Category Archives: Films

PEZ Goes To The Movies: Alf Engers Aka “The King”

The British have a tremendous love of the idiosyncratic – one want only watch some episodes of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” or peruse some chapters of Edith Sitwell’s “English Eccentrics” as evidence – and this enthusiasm for the oddball has prolonged to bicycle racing. earlier than British cycling conquered song racing and before so many Grand tours fell to British riders after that, the British had a heat enthusiasm for time trialling, a cultish and simply home hobby. And considered one of the biggest fishes on this tiny pond was Alf Engers, nicknamed “The King”.
British filmmaker Ray Pascoe has made a vocation out of chronicling British biking records while it became all a completely neighborhood affair. we’ve got in the past defined the bizarre resistance to street racing in Britain and the boom of the home-grown time trialling, designed to attract the least attention possible as cyclists were recommended to put on black, show up extremely early hours to race, and understand wherein to show up via a code system. despite the fact that supposed to avoid trouble with Officer friendly, it appears to have emerge as savoured by using practitioners for its peculiarity. Its governing body turned into the street Time Trials Council (RTTC), formally hooked up in 1937, and now a corporate body referred to as biking Time Trials as of 2002. Time trialling remained the cornerstone of British racing while road racing began to lose its shackles. Into this uncommon environment came Alf Engers, geared up to race.

Alf Engers changed into born in London in June 1940 and labored as a pastry cook in the own family bakery commercial enterprise. He turned into a good athlete as a youngster, competent in swimming and as a runner further to his cycling however at age 14 he collided with a automobile and the following operation (which really removed his smashed kneecap and tied the ligaments together) ended his strolling days. however no longer his biking efforts and joining a nearby membership at 12 he began his racing career.

All of that is instructed in a fantastically engaging way in ‘Alf Engers aka “The King,”‘ which functions not best antique pictures but additionally interviews with the man himself as well as interesting characters from the time trial scene. Standouts need to encompass the same Higginson Twins, Stan and Bernard, who stimulated Engers to exchange inside the Fifties from the restricted avenue racing (specifically circuits in parks) to time trials. The DVD was made in 2014, the 12 months Stan passed away, and Bernard died in 2019 at 87 so it changed into quality to nonetheless be capable of seize them on video.

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Laugh along with Monty Python’s John Cleese in Providence

The British comedy legend will solution questions after Sunday 45th-anniversary screening of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ on the Vets.

Within the world of comedy, few troupes have had a more legacy than Monty Python. The British organization — John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam — paved the way for sketch-comedy indicates which include “Saturday night time stay” and “Mad television” through their BBC show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and movies along with “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “life of Brian” and “The meaning of existence.”

Cleese will come to The Vets auditorium in windfall on Sunday, Feb. sixteen, for a night of communique and an target audience Q&A following a 45th-anniversary screening of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Ahead of Sunday’s show, Cleese talked through smartphone approximately the Pythons’ effect on comedy and shared his thoughts on politics, comedy’s dating with the human circumstance and what people can count on from this weekend’s software. The interview has been edited for period and clarity.

Q: Monty Python commenced throughout the overdue ’60s whilst stand-up comedy and late night talk shows had been starting to come into their own. What made you, Graham, Terry, Eric, Terry and Michael need to start doing those sketches?

A: We have been operating collectively on and rancid, and sketches were what we did in the ones days. It become what we have been top at, because we in reality didn’t understand how to stretch it into a longer form. They used to make Graham and i snicker, and we were writing for Peter dealers on the time. someday, we determined to ring them up about doing a display collectively.

Q: What are you the most pleased with from a while in Monty Python?

A: The truth that I don’t have to talk with Terry Gilliam very regularly (laughs).

Q: Monty Python became also very political, with such sketches because the Communist quiz at the television display and the scene in “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” wherein there’s an anarchist rebellion.

A: That’s definitely the incorrect assumption. It wasn’t political in any ordinary sense of the phrase. It wasn’t even in reality satirical. There had been an significant amount of satire before, and we’d form of gotten bored stiff with it. In response, we made a deliberate try to no longer be politically satirical.

