Apologies to the makers of Saving Private Ryan, Das Boot, Cross of Iron and countless other great war films but this one is for the Brits only.
Stiff upper lips, gritty realism and tally ho’s all round.
Filmed in 1968 and set in British India in 1895, Carry On Up the Khyber is one of the team’s most memorable efforts. Sid James plays Sid James as ever, though nominally his role is that of Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond, the unflappable British Governor who must deal with the snakelike, scheming Khasi of Khalabar, played by Kenneth Williams. A crisis occurs when the mystique of the “devils in skirts” of the 3rd Foot and Mouth regiment is exploded when one of their number, the sensitive-to-draughts Charles Hawtrey, is discovered by the natives to be wearing underpants. Revolt is in the offing, with Bernard Bresslaw once again playing a seething native warrior.
Roy Castle neatly plays the sort of role normally assigned to Jim Dale, as the ineffectual young officer, Peter Butterworth is a splendid compromised evangelist, while Terry Scott puts his comedic all into the role of the gruff Sergeant.
Most enduring, however, is the final dinner party sequence in which the British contingent, with the Burpas at the gates of the compound, and plaster falling all about them, demonstrate typical insouciance in the face of imminent peril.
The Khasi of Kalabar: They will die the death of a thousand cuts!
Princess Jelhi: Oh! But that’s horrible!
The Khasi of Kalabar: Not at all my little desert flower, the British are used to cuts!
Some memorable scenes but the best one is the one that it is rightly famous for, the final dinner scene. With the climactic battle raging all around them the guests, bar one, observe the niceties of polite company, brilliant.