Wednesday, 20 July 2011

You've got to laugh, it's the 70's!

Day 3 of my week of Top 5's continues, and today I thought I'd do Top 5 British Comedy films from the '70's.  And we're talking about classics here, from the days before political correctness ruled over everything, sexism was rife, and Jim Davidson was popular.  The days when Britain turned out sitcoms that were actually funny and we all used to watch wrestling on 'World of Sport' on a Saturday afternoon while waiting for the pop man to come round.  Those were the days...

Anyway, before I disappear into a cloud of nostalgia, here are what I consider to be some of the best comedy films from the 1970's.

1) Carry on Abroad. 

 To be honest, I love the majority of the 'Carry On...' films, but this one is a particualr favourite, if only because the name of Sid James's character in it (Vic Flange!) makes me laugh for the most childish of reasons!  There's just something so British about these movies, and they never fail to make me laugh, no matter how many times I've seen them, and I've seen most of them a lot of times!  They're sexist, sometimes very rude, but the double-entendres can be hilarious and remind us of a time when we weren't afraid to laugh at things that these days can probably have you done for breaching some kind of PC ruling or another!  I grew up with these movies, and I haven't turned out too bad (I hope!).  One thing I've realised though, is that back then we just seemed to accept that Sid James was apparently attractive to women.  If you re-made these movies now you'd never get away with it!  But long live the 'Carry On...' experience, the resort of Els Bels (love it!) and the legends that were Hattie Jacques, Sid James, Kenneth Williams...the list goes on...

2) Holiday On The Buses.        

Again, I love all three of the 'On The Buses' films, watched them all God knows how many times whenever ITV decides to repeat them (most Bank Holidays, usually, although they were on a couple of weeks ago for no apparent reason!) could act them backwards but still adore the nostalgia they conjure up.  And you've got to love Blakey (played by Stephen Lewis). He's a classic character if ever there is one.  We used to have a science teacher at school that we nicknamed Blakey because he was the absolute double of him right down to height, mannerisms and moustache!  We used to do everything in our power to make him to say "I'll get you Butler!", even when nobody in our class had that surname.  I think he twigged eventually, but you'd have thought he'd at least have shaved off the moustache when he did. Happy days...
'Holiday on The Buses' is another film full of sexism, double entendres and classic scenes - who can forget the exploding toilet? - and it also seems to suffer from the old 'Sid James' syndrome of having not-very-attractive-at-all men (Reg Varney and Bob Grant's Stan and Jack characters) portrayed as lotharios as they chase extremely pretty young girls in very short skirts.  But it was the 70's.  We just didn't seem to question things that much back then; it worked, it was successful, who cares whether they looked like Brad Pitt or not?  Brilliant comedy, but doubt very much that that Pontins holiday park they filmed in looks that new now...

3) The Likely Lads.

This film was another in what seemed to be a trend in the 70's of turning sitcoms into feature-length films, but I'm not complaining.  I think you've probably gathered that I'd be quite happy to spend a rainy afternoon on the sofa with a bucket-load of these movies and endless cups of tea.  Heaven!
But I love 'The Likely Lads' more than others because it's set in my native, and beloved, North East of England, which means that every time we watch this film (which was, funnily enough, just a couple of weeks ago) we can't help but point out places of interest (we do have some up here), comment on how much the buses have changed and marvel at how North Tyneside Council have let Whitley Bay sea front go since 1974!  We know all the locations, even the ones that don't exist anymore, like the flats where Terry lived that have now been demolished, and it's quite strange to watch it as the years go by and see just how things have changed since the 70's.  I know a lot of people who haven't been to the North East probably think it all still looks exactly like it does in this film (actually, some parts do, I can't lie!) but progress has actually caught up with us Northerners now!  We're quite advanced you know, got indoor toilets and everything! But this film is another slice of nostalgia for me - local nostalgia, and I'll never tire of watching it for that reason alone.  But I do love the relationships in this film too - Bob and Terry, Bob and Thelma - love Thelma! - they just work!  Again, could act it backwards but could watch it forever.  A slice of Northern humour at it's very best!
And I'll leave you with probably the best quote of the whole film for me from Terry when questioned by Bob about his less-than-romantic tendencies: "If Omar Sharif lived in Gateshead I doubt he'd be Omar Sharif either".  Never a truer word was spoken from the lips of a Northern man...

4) Are You Being Served?

There's a slight pattern concerning holiday themes in this Top 5, and this is yet another popular sitcom that was turned into a film, brandishing probably every stereotype it could think of - but it was still amusing.  Although, let's face it, would you really go on holiday with the people you work with?  Especially a whole department?  Not terribly realistic, but necessary for the entire plot of the film.  Watched these days if only to see how beautiful the late Wendy Richards was back then and, ofcourse, to see how many times Mrs. Slowcombe's pussy is mentioned...'nuff said!

5) Man About The House.

Was a toss up between this and 'Steptoe & Son' but this won over because I hadn't seen this one in a long time, watched it when it was on over Easter (God bless satellite TV) and surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it.  'Man About The House' was the story of a male catering student sharing a flat (owned by George and Mildred Roper) with two females, and at the time it was out it was (I suspect) every bloke's dream (my hubby says it was definitely his!) to be in Richard O'Sullivan's postion, sharing a flat with two pretty girls, but it's probably not a strange occurence these days is it?  Back then it was probably considered to tbe terribly daring but mention that to the kids of today and they'd more than likely just roll their eyes.
But I just love these films because the fashions kill me!  I can remember my mother dressing like that in the flares and the tank tops with the curly shoulder-length hair, and my dad having long hair and wearing bomber jackets, and my husband likes these films just to look at the state of cars back then!  We laugh, then remember we actually lived through that - and why did all kids in 70's films look like they'd come straight out of a jumble sale?
Anyway, this movie also turned out another classic pairing in 'George & Mildred', who got their own spin-off sitcom off the back of this film, (not to mention their own movie too) and so we gained another comedy classic. The 70's was full of them, and for that I'm eternally grateful!

And there we have it.  Just a few of the classic conedy films from the 1970's, a reminder of what seems like a million years ago now, a different age, but I'm glad I grew up in a time when we could laugh without feeling guilty.  Now you've got to consult a rule book to see if it's ok, but that's just the way life's changed over the decades.  We've moved on, times are different, but thankfully these films will always be around to remind us of times long gone, but never forgotten. (Blimey! I make it sound like the dark ages!)  Long live the double-entendres, Sid James's cackle, and the sexist banter of Stan Butler.  All harmless fun - and bloody good Bank Holiday entertainment! 

Don't forget to pop over to my other blog
to find out more info on my eBooks 'No Matter What' and 'Too Much Trouble in Paradise'.  Read excerpts, see some reviews, and find out how to buy copies for yourself!  Both are available now on Amazon for the Kindle!

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