A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl

November 30, 2010

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl

We had intended to watch a completely different movie today, but when we put it is we were much chagrined to find that it was under fifty minutes long. (The box lied to us.) That’s far too short for the spirit of our movie project since it hardly qualifies as a movie, which left us in somewhat of a bind since we were therefore unable to start watching our movie until after ten PM, which hardly left us time for a movie before the night is over. So as an emergency backup movie we’ve thrown in this live performance by the crazy lads of Monty Python from back in 1980. It has two things in its favor: one it is also short (although long enough in our minds to qualify as an actual movie.) And two it is a complete joy to watch.

As with And Now for Something Completely Different this is just a collection of popular Monty Python sketches, but this compilation has the advantage of a live, and very appreciative, audience. Most of the moments I really love in this move are a result of the spontaneity of a live performance. During the sketch with the dead bishop on the landing the cast crack each other up, particularly when Terry Jones’ wig falls off. When, during an intermission, John Cleese goes out into the audience to sell an albatross several of the people he passes know the sketch and ask him loudly what flavor it is. There are people in the crowd with handkerchiefs on their heads Mr. Gumby style.

By far my favorite bit in the entire performance is when Eric Idle, as Mr. Smokestoomuch does his rant about the evils of package tours. It’s much expanded from the version in the television show, and as he goes on and on he runs down from the stage and escapes through the crowd pursued by John Cleese. He even bursts back out and continues his tirade over the start of the next sketch.

They also feature a lot of filmed bits from the special episodes recorded in German such as the odd Olympics and the philosophy football game. I love that they have the little red riding hood sketch, but am saddened that they do not include the rapists that live in the forest. To either side of the stage they have giant monitors (barely seen in the film version) that must have allowed the audience to see the actual show, since otherwise they would have been tiny little ants way in the distance. Most strange of all is that there are two non-Python songs from Neil Innes. Yes, he wrote many iconic Python songs, but his bits of the film tend to grind things to a complete halt.

All in all it’s a strange assortment of sketches. I suppose they had to figure out what would read on a tiny little stage from the back of the amphitheater. I further suppose that there were some sketches (the Parrot sketch in particular) that they were rather tired of being asked to perform. So we have the Whizzo Chocolate Factory, but no cheese shop. There’s the Bruces singing about drunken philosophers but no Spanish Inquisition (which, contrary to expectations, I HAD been expecting.) The cheer when Eric says that he always wanted to be a lumberjack is enormous.

It was quite enjoyable to watch this again. I love watching the Python guys (and Carol) clearly having a great time doing what they do. I love the early eighties crowd of long haired drug addled Python fans. I kind of wish that my family had been in California at the time that this was filmed, because I could totally see my father taking an eight-year-old me to see Python live. Sadly, it was not to be. I will just have to satisfy myself with the DVD of the concert.

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November 30, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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