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John Chard
I expected you to be a man... or a woman. The 9th in the Carry On series, and the last to be filmed in black and white, is one of the best. It finds the gang kind of biting the hand that feeds them, Pinewood. The home of James Bond was also the home of the Carry On mob, so with Peter Rogers, Gerald Thomas and Talbot Rothwell spying an opportunity to spoof 007, they did so, whilst also revelling in the chance for some film noir dalliances, notably The Third Man. The cast is this time headed up by Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor (making her Carry On debut), Bernard Cribbins and Charles Hawtrey. They are four less than stellar operatives for British Intelligence tasked with retrieving a top secret formula that has been stolen by STENCH. During their mission they are helped by Carstairs (Jim Dale), and just who or what is the mysterious organisation known as SNOG? Are they friends or in league with the evil Dr. Crow? Though dotted throughout with some written innuendo, "Spying" is still in touch with the more genial comedy that was evident in the early years - particularly the black and whites. This is good honest comedy, with visual exuberance and witty repartee the order of the day. Watching it now you find it holds up very well, sure it's a bit fruity and nutty, but a freshness exists here and it lets some damn fine actors loose to show their respective skills. It also looks terrific, the noir photography by Alan Hume sparkling. A prime Carry On movie for those who prefer their Carry On's more knowingly jolly than the later bawdy entries. 9/10

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