Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Carry On Cleo (1964)


Main image of Carry On Cleo (1964)
35mm, colour, 92 mins
DirectorGerald Thomas
Production CompanyAdder Productions
ProducerPeter Rogers
ScreenplayTalbot Rothwell
Based on an idea byWilliam Shakespeare
PhotographyAlan Hume

Cast: Amanda Barrie (Cleopatra); Kenneth Connor (Hengist Pod); Kenneth Williams (Julius Caesar); Sidney James (Mark Antony); Joan Sims (Calpurnia)

Show full cast and credits

Mark Antony and Cleopatra's plans to overthrow Julius Caesar are continuously thwarted by two British slaves.

Show full synopsis

Although designed as a send-up of the historical epics that proliferated throughout the 1960s, Carry On Cleo more directly parodies the notoriously extravagant Hollywood blockbuster Cleopatra (UK/US, 1963). But the decision to lampoon this particular movie was made partly for practical reasons. Its star Elizabeth Taylor had originally insisted that Cleopatra be shot in the UK. However, after enormous delays the production relocated to Italy, leaving behind many unused costumes, props and sets in storage at Pinewood Studios, home of the Carry On films.

The film wittily contrasts the splendour of Ancient Rome with the prehistoric Britons dwelling in caves, with Kenneth Connor cast as Hengist Pod, inventor of the square wheel. In one of the film's most inspired sequences, Pod and his neighbour Horsa (played by Jim Dale) are captured and taken to Rome to be sold at a slave market run by the family firm, Marcus et Spencius. Splitting the focus between the honourable slaves and the dissolute Romans was a ploy derived from Quo Vadis (US, 1951) and Ben Hur (US, 1959), but also recalls the hit 1963 West End comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, in which Frankie Howerd played a slave in ancient Rome and in which Connor was still appearing during the filming.

Although this is the Carry On film in which Sid James first comes to the fore, Amanda Barrie sparkles as a coquettish Cleopatra, while Kenneth Williams is a very eccentric Julius Caesar. Williams and James' regular greeting - "Tony!", "Julie!" - is priceless, while Talbot Rothwell's script is replete with cod schoolboy Latin (one of the best has James deliver an exasperated "Blimus!"), a plethora of puns and ingratiatingly daft lines. Particularly effective is the deadpan narration delivered by E.V.H. Emmett, known for thirty years as the voice of the Gaumont British newsreel.

Sergio Angelini

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Hengist and Horsa (1:10)
2. Meet Julius Caesar (3:18)
3. Marcus et Spencius (3:26)
4. Caesar in Egypt (2:20)
Production stills
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Connor, Kenneth (1918-1993)
Dale, Jim (1935-)
Hancock, Sheila (1933-)
Harris, Julie (1921-)
James, Sidney (1913-1976)
Pertwee, Jon (1919-1996)
Rothwell, Talbot (1916-1981)
Sims, Joan (1930-2001)
Carry On
Antony and Cleopatra On Screen