Q: For Sunday’s display on the Vets, what can people expect? Do you propose on doing a number of storytelling and Q&As, or do you have got any skits going on with different people?

A: I do some of different indicates, but in this one, we display “The Holy Grail,” that’s a favourite in the usa, from what I’ve been informed. The Q&A after the movie is completely depending on the target market’s questions. on occasion they’ll inquire from me approximately the political scenario, or they’ll ask questions about Monty Python. My daughter interviews me — she’s a stand-up comic herself. people ship inquiries to her from the seats, and she’ll decide which of them are interesting and what isn’t.

Occasionally it’s just human beings sending in rates like “What’s the airspeed of a swallow?” We don’t realize why they try this, but there are other questions which can be perfectly practical which include, “Why is it referred to as Monty Python?” which has a solution, however it’s a humdrum solution so she gained’t ask that one. The high-quality questions, of path, are the rude ones like, “Why couldn’t you live married?”

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Playtech Ace Ventura Branded Slot Game

Comedy movies and TV serials are extraordinarily popular. They create laughter in a international riddled with tension and strife. Playtech, a main software provider to online casinos, offers a number of branded video slots evolved in conjunction with such products. Some titles which have regaled players over the years are pink Panther, The Flintstones and Monty Python’s Spamalot. The branded slot being reviewed here is Ace Ventura puppy Detective. You can play it at online casinos like Omni

Jim Carrey is nowadays satisfactory regarded for his role because the bumbling hero of The mask. Inside the 1994 film Ace Ventura puppy Detective he performs a detective who focuses on finding misplaced animals. You could count on the high excellent and regular functionalities that Playtech is understood for. Ace Ventura is a 243 paylines video slot with low variance and a bet range that caters basically to low rollers. Carrey fanatics will by no means give it a leave out. but even in case you are not all that enamoured of Carrey, try the web slot because it offers a large number of exciting and progressive capabilities.

The Ace Ventura puppy Detective logo affords the biggest line payouts. However most likeable are the symbols that depict Carrey in his diverse avatars from the film entire with bizarre facial expressions and well-known twirls. Within the film you saw Carrey in long vehicles and those also are covered inside the slot recreation. The wild image is another depiction of Carrey. Being a branded slot, win animations encompass popular scenes and dialogues from the film.

The primary set of capabilities in Ace Ventura pet Detective are precipitated randomly and played at the reels. In the Jungle friends feature Ace calls his animals who randomly add wild symbols at the reels. In the Sneaky walk feature Ace walks throughout the reels including stacks of untamed symbols. The Loser function may additionally get activated in a spin that has no win. Then the reels are spun once more with growing multipliers until you win.

The loose spins characteristic is in which the most important payouts lie. It is brought on by using the rhino bonus symbols. you are provided 7 loose spins. Animal modifiers that are gathered within the base sport get activated within the loose spins feature. The shark awards extra loose spins. The elephant converts the slot recreation to 1024 ways. The bat adds random wilds at the reels. The dove turns reel three right into a wild multiplier.

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‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ Weathered Protests 40 years ago

