A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Monty Python: And Now For Something Completely Different

November 5, 2010

Monty Python: And Now For Something Completely Different

My love of Monty Python goes back to when I was first introduced to it back when I was about nine or ten years old. I discovered it on Chanel 2 – the PBS station in Boston and loved it instantly. It was full of crazy humor and slapstick as well as that unique Python off-kilter way of looking at the world. My babysitter at the time (I think her name was Liz) was very enthusiastic about the show – I distinctly remember her quoting “Crunchy Frog – heap good.” long before I had seen the episode with the Whizzo Chocolate Factory sketch. My father used to quote the show as well. Really I think that those early days of recording Python on my family’s giant old VCR and watching the episodes over and over again strongly contributed to my sense of what was funny. And spoiled me for all American comedy programming.

This movie is little more than a re-packaged best-of compilation. It’s a bunch of sketches from the show re-ordered and made into a film for the cinemas. Oh, it doesn’t have every great sketch. It doesn’t have the Whizzo Chocolate Factory or the Cheese Shop or The Architect Sketch, but it has plenty of the big hitters. It has Hell’s Grannies and the Mountaineer sketch and the Upper Class Twit of the Year and of course the Dead Parrot. Had it been produced in the Eighties it would have been a direct to video cash-in like Muppet Weird Stuff or other best-of sketch compilations I remember renting from Mike’s Video. But it came out in the seventies, at the height of Python’s popularity, and it was actually released in theaters.

There are a few bits of the movie that are clearly intended to be seen in the theater. Such as when a tiny little Terry Jones comes in as though he’s the manager of the theater where the movie is being played and apologises for it being so very short. And it also is in 16:9 widescreen, which I found interesting in light of the fact that many of the sketches seen here are directly from the television program and this was of course decades before television programs began to be filmed in widescreen. But the title cards on some of the animations are 16:9 so I can tell that parts of it were re-filmed in widescreen for that cinematic feel.

Since I’ve seen all of these sketches so many times in the past, and seen this movie so many times as well, I found myself tuning out a lot while watching it. I’d look up to see what sketch was playing next, but as I know them all by heart anyhow I didn’t really need to look at the screen to know what was going on. What strikes me most, therefore, are the few differences between what is in the movie and what was on the show. For example: there’s the bit with the guy who has a musical mouse instrument that involves smashing mice with a hammer. In the original version (from the cycling tour of Cornwall episode I believe) he says that the mice will sing “The Bells of St. Mary’s” but in this version the line is “Three Blinded White Mice.” They use the same footage however – it’s just dubbed over. I’m guessing that this was to make the movie more accessible to American audiences or something. (In the same sketch the compere loses his line about Conrad Pooh and his exploding knees – which saddens me because that is such a strange non-sequitur way to start the sketch.)

I suppose this movie would make a great way to introduce somebody unfamiliar with Monty Python to the group. It’s more accessible than watching a whole bunch of episodes. And I’m glad we get to watch it for our movie project, because who knows if we’ll graduate to our proposed television project when we’re done with all our movies and review every single episode of Python (which we do indeed own in one colossal box set.) My one regret about this movie is that it has so very little for Carol Cleveland to do – she really does have only one line in the entire film and plays mostly mute sexpots. But that was a problem with the whole show in general I suppose. If the boys had anything funny to have a female character say they just played the role themselves in drag.

Oh, Python. How I do so love that group of crazy guys.

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November 5, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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