'Opening Credits to '(Carry on) Follow that Camel'
In 1967, Phil appeared in three movies the first one was actually made for television, that film musical was called Damn Yankees! In this Phil played the part of Mr Applegate (aka the devil). Next up was an appearance alongside Walter Matthau in A Guide for the Married Man - In this movie he plays the part of a realtor, who is a bit of a cad!
His final film of 1967, was in one of the long running British Carry On series of flicks - a bawdy comedy called (Carry on) Follow that Camel.
Here Phil played the role of Sergeant Nocker, a part that was intended for Sid James but he was unavailable following a mild heart attack.
A lot of the filming took place on Camber Sands on England’s south west coast, however shooting was actually stopped at one point due to snow.
Of course the film's main claim to fame is the odd - but ultimately successful - casting of Phil in a key role. Asked in an interview, onset, Phil said this "When asked to do the picture, unlike Hollywood when they call and ask me to play a sergeant, I would turn it down because it 's too much like the Bilko series. But in this picture I'm a legionnaire and it gave me the chance to come to Britain and enjoy. I think the picture is in the tradition of the Carry On series, it'll possibly be the best one they've made 'coz I'm in it. They're wonderful people who I'm meeting for the first time....splendid actors. Jim Dale, Kenny Williams and a lot of other actors who I have admired for years in British films. The funny incidents, to me in the picture, are when they lapse into British expressions like 'When is a husband not at home' ....... I don't know what that means, but I trust them. They say things and assure me that in the picture it'll be a laugh. It better be a laugh because I'm getting a jolly amount of money to make this picture (£30,000). Half of which the British government will try to confiscate when I leave the country in disguise. I am having the time of my life, I cannot say I enjoy the sand too much because I've been given to wearing contact lenses and the sand gets into them but that won't be seen in the film. What you'll see in the film will be a lot of fun. As a matter of fact it better be a lot of fun because it's an expensive picture, I've never worked in more congeal surroundings, the director is a delight, Gerald Thomas and Peter Rogers, the producer. This is kind of a cliche but if the British audiences enjoy this picture as much as I've enjoyed meeting my maties over here, then they'll have a huge success on their hands."
Gerald Thomas & Peter Rogers celebrate Phil's 56th Birthday!
Phil's vaudeville style of comic banter matches that of the regular team members' music hall delivery to such an extent that you forget any difference in accent.
I personally think Phil's as much at home in this film as many of the other one-off performers we've seen in the series, such as Bob Monkhouse, Ted Ray, Fenella Fielding or Harry H Corbett. Of the regulars, Jim Dale and Peter Butterworth stand out for their nicely understated performances, especially the former, who has presumably discovered that to be funny, 'less is more'. Kenneth Williams, clearly relishing the chance to do something a bit different, makes the most of his sadistic German Commandant (complete with brutal haircut and monocle), while an ever-reliable Charles Hawtrey minces around as his second-in-command, Le Pice. Bernard Bresslaw is excellent as the villain, a role he would repeat nearly word for word for Carry on up the Khyber.
The plot follows Beau (Jim Dale) and his Butler (Peter Butterworth) join the foreign legion in the 1800s whilst there they encounter the conniving Sergeant Nocker (Phil). Nocker is pretty much just Bilko in the 1800s, which is ok by me as Phil's creation of Ernie Bilko is a comic legend, who is hilarious even now!
Up to his neck in it!
All tied up!
1968, Phil appears in the movie Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell - he plays Phil Newman, one of three men of the U.S. Army Air Force , who all had affairs with the same Italian woman during World War II. Gina Lollobrigida plays Carla. the Italian woman in question, in Melvin Frank's comic farce. Phil as Phil Newman is joined by Peter Lawford (Justin Young) and Telly Savalas (Walter Braddock) as the three military men.
Finding that she is pregnant after the squadron is transferred, Carla convinces each of the three soldiers that he is the father of her child. Phil, Justin, and Walter react to Carla's pregnancy by sending her child-support money -- money that Carla has been receiving every month from each of them for the past twenty years. Meanwhile, in order to save face in her village, Carla concocted the story that the father was the fictitious Captain Eddie Campbell, who was killed in action. But Carla's deceptions are about to be exposed when she finds out that all three soldiers are returning to her village with their wives and children for a reunion of the squadron.