Right here are some sacred cows in cinema, topics that you either can’t communicate about or which you have to count on to get push back on. One of those, possibly the largest of all, would be prepared faith. For some artists, it’s sufficient to imagine protests to make you want to persuade a ways clean of ever discussing faith; others see the subject and feel like they can’t do something however make art about it. The Monty Python comedy troupe fell into the latter camp with their 0.33 feature movie, released in August of 1979: Monty Python’s Life of Brian has lived a protracted put up-launch life, taken into consideration one of the greatest comedies of all time. But when it was launched, it turned into met by means of worldwide protests because of its daring content.
The primary setup of lifestyles of Brian is both hilarious and an clean way to court controversy: as opposed to one in all many cinematic versions of the tale of Jesus Christ, the movie talks approximately the little child born inside the manger right next door, from beginning to his very own crucifixion after a failed strive at being a messianic determine in his very own right. As within the troupe’s preceding films, And Now For some thing completely one of a kind and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, nearly each man or woman in the film is portrayed with the aid of the organization’s six members: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, who co-wrote the script together.
That script is nearly what sunk lifestyles of Brian earlier than it even got off the floor. As unique inside the parent in 2019, Lord Bernard Delfont, the chairman of the movie studio EMI, which had originally greenlit life of Brian into manufacturing, decided that he could study the script for the brand new comedy. That ended up being a terrible concept for the Pythons, considering Lord Delfont hated what he study and yanked the movie from their production slate. So, in spite of being big-name stars, the Monty Python contributors wished to pull together some million pounds in a rush.
Idle “had the idea of phoning George Harrison,” in keeping with the thing, because the ex-Beatle became the richest person he knew. by using doing so, Harrison changed into not handiest inspired to assist out: he created a film studio of his personal, handmade films, specifically designed to fund lifestyles of Brian in complete. Hand-crafted movies went on to fund and bring British movies like Time Bandits, Withnail & I, and Lock, inventory, and two Smoking Barrels. at the same time as the Pythons were capable of make life of Brian the manner they desired to way to Harrison’s generosity, the reaction of the EMI chairman changed into a hint to how the film might be handled subsequently.

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Cheapy and Sarcastic Comedy Movies

To describe the Monty Python comedy and the Holy Grail (1975) of Monty Python’s British comedy group within two adjectives, it must be cheap and insidious. But that is not a decry.

Born in 1975 with an extremely tight production budget of $ 220,000, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is always able to laugh at every generation of viewers with crazy, illusory, yet innocent characters. poetry, full of ideas. They are the Don Quixote of an absurd context based on the myth of King Arthur searching for the Holy Grail.

While films of the Middle Ages are always heavily invested in costumes in order to reproduce a lavish atmosphere, Monty Python and the Holy Grail are sarcastic voices when everything in the film appears in a grotesque way.

King Arthur (Graham Chapman) is full of humor while riding on a fantasy horse and using coconuts to make a sound that filters piles for a real horse. The creativity that made everyone laugh was actually derived from the very limited funding, so the crew could not hire horses. Laughter popping out of these scenes comes from the contrast of the act of fantasy riding and the seriousness of the characters. An unreasonable action is done very meticulously. It was amusing because it broke the usual frame of reference, as our imagination about the life of a king is to be extravagant.

Instead of telling a story about finding the Holy Grail, Monty Python and the Holy Grail are a mixture of surreal elements, but don’t make us feel angry. On the contrary, I was extremely pleased with the interpretations in the film. Perhaps the film is inherently absurd.

Terry Gilliam in his debut long film soon showed his mockery when building an extremely meaningless journey with a very tight structure. Although the situations are overlapping; like Man in scene 24, King Arthur’s army or controversy about swallow swallows. Done all is not excessive, they all appear intentionally and go back in the next situation.

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Monty Python Michael Palin: Comedy Love Producing Movies

Michael Edward Palin became famous when he was a member of Monty Python in the 1970s. Later, he had his own drama, Ripping Yarn, and also appeared in many films such as A Fish Called Wanda. For the past 20 years, he has become very popular as a travel television announcer.

Michael Edward Palin is an English comedian, actor, writer and host. He was born on May 5, 1943 in Broomhill, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire. Michael Edward Palin is the second and only son of Edward Moreton Palin and Mary Rachel Lockhart. His father, a school engineer at Shrewsbury and Cambridge, worked for a steel company. He studied modern history at Brasenose College, Oxford.

He was one of the members of Monty Python comedy group and then made some travel documentaries. Palin writes most comedies with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had many shows like Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report, and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Michael Edward Palin acted in most of Monty Python’s operas including Argument Clinic, Dead Parrot sketch, The Lumberjack Song, The Spanish Inquisition, and The Fish-Slapping Dance.

Michael Edward Palin continued to work with Terry Jones after leaving Monty Python in order to write Ripping Yarns together. He also starred in many films directed by his Monty Python friend, Terry Gilliam and featured prominently in A Fish Called Wanda. As a result, he won the BAFTA award for the best supporting actor. A survey in 2005 to search for The Comedians’ Comedian title, Michael Edward Palin was voted 30th by comedians and other people in comedy industry.

