Tag Archives: beauty contest

Carry On Girls (1973)

 “I don’t recognise you with your trousers on.”

The Carry On films were made over a period of almost three decades. The Carry On team was composed of a core of the greatest comic talent in Britain, and while the films also included new talent, Carry On fans always knew they could count on seeing some of their old favourites. Carry On films are bawdy, loaded with cliches and sexual innuendo, and so if that sort of comedy appeals to you, you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself.

carry-on-girlsCarry On Girls is film number 25 in the series. Sid Fiddler (Sid James) suggests that the small coastal town of Fircombe should host a beauty pageant to boost tourism. The pliable mayor Frederick Bumble (Kenneth Connor) goes along with the scheme. Councilor Augusta Prodworthy (June Whitfield), an acid-tongued, ardent woman’s libber is outraged by the idea, and she organises teams of local women to protest and sabotage the event.

Sid decides that the beauty pageant must be promoted by fair means or foul, so he and Peter Potter (Bernard Bresslaw) organise a series of publicity stunts aimed at grabbing the front page. Sid is aided and abetted by Miss Easy Rider, Hope Springs (Barbara Windsor) while Sid’s fed-up fiancee hotelier, Connie Philpotts (Joan Sims) is scandalised by the antics of the beauty pageant crowd.

The teaming of Sid James and Barbara Windsor will delight Carry On fans. They make a great team. Sid is his usual rascally persona, and Windsor is cheeky and scantily clad. The film is replete with hilarious characters–there’s an elderly woman who’s consumed with the idea that every man on the planet is after her underwear, and there’s an admiral (Peter Butterworth) who uses his telescope to get close-ups of the contestants. The humour is steady, and the film’s conclusion is riotous. There’s nothing like a little nostalgia to improve the spirits, so if you want a good laugh, and enjoy bawdy British humour, then Carry On films are for you.

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Prix de Beaute (1930)

“Don’t even dream of it.”

Prix de Beaute  (Miss Europe) was made as a silent film, and then dubbed in French in 1930–this explains why there’s not much dialogue, and the emphasis is still on facial expressions–and naturally that’s perfect for the diminutive, stormy Louise Brooks.

When the film begins, Lucienne–known as Lulu–is spending the day at a recreation area with her possessive boyfriend, Andre (Georges Charlia), and their mutual friend Antonin (Augusto Bandini). The very first glimpse of Lulu is a pair of legs–she’s sitting inside the car changing into her bathing suit. She emerges and enthusiastically performs several exercises in front of a group of fascinated young men. Andre, however, is not amused, and he barks orders that Lulu should return to his side and behave herself. This very first scene sets the tone of the rest of the film, and heralds future trouble between Lulu and Andre.

Lulu, Andre, and Antonin all work at the offices of a major Parisian newspaper–the Globe. Lulu is a typist–one of many who sit at desks and hammer out letters all day long. Andre and Antonin are both typesetters, but Antonin is also the object of everyone’s semi-hostile teasing. The Globe announces the search is on to discover the new Miss France, and that the winner will travel to Spain to compete in Miss Europe. Lulu considers applying–after all–it’s just as simple matter of submitting two photographs.

The film’s strongest scenes occur at the fairground. This is supposed to be an evening of fun for Lulu, Andre and Antonin, but Lulu feels alienated by the shoving crowd and her macho show-off boyfriend. Her expressions reflect her troubled thoughts. At this point, she realises that she’s not having a good time, and she never will have a good time unless she somehow manages to escape….

Lulu is a woman trapped in a man’s world, and the scenes of the beauty contest focus on the males in the audience. Prince de Grabovsky all but twirls his dapper little moustache and cackles lasciviously when he cast his eyes on the beauty queen. Some men watch the contest with monocles, others with binoculars–but they all remain fixated on the parade of bathing suit clad female flesh.

The Kino DVD offers a good print, but the film does seem to be sped up–although this is more noticeable in some scenes than others. For example, in one scene beauty contestants walk in front of a cheering crowd, and when the camera is solely focused on the action of the contestants walking across a stage, the incorrect speed is obvious. I haven’t seen the VHS tape version, so I cannot say how it compares to the DVD.

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