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Carry On Cleo is the tenth film in the Carry On film series and was released in 1964. ICONS.a portrait of England cite the Carry On films as iconic of British cinema, and describe Carry On Cleo as "perhaps the best".

Such was the significance of this film that it was amongst three Carry On films (along with Carry On Sergeant and Carry On Screaming) whose original movie posters were reproduced by the Royal Mail on stamps to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 'Carry On' movie series in June 2008.

Plot summary

The Romans invade the wet and miserable Britainmarker, and enslave the cowardly maker of square wheels Hengist Pod (Kenneth Connor) and the fearless warrior Horsa (Jim Dale), among others. When an attempt is made to kill the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar (Kenneth Williams) at a Roman temple, Horsa kills Caesar's enemies, but Hengist gets all the credit, and is made Caesar's bodyguard. Meanwhile, Mark Antony (Sid James), Caesar's best friend, becomes besotted with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra (Amanda Barrie), but the only way to achieve his heart's desire is to kill Caesar and Hengist.

Background notes

Kenneth Williams' line as Caesar, in fear of his life before the conspirators and their drawn swords, is frequently voted among the funniest lines in British comedy. It has also been voted the all-time funniest one-liner in a film.

However, it was not an original Carry On joke at all: scriptwriter Talbot Rothwell requested the use of the gag from its creators, Frank Muir and Denis Norden, who had written it for BBC radio comedy show Take It From Here.

In one scene at Caesar's palace, when Mark Antony demands Hengist to describe his 'fight' with the conspirators, he accidentally chops the arms off a statue of the goddess, Venus, apparently creating the Venus de Milo in doing so.

At one point, in a vision of the future, we see Caesar stabbed with a dagger, and he says "Is this a dagger I see before me?" This is a quote from Shakespeare, but is actually spoken by Macbeth.

The costumes and sets used in the film were actually taken from Cleopatra starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor after that production moved to Rome and rebuilt its sets there to take advantage of better weather.

The film's credits make ironic reference to the scant regard paid to historical accuracy. The titles advise that the story is "from an original idea by William Shakespeare", and that "Whilst the characters and events in this story are based on actual characters and events, certain liberties have been taken with Cleopatra".

Carry on Cleo was filmed between 13 and 28 July 1964.



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