After Monty Python, he started a new career as a travel writer and travel documentary maker. His journey took him worldwide including North and South Pole, Sahara, Himalaya, Eastern Europe and Brazil. In 2000, Michael Edward Palin was named CBE for his contributions to television. From 2009 to 2012, Michael Edward Palin was president of the Royal Geographic Society. On May 12, 2013, Michael Edward Palin was awarded as a member of The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the highest award awarded by the organization.

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Monty Python’s And Now For Something Completely Different (1971)

“And Now For Something Completely Different” 
Director: Ian MacNaughton
Producer: Patricia Casey
Original Theatrical Release Date: 28 Sept. 1971 (U.K.)
Running Time: 1:28

The Pythons’ first theatrical feature was an anthology of their best work from the first two series of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Produced as a way to introduce the team to U.S. audiences, the film was actually a bigger moneymaker back in England, where the sketches had originally been aired.


Like the TV series, the film is a stream-of consciousness flow of sketches and Terry Gilliam animations. Unlike the show, they were performed without a live audience.

Among the skits included are How Not to Be Seen; A Man With a Tape Recorder Up His Nose; the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook; Marriage Counselor; Nudge Nudge; Self-defense Against Fresh Fruit; Hell’s Grannies; Camp Military Maneuvers; Mountaineering Sketch; the Mouse Organ; Sir Edward Ross Interview; Milkmen Collector; the Funniest Joke in the World; the Dead Parrot; the Lumberjack Song; the Dirty Fork sketch; Vocational Guidance Counselor; “Blackmail!”; a Reenactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbor (by Townswomen’s Guild of Sheffield); and the Upper Class Twit of the Year Competition.

Gilliam’s animations included the Cannibal in the Baby Carriage; Fairy Tale (featuring the black spot); Conrad Poohs and His Dancing Teeth; Catching a Bus; Killer Cars; American Defense; Rodin’s Kiss; and a shaver slicing off his own head.

The Making of

In 1970 Victor Lownes, the head of Playboy’s London office, offered to put up half the budget for a film of Python sketches that could be marketed to the U.S. college circuit. As the TV series had not yet been shown in the States, a motion picture consisting of the team’s best bits was seen as an effective way to introduce Python to American movie audiences, and attract fans who’d already bought the import records.

The content of the film pretty much followed the dictates of Lownes, a fan who wanted to eschew new material and only go with choice sketches from the first and second series of “Monty Python Flying Circus,” restaged (and reanimated) for 35mm cameras.

Ian MacNaughton, who was director of the TV series, took two months’ unpaid leave from the BBC to film “And Now For Something Completely Different,” which was shot in an unused milk depot in North London, with exteriors on the outskirts of the city. Filming took place in Autumn 1970, after the recording of the second TV series (but before most of that series had aired).

Lownes’ personal taste for Python sketches, however, did not extend to Ken Shabby, who was left on the cutting room floor. Lownes also got into a battle with Gilliam over the size of his name in the credits.


The film’s £80,000 budget was easily recovered in the U.K.; ticket buyers showed up despite the fact that the movie featured recycled comedy bits (and had the temerity to call itself “And Now for Something Completely Different”!). Columbia’s marketing of the film in its 1972 U.S. release, however, failed to lure audiences, and it fell flat.

Once Python began building a fan base in the States a couple of years later, thanks to PBS and the record albums, “And Now For Something Completely Different” was re-released. But an hour-and-a-half sketch film still proved a tough sell.

Test audiences for the movie, chock-full of sketches, seemed to hit a wall at just under an hour, at which point exhaustion set in, regardless of the order in which sketches appeared. It was a lesson that the Pythons took to heart when it came time to draft their next film, which – despite its knockabout elements – would feature characters and a narrative arc that sustained a single story (and audience interest) throughout the film’s hour-and-a-half running time.

They would also demand more creative control over their work.

