Monday, November 14, 2011

Cavegirl: Valerie Leon in Carry On Up the Jungle

Usually when we look at a cinematic cavegirl we first examine the cavegirl film she appeared in.  However, in the case of Carry On Up the Jungle (1970), it isn't a cavegirl film at all and whilst possibly coming under the Lost World and definitely the Jungle Girl categories it really doesn't justify a seperate entry.  We will, therefore, confine ourselves to examining the superlative gorgeousness of Valerie Leon as the leader of a tribe of Amazons.

Briefly, the film tells of an ornithological expedition to Africa financed by Lady Bagley (Joan Sims) to find her husband and son who have been missing in the jungle for years.  Accompanied by White Hunter Bill Boosey (Sid James), ornitholigist Professor Inigo Tinkle (Frankie Howard - brilliant) and his assistant Claude Chumley (Kenneth Connor) they get captured by a tribe of cannibals known as the Noshas but are rescued by the women of the Lubby-Dubby tribe from the Lost World of Aphrodisia.

L to R: Howard, Sims, James and Leon

Despite being totally studio bound this is one of the better historical Carry Ons.  This was Leon's fourth Carry On and she would go on to make two more. 

Born almost exactly 67 years ago on 12th November 1942 she was the daughter of an actress.  The twenty year old Valerie was working as a trainee fashion buyer at Harrods when she played truant to attend an audition for the stage production of The Belle of New York.    By the following year she was on the West End stage with Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. 

She started to do some small roles on TV (The Saint, The Avengers) and had her first big screen appearance in 1967.  The following year she appeared in Carry on up the Khyber (1968), possibly the best of the Carry On films.

For Agent Triple P she is best remembered as the girl in the series of Hai Karate aftershave TV commercials which ran from 1969 until 1975, where, driven wild by the aftershave, she would thrust her impressive cleavage towards the camera.  The appearance of a new one would be much discussed at school!  The nurse's outfit was a favourite!

Magnificent in Blood from the Mummy's Tomb

Although she would continue to have small roles in the seventies and early eighties, including the James Bond film The Spy who Loved Me (1977) and the "alternative" Sean Connery Bond Never Say Never Again (1982), her crowning cinematic achievement would be her dual roles starring in the Hammer horror Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971).

The Lubby-Dubby tribe costumes are obviously modelled on Raquel Welch's fur bikini from One Million Years BC (1966), complete with diagonal strap between top and bottom.  

Part of the way through the film she changes to a more typical Lost World queen outfit, sadly, although it is, at least, briefer than her rather too concealing cavegirl outfit which is more a dress than a bikini.

Nevertheless we can't give her anything less than 8/10 as a cavegirl!