Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Carry On Spying (1964)


Main image of Carry On Spying (1964)
Directed byGerald Thomas
Original Screenplay byTalbot Rothwell
 Sid Colin
Produced byPeter Rogers
Director of PhotographyAlan Hume
Production CompanyAnglo Amalgamated Productions

Kenneth Williams (Desmond Simkins); Bernard Cribbins (Harold Crump); Charles Hawtrey (Charlie Bind); Barbara Windsor (Daphne Honeybutt); Eric Pohlmann ("The Fat Man" Emil Fauzak)

Show full cast and credits

A group of incompetent secret agents are sent to retrieve a secret chemical formula stolen by STENCH (Society for the Total Extinction of Non-Conforming Humans).

Show full synopsis

The recent successes of Die Another Day (d. Lee Tamahori, 2002) and Johnny English (d. Peter Howitt, 2003) show there is still plenty of commercial mileage in both the James Bond franchise and in parodies of the spy genre. Apart from the more recent Austin Powers series, during the 1960s James Coburn starred in two spy spoofs as agent Derek Flint, Dean Martin hammed it up in four Matt Helm comedies, and a gaggle of stars played James Bond in the big budget send-up, Casino Royale (d. Val Guest/Joe McGrath/John Huston & others, 1967).

In 1964, however, the Bond films were still fairly new and Carry on Spying (d. Gerald Thomas) was one of the very first 007 pastiches. The last in the series to be shot in black and white, it features the debut of series stalwart Barbara Windsor (as probationary agent Daphne Honeybutt). It also marks a significant shift in the thinking behind the films.

Co-scripted by Talbot Rothwell and Sid Colin, it clearly has its comic sights set on From Russia With Love (d. Terence Young, 1963), initiating the series of film parodies that came to dominate most of the subsequent Carry Ons of the 1960s. It also mocks other spy films such as The Third Man (d. Carol Reed, 1949), aping its famous zither music and having Jim Dale fall into the Vienna sewers that featured prominently in that classic film's climax. In an ironic reversal, however, a scene featuring a murderous milkman armed with explosive milk bottles later turned up in a genuine Bond adventure, The Living Daylights (d. John Glen, 1987).

At this stage of the series, the humour was still comparatively genteel and the tempo a little less scattershot, allowing Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey (as Charley Bind) to shine together in a number of longer, more slowly paced scenes, such as the initial agents' briefing and an extended sequence showing their breaking into a warehouse.

Sergio Angelini

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Hiring the agents (3:19)
2. Arriving in Vienna (2:40)
3. At the warehouse (2:44)
4. Radio contact (2:26)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Dale, Jim (1935-)
Rothwell, Talbot (1916-1981)
Windsor, Barbara (1937-)
Carry On