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” 
Directors: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
Producers: Mark Forstater and John Goldstone
World Premiere: Filmex, Los Angeles, 14 March 1975
Original Theatrical Release Date: 27 April 1975 (U.S.)
Running Time: 1:30

With their second feature film, the Pythons not only redefined the limits of narrative structure (basically by ignoring them), but also took innovative and unconventional styles of filming and applied them to comedy. The movie sends up costume picture clichés, mythic heroism, educational films, and even subtitles – nonsense rendered with a Swedish accent (“Mynd you, møøse bites kan be pretti nasti.”)


The screenplay was a joyous romp through set pieces that sent up the serious, mythic characters at its center. As King Arthur (Graham Chapman) rounds up the gallant Knights of the Round Table to ride to Camelot, he must contend with subjects who are politically unfazed by his divinely-dispensed authority. He must also wield his sword against the Black Knight (John Cleese), a fearsome opponent whose gradual dismemberment fails to quell his desire to fight.

After turning away from Camelot (“It is a silly place,” he says despairingly), Arthur sees a miraculous vision of God in the clouds above, who sets forth a task for his knights: find the Holy Grail. (“Good idea, O Lord.” ” ‘COURSE it’s a good idea!”)

After a disastrous rout at a castle full of taunting French knights, Arthur’s band separates in pursuit of the Grail. Sir Lancelot (Cleese) slays a good-sized portion of a wedding party, thinking he is rescuing a damsel in distress; Sir Robin (Eric Idle) escapes an argumentative three-headed knight; Sir Galahad (Michael Palin) is “rescued” from certain temptation at the hands of eight-score blondes between the ages of 16 and 19½. Arthur and Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones), meanwhile, are confronted by the diabolical leader of the Knights Who Say ‘Ni’ (Palin), who threatens their lives unless they acquire shrubbery.

After regrouping, the knights encounter Tim the Enchanter (Cleese), who tells them the last known location of the Grail may be revealed only once they have battled a terrifying killer rabbit (puppet). The film’s climactic battle scene, shot against the beautifully austere backdrop of Castle Stalker, ends – for Arthur – on an unregal, embarrassing note.

The Making of

The group’s first draft of “Arthur King” contained scenes set in Arthurian times and in the present day. “Originally the script went through the Middle Ages and the twentieth century, and ended with him finding the Holy Grail in Harrods,” said Jones. His interest in Chaucer steered the project to staying put in the Middle Ages. [Among the modern-day material jettisoned were scenes involving toupees, psychiatrists and a boxing promoter, which were reconstituted for the fourth series of “Flying Circus”.]

The seriousness with which the characters behaved (such as pretending to ride horses as assistants banged coconut-halves together) made the jokes funnier, while the silliness of much of the story was made more believable than in a “Carry On” comedy by the realism of the settings and photography. The smoky landscapes, muddy locations and naturalistic lighting seem to capture accurately the Middle Ages. Costumes and makeup also reflect the concept of characters trying to eke out their existence in a harsh world.

” ‘Bring out your dead,’ ” said Terry Gilliam, is “gorgeous. Shit has never looked so beautiful! And because of that, it’s funnier, because it feels so much of a serious movie, a real movie, with real people groveling in the mud, and then ‘I’m not quite dead! I’m feeling much better!’ It’s funnier that way.”

As co-directors, Jones and Gilliam shared the responsibility of corralling the low-budgeted production across the location shoot in Scotland and at Epping Forest outside London. It was funded by a coalition of rock stars and record labels (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Island Records, Chrysalis Records and Charisma Records) and one of the film’s producers, music impresario Michael White (who’d brought a Cambridge Footlights revue featuring Graham Chapman and John Cleese to London’s West End in 1963).

Shooting for five weeks in April-May 1974, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was denied access to most of the castles that had been scouted, so Castle Doune stood in for three different locations. The tone for the shoot was cast on the first day of filming, when – having lugged equipment up a mountain at Glen Coe – the camera’s gears broke on the very first take.

In addition to mandating a whirlwind shoot in difficult locations, the skimpy budget of £229,575 forced the filmmakers to make many creative shortcuts, such as eliminating horses – thus setting the stage for one of the film’s most memorable running gags. “That must have been one of those very liberating decisions we had one day,” said Palin.

