Carry On – Don't Lose Your Head | 1967
Foppish aristocrat Sir Rodney Ffing (Sid James) moonlights as the Black Fingernail, dedicated to rescuing French nobility from the Guillotine, in this send up of the Scarlet Pimpernel story.
There seems to be quite a reasonable budget for a Carry On... film, even stretching to a few period locations.
‘Chateau Neuf’, the country home of Citizen Camembert (Kenneth Williams), is about as near as you’ll get to a real French château in the UK. It’s Waddesdon Manor, at the west end of Waddesdon village, on the A 41 six miles northwest of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.
It was built in the 1880s as a country retreat, in the style of a Loire château, for French-born banker Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. In the 1950s, the house was bequeathed to the National Trust and it’s now open to the public.
Not surprisingly, it regularly features on-screen, in Isadora, Hindi smash Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, and – probably most famously – the ‘rogue’ Bond movie Never Say Never Again. And it goes without saying that, like almost every stately home in the UK, it popped up in TV’s Downton Abbey.
Sir Rodney’s English home is Cliveden House in Berkshire, three miles northeast of Maidenhead (where locations were found for so many of the Carry On... films) on the B476 Hedsor road (rail: Taplow). Once home to the Astor family, the Cliveden estate is now also a National Trust property, and the house itself a luxury hotel. It was previously seen in the Beatles’ Help! and in Guy Ritchie’s 2009 version of Sherlock Holmes.
The formal ball, at which Citizen Camembert (Kenneth Williams) spies on Sir Rodney as he dances with Lord Darcy Pue (Jim Dale), is held in the Marble Hall of of Clandon Hall, West Clandon, near Guildford, in Surrey. Another National Trust property, you can see Clandon’s Marble Hall in a more sombre historical drama, The Duchess.