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Carry On Cleo

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Carry On Cleo
Original UK quad poster
Directed byGerald Thomas
Written byTalbot Rothwell
Produced byPeter Rogers
CinematographyAlan Hume
Edited byArchie Ludski
Music byEric Rogers
Distributed byAnglo-Amalgamated
Release date
  • 10 December 1964 (1964-12-10)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Carry On Cleo is a 1964 British historical comedy film, the tenth in the series of 31 Carry On films (1958–1992). Regulars Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey, and Jim Dale are present and Connor made his last appearance until his return in Carry On Up the Jungle six years later. Joan Sims returned to the series for the first time since Carry On Regardless three years earlier. Sims would now appear in every Carry On up to Carry On Emmannuelle in 1978, making her the most prolific actress in the series. Jon Pertwee makes the first of his four appearances in the series. The title role is played by Amanda Barrie in her second and last Carry On. Along with Carry On Sergeant and Carry On Screaming!, its original posters were reproduced by the Royal Mail on stamps to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Carry On series in June 2008. The film was followed by Carry On Cowboy 1965.


The film opens during Caesar's invasions of Britain, with Mark Antony (Sid James) struggling to lead his armies through miserable weather. At a nearby village, cavemen Horsa (Jim Dale) and Hengist Pod (Kenneth Connor) attempt to alert Boudica to the invasion, but are captured by the Romans.

Once in Rome, Horsa is sold by the slave-trading firm Marcus et Spencius, and Hengist is destined to be thrown to the lions when no-one agrees to buy him. Horsa and Hengist escape and take refuge in the Temple of Vesta. Whilst hiding there, Julius Caesar (Kenneth Williams) arrives to consult the Vestal Virgins, but an attempt is made on his life by his bodyguard, Bilius (David Davenport). In the melee, Horsa kills Bilius and escapes, leaving Hengist to take the credit for saving Caesar's life and to be made Caesar's new bodyguard.

When a power struggle emerges in Egypt, Mark Antony is sent to force Cleopatra (Amanda Barrie) to abdicate in favour of Ptolemy. However, Mark Antony becomes besotted with her, and instead kills Ptolemy off-screen to win her favour. Cleopatra convinces Mark Antony to kill Caesar and become ruler of Rome himself so that they may rule a powerful Roman-Egyptian alliance together. After seducing one another, Mark Antony agrees, and plots to kill Caesar.

Caesar and Hengist travel to Egypt on a galley, along with Agrippa (Francis de Wolff), whom Mark Antony has convinced to kill Caesar. However, Horsa has been re-captured and is now a slave on Caesar's galley. After killing the galley-master (Peter Gilmore), Horsa and the galley slaves kill Agrippa and his fellow assassins and swim to Egypt. Hengist, who had been sent out to fight Agrippa and was unaware of Horsa's presence on board, again takes the credit.

Once at Cleopatra's palace, an Egyptian soothsayer (Jon Pertwee) warns Caesar of the plot to kill him, but Mark Anthony convinces Caesar not to flee. Instead, Caesar convinces Hengist to change places with him, since Cleopatra and Caesar have never met. On meeting, Cleopatra lures Hengist, who accidentally exposes both Cleopatra and Mark Anthony as would-be assassins. He and Caesar then ally with Horsa, and after defeating Cleopatra's bodyguard Sosages (Tom Clegg) in combat, Hengist and the party flee Egypt. Caesar is returned to Rome, only to be assassinated on the Ides of March. Horsa and Hengist return to Britain, and Mark Antony is left in Egypt to live "one long Saturday night" with Cleopatra.

Background notes[edit]

The costumes and sets used in the film were originally intended for Cleopatra (1963) before that production moved to Rome and rebuilt new sets there.[3] Carry On Cleo was filmed between 13 July and 28 August 1964.[4]

The original poster and publicity artwork by Tom Chantrell were withdrawn from circulation after 20th Century Fox successfully brought a copyright infringement case against distributor Anglo Amalgamated, which found the design was based on a painting by Howard Terpning for which Fox owned the copyright and was used to promote the Cleopatra film.[5][6][7]


Filming and locations[edit]

  • Filming dates: 13 July – 28 August 1964



The film premiered at London's Warner cinema on 10 December 1964[1] and went on to become one of the 12 most popular movies at the British box office in 1965.[8]

Colin McCabe, Professor of English at the University of Exeter, labelled this film (together with Carry On Up the Khyber) as one of the best films of all time.[9]

In 2007, the pun "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me", spoken by Kenneth Williams, was voted the funniest one-line joke in film history.[10][11] The line was not written by Rothwell but borrowed with permission from a Take It from Here script written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden.[12][13]

In a 2018 retrospective on the series, the British Film Institute named Carry on Cleo as one of the series' five best films, alongside Carry On Screaming (1966), Carry On Up The Khyber (1968), Carry On Camping (1969), and Carry on Matron (1972).[14]


  1. ^ a b "Carry On Cleo". Art & Hue. 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  2. ^ Robert Ross, ITV-DVD Edition
  3. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Carry On Cleo (1964)".
  4. ^ "the studiotour.com - Carry on Cleo (1964)". www.thestudiotour.com.
  5. ^ Webber, Richard (2009). 50 Years of Carry On. London: Arrow. ISBN 978-0-09-949007-4.
  6. ^ "Cleopatra Scores Over Cleo in Court". The Washington Post and Times-Herald. 22 January 1965. p. A16.
  7. ^ "Ban on posters for 'Cleopatra' satire". The Guardian. No. 36871. 22 January 1965. p. 5. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Most Popular Film Star", Times, London, England, 31 Dec 1965, page 13. The Times Digital Archive, retrieved 11 July 2012.
  9. ^ McCabe, Colin (29 January 1999). "Why Carry On Cleo and Carry On Up the Khyber are two of the best films ever". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Carry On quip tops one-liner poll". BBC News. 4 April 2007.
  11. ^ "Infamy, infamy is the top one liner". The Telegraph. 4 April 2007.
  12. ^ "Classic Laughing Matter at the University" (Press release). 4 October 2000.
  13. ^ "Obituary Denis Norden". BBC News. 19 September 2018.
  14. ^ Mitchell, Neil (23 November 2018). "The 5 best Carry Ons… and the 5 worst". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 15 April 2023. Retrieved 12 April 2024.


  • Davidson, Andy (2012). Carry On Confidential. London: Miwk. ISBN 978-1-908630-01-8.
  • Sheridan, Simon (2011). Keeping the British End Up – Four Decades of Saucy Cinema. London: Titan Books. ISBN 978-0-85768-279-6.
  • Webber, Richard (2009). 50 Years of Carry On. London: Arrow. ISBN 978-0-09-949007-4.
  • Hudis, Norman (2008). No Laughing Matter. London: Apex. ISBN 978-1-906358-15-0.
  • Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema by Simon Sheridan (third edition) (2007) (Reynolds & Hearn Books)
  • Ross, Robert (2002). The Carry On Companion. London: Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8771-8.
  • Bright, Morris; Ross, Robert (2000). Mr Carry On – The Life & Work of Peter Rogers. London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-55183-6.
  • Rigelsford, Adrian (1996). Carry On Laughing – a celebration. London: Virgin. ISBN 1-85227-554-5.
  • Hibbin, Sally & Nina (1988). What a Carry On. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-55819-4.
  • Eastaugh, Kenneth (1978). The Carry On Book. London: David & Charles. ISBN 978-0-7153-7403-0.

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