After a disastrous screening for the investors of the first cut (with faux-period music and an extremely dense effects track), the film underwent several edits before it was successfully premiered at the Filmex Festival in Los Angeles. It was acquired by U.S. distributor Cinema 5. (Its head, Don Rugoff, was given to narcolepsy and fell asleep during the screening, but bought it anyway.)

With ads announcing the movie “Makes ‘Ben Hur’ look like an epic,” “Holy Grail” opened in New York City in April 1975, with free coconuts given out to the first 1,000 ticket buyers (some of whom began queuing up at 5:30 a.m.). EMI debuted the film in London the following month.


Unlike the Pythons’ first feature, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The film’s anarchic spirit proved them masters not only of TV sketch comedy but of motion picture comedy as well.

It has also stood the test of time: On the Hollywood Reporter‘s 2014 list of Hollywood’s 100 favorite films – culled from studio execs, Academy Award-winners and other entertainment bigwigs – “Holy Grail” ranked #68, the second-highest of any film produced outside of Hollywood.

A 2001 re-release included a bit of footage from Castle Anthrax (in which Carol Cleveland, as Dingo, breaks frame and asks the audience, “Do you think this scene should’ve been cut?”); the scene has actually been trimmed from the original U.S. theatrical version. The re-release also featured a re-mixed Dolby Stereo soundtrack.

And in the playful spirit of Python, some DVDs feature subtitles of text from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV Part II” (“for people who don’t like the film”).

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Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

“Life of Brian” 
Director: Terry Jones
Producer: John Goldstone
World Premiere: New York City, 17 August 1979
Running Time: 1:34

“Life of Brian” tells the story of a young contemporary of Jesus who through happenstance suddenly finds himself to be an adored holy figure. The film marked maturation for the group, for while “Brian” lacks the breezy innocence that “Holy Grail” exuded (and is much less self-conscious that it is a movie), it is a complex, thoughtful and ultimately moving portrait of a character and his period. It is also very funny.


As the film opens to a choir of the heaven host, Three Wise Men follow a star and arrive at the modest abode of an infant and its mother, who gratefully accepts the gold and frankincense (and even the myrrh) that are presented to her child, named Brian. These gifts are then briskly confiscated when it’s discovered that a certain Son of God is lying in the manger next door.

The infant grows into a young man (played by Graham Chapman), who is initiated into a revolutionary group trying to free Judea from the Roman occupiers. Brian stumbles into the role of spiritual leader when he is mistaken for the promised Messiah, and the masses trail after seeking blessings and guidance. Burdened with the celebrity of his new position, and now a target of the ruling class, Brian tries to rid himself of his followers by professing that they do not need leaders for their faith. “You are all individuals!” he shouts.

“Yes! We are all individuals!” they shout in unison.

Imprisoned by the Romans and sentenced to crucifixion, Brian watches from the cross as in his coming death he becomes an object of admiration, parental scorn, and inspiration for a jaunty parting song.

“Life of Brian” is adorned with some surreal passages (Brian escapes certain death by being whisked aboard a passing spaceship), and filled with wildly eccentric characters: the Jewish Official (John Cleese) overseeing the community’s stoning of a blasphemer; the Virgin Mandy (Jones), Brian’s mother, who tells the assembled throngs that her son is “not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy!”; Simon the Holy Man (Jones), who noisily celebrates the breaking of his vow of silence; Stan (Eric Idle), a revolutionary who wants to be known as Loretta; Ben (Michael Palin), an ultra-right-wing prisoner who loves his captors with a vengeance; Idle and Terry Gilliam as jailors creeping out the affable Roman officer (Palin) assigned to crucifixion duty; and Pontius Pilate (Palin), whose speech defect completely negates his authority among the masses.

The Making of

During a promotional tour for “Holy Grail,” Eric Idle was asked what the group’s next film would be. His reply: “Jesus Christ: Lust for Glory.” The ridiculous title set the gears in motion for thinking about what would be a brazen new direction for the group, involving a much more controversial subject matter than their previous film.

“What attracted us [to the idea] was the freshness of the subