Scriptwriter

Norman Hudis Best Film Carry On Nurse
Films 6 - Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cruising


Born on the 27th July 1923, Hudis started his professional life as a trainee reporter on the Hampstead and Highgate Express.  During WWII he was in the RAF in the Middle East and wrote for the Air Force News.  He had an early ambition to become a serious playwright and he, in fact, did write several dramas including Here Is The News.  It did not get beyond a try-out but attracted good reviews and earned him a place at Pinewood as a trainee scriptwriter.  After two years apprenticeship with nothing to show for it on the screen, he took the bold step of going freelance.  He became a prolific writer of B movies, sometimes churning out three scripts at a time.

It was Peter Rogers that gave him his first break by asking him to write The Tommy Steele Story.  This too began as a B movie but was quickly prompted to main feature status.  He followed up this with another vehicle for the pop star, perhaps because he felt a certain affinity with Steele as they both came from the same Cockney background.  This script turned into The Duke Wore Jeans directed by Gerald Thomas.  

Rogers and Thomas had the rights to R F Delderfield's The Bull Boys and were looking for somebody to turn it in to a film, Hudis was the natural choice.  The success of the film Carry On Sergeant as it was renamed (the only thing remaining after the re-write being the basic premise) lead on to Hudis writing five more for Rogers before he was lured to the United States where he worked as a freelance TV writer.  

Hudis' Carry On scripts differ quite a bit from the later Talbot Rothwell scripts, with a more soft-centred approach.  Unlike Rothwell's most of his scripts are tightly plotted and the ends tied up neatly.  They are normally set around establishments or institutions where stern discipline is imposed by uniformed authorities, although it is the underdog who calls the shots.  In Sergeant, it the soldiers who win the day when, after being a real shower decide to pull together and win the day.  In Teacher, it the young ruffians, not the staff, who do all the running.

Many of his scripts have an insider aspect to them, for Sergeant he drew on his own experiences in the Services.  In Teacher we have him drawing on many of the issues of the day and in Nurse, his favourite Carry On, it reflects everyone's hospital experiences.  With Nurse he drew on his wife Rita's experiences as she spent seven years as a nurse.  As Hudis recalls, when he was stuck for gags, he only had to shout downstairs and ask her to recall a funny incident that she could remember.  In Nurse we see his use of real elements, when Kenneth Williams' reaction to Matron's inexplicable demand that he should lie on top of the bed clothes is the kind of reaction which every ex-patient can identify.  "If a Doctor asks me to hang by one arm from the ceiling wearing an aqualung with my birthday tattooed on my left buttock in shorthand, I'll do it.  He aims to cure me.  Your rule has nothing to do with my cure, therefore, it has no meaning in here".  He throws himself lengthways on top of the bed clothes and adds in his most supercilious voice, "Now, I wish to rest".  

The script of Nurse, like those of Sergeant, Constable and Cruising ended in typical Hudis togetherness with Terence Longden and Shirley Eaton paired off and everyone's problems sorted out.  It was Thomas who decided during editing to pull the famous daffodil joke out of the middle and use it as a climax.  In doing so he created a classic ending which went beyond Hudis and later films always ended with a dash of sauce.

"It is a thrill of a lifetime", said Hudis, when in 1959, he heard that Carry On Nurse was the top box office film of the year.  The success of Sergeant, number three in the charts the previous year, had also taken him by surprise.  He left it to others he confessed to find out what makes the box office tick.  He simply regarded the assignment as a chance to prove himself a comedy scriptwriter.

 

Filmography
 Chronologically (except Carry Ons)
Externally linked to IMDB

Talis the Porcupine: The Spagettiflyer
Hot Resort
Karate Killers, The
Koroshi
Mister Ten Per Cent
Nurse on Wheels
Twice Round the Daffodils
No Kidding
Please Turn Over
6.5 Special
Duke Wore Jeans, The

Death Over My Shoulder
Face in the Night
Mark of the Phoenix
Tommy Steele Story, The
Crooked Sky, The
Flying Scot, The
High Terrace
Hour of Decision
West of Suez
Breakaway
Passport to Treason

 


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