Carry On Girls (1973) *

In retrospect, this is when it all started to end. Both a bitingly cynical portrait of a down-at-heel English seaside resort and a nostalgic, Donald McGillish farce about an end of the pier beauty contest, it also acknowledges those forces that would rob the series of its essential defining innocence and bring about its end, in the form of June Whitfield’s humourless band of mannish women’s libbers, and self-confessed window cleaner Robin Askwith as a gormless photographer taking hardcore glamour shots of Margaret Nolan on the beach.
It tries to laugh off the libbers and give ground to the liberators with some slightly more risque material than usual, but between the disapproval of the one and the other making them look hopelessly old-fashioned, there was nowhere for the Carry Ons to go. As a last gesture from the sinking ship, however, this is an appealingly blown raspberry, with Williamsless but otherwise all-cylinders teamwork, and pleasingly greater prominence for unsung stalwarts Margaret Nolan (whose complete misreading of the line "I wouldn't be seen dead in your old rags" is one of the film's highlights) and Valerie Leon (bizarrely dubbed by June Whitfield: alas, she doesn't quite share a dialogue exchange with Whitfield's own character, but they get teasingly close).