Carry On Dick
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Carry On Dick was the 26th Carry On film. It was released in 1974 and marked the end of an era for the series. It featured the last appearances of Sid James, Barbara Windsor (although she did return to co-present That's Carry On!) and Hattie Jacques. It was also the final script to be written by Talbot Rothwell. The story is based on the Dick Turpin legend and features Turpin (James) as an antihero, attempting to evade capture by the authorities.
The film, set in the 1730s, depicts an England that is being over-run by highwaymen, such as the legendary Dick Turpin, known in the film as Big Dick. To combat this, the Bow Street Runners are established, and their chief, Sir Roger Daley (Bernard Bresslaw), sends two of his men - Desmond Fancey (Kenneth Williams) and Jock Strapp (Jack Douglas) - to deal with Turpin after his coach is held up and all his belongings are taken, including his clothes and those of his wife. The men work out that Turpin's crimes are centred on the Dencher area and head there to investigate.
Dick Turpin is actually the alter ego of the local rector, the Reverend Flasher, and his accomplices are Harriet (Barbara Windsor), the rectory housekeeper, and Tom (Peter Butterworth) who pumps the church organ. The trio of criminals are therefore named Tom, Dick and Harry, Harry being a reference to the name Harriet. Due to the rector's position in society, no-one suspects him and the Bow Street Runners even take him into their confidence. Their first attempt to catch Turpin stems from inaccurate information that he possesses an unusual birthmark - in an awkward place. Strapp attempts to observe men with matching birthmarks but this ends in failure when he is thrown out of the local pub for being a peeping tom. Meanwhile Fancey is also chased from the pub by the members of a travelling show whom Turpin has tricked into attempting to discover if he has the birthmark.
Their next attempt also fails - they arrange a meeting with Turpin when they plan to arrest him, but Turpin sends the local policemen who arrest Fancey and Strapp on suspicion of being the highwayman and an accomplice. On receiving a message of Turpin's arrest, Roger Daley sets off for Dencher with his wife, but their coach is again held up by Turpin's gang. Upon finding that it was Fancey and Strapp who were arrested by mistake, he takes personal charge of the search for Turpin. Turpin's assistant Harriet is arrested after Lady Daley recognises a bracelet she is wearing as one Turpin stole from her. Daley hopes to trap Turpin as he comes to rescue Harriet but his men are outsmarted and Turpin frees her. After he learns that Fancey revealed their plan to Reverend Flasher, Daley deduces that he must be Turpin and heads to the Church to arrest him. Turpin again manages to escape, however, and the film ends with him stealing Daley's carriage and fleeing into Scotland with Harriet.