasm for his wife’s liking. Eventually, Peggy Hawkins (Hattie Jacques) walks out and sets up her own taxi firm, GlamCabs, with a female troop of glamorous drivers and some textbook marketing ideas. Of course Sunshine Cabs starts to go down the drain as Mrs Hawkins outwits hubby at every turn.
I’m probably wrong to suggest that the Carry On franchise was still finding its feet by the time film number seven was reached, but the barbaric innuendo of some of the later films is absent here. In spite of the war of the sexes theme 1963 was still a time when gratuitous filth was still only found in public schools and the darker parts of the Civil Service.
There is almost an innocence to Carry On Cabby. The film takes us back to a time when black and white was still all the colour you really needed, and you could look at a road and actually see the kerb, unlike today where every urban image is wall to wall traffic. How did people survive having to walk or take the bus everywhere?
Sid James, for my money, will never shake off that slightly dodgy persona, with his crinkly hair and laugh that makes Muttley sound respectible. Charles Hawtrey hams it up falling over anything that can be fallen over, whilst Hattie Jacques gravitates between desperate housewife and Superbusinesswoman, sometimes in the same scene.
Lest anyone tut tut at the seaside humour and passive sexism of the Carry On films try to imagine how a version made today might look with the moral standards of 2013. It doesn’t bear thinking about.