The script harks back to Hollywood's great screwball comedies, with especially good jobs from Phil and Telly Savalas with Shelley Winters and Lee Grant as their wives. But it's Gina Lollobrigida who steals the movie with her glamorous style. In fact she was even nominated for a Golden Globe in the category Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy. She also won the David di Donatello Award for best actress.
Interestingly the script was part-written by Denis Norden - well known in the UK for his fronting of the It'll Be Alright on the Night blooper show.
In 2008 the highly successful film musical Mamma Mia has a plot that revolves around three potential fathers vying to prove they fathered a child!
1969 saw Phil have a charming reunion with Buddy Ebsen (remember Yokel Boy in the 1930s) when he took a recurring role as a con man on The Beverly Hillbillies. Here he would play Shifty Shafer (aka Honest John).
Between 1969 and 1970, Phil appeared in six episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies. Three of them called; The Pollution Solution - The Clampetts in Washington and Jed Buys the Capitol ran consecutively as a running story. The plot was that the Clampetts arrive in Washington, DC, where they plan to donate their entire fortune to the cause of ending air pollution in the United States of America. Though they intend to pay a visit to President Nixon, they are sidetracked by their old acquaintance Honest John actually, con artist Shifty Shafer (Phil). Claiming to be deeply touched by the Clampetts' ecological sentiments, Shafer schemes to deeply touch the Clampetts to the tune of several million dollars. Kathleen Freeman, Shifty Shafer's equally crooked wife Flo, poses as Sitting Hawk.
Walt Disney Studios came looking for Phil in 1970. They wanted him to play the role of Harry Simmons in their new up an coming movie, The Boatniks. Some old acquaintances were also down to guest star in the film, they were Joe E. Ross (Ruprt Ritzik in the Bilko series), Al Lewis (Moe Shtarker in the hit musical comedy Do Re Mi) and Bob Hastings (Sergeant Baycher in Bilko).
Robert Morse, Stefanie Powers and Phil set sail for laughs with an all-star cast and crew. The comedy never runs aground when the Coast Guard's cockeyed Ensign Garland (Morse) takes command. It's sink or swim as the accident-prone ensign goes overboard for Kate (Powers), steams after a trio of naughty nautical jewel thieves and navigates the wake of mishap after mishap on one of the funniest waterways ever. Come aboard for a pleasure cruise of classic Disney clowning that's awash with fun from ship to shore! As usual Phil steals the film, along with drop-dead-deadpan Norman Fell, and Mickey Shaughnessy, these three heistmen are probably the most useless crooks seen on film. Scene after scene blows up in their faces. They were off towards Mexico when the cops, hot in pursuit, closed the borders. Trying to hideout at the coast, they inadvertently drop their picnic basket full of jewels into the shallow coast waters. One question remains - How did this inept trio manage to steal the jewels in the first place?
1971 saw Phil go back to what he loved most.........appearing on stage. He had the lead role in the comedy, How the Other Half Loves. Phil played Frank Foster in this Broadway farce. The play had eight "tryouts" before it eventually opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 45th Street, New York, March 29, 1971.
The stage has a single set, which represents two separate but over-lapping living rooms. One is a smart room with reproduction period furniture (the Fosters’ home); the other more contemporary and shabby (The Phillips’ home). Action takes place in both houses simultaneously allowing the playwright to play with both stage space and time during the course of the play. Alan Ayckbourn firmly believes for the play to work it has to be set as a period piece in late 1969.
When first seen, this innovative play takes a little while for audiences to get accustomed to the crossover/simultaneous action, but once you do understand the idea, its cleverness is admirable. If you’ve seen it before, there’s time to appreciate the writing and technique.
Also in tne play was Richard Mulligan, he who would later be best-known as Burt Campbell in the hit television sitcom Soap, the part which won him Best Actor Emmy Award,
Up-and-coming UK playwright, Alan Ayckbourn penned the play just after he'd had a caning in the English theatres when his drama, The Sparrow only ran for three weeks in Scarborough! However, this following play, secured his runaway success as a playwright. He'd go on to have huge success with Absurd Person Singular (1975), The Norman Conquests trilogy (1973) and Bedroom Farce (1975).
How the Other Half Loves is a highly entertaining play which combines a well-blended cast with the wickedly human observations of Ayckbourn’s clever craftsmanship.
This comedy farce closed on June 26, 1971 after 104 performances. Even today it 's still going strong, being given airings all across America.
'A masterpiece of comedy' - WABC-TV
Phil with Sandy Dennis
Phil as Frank Foster with Tom Aldredge as William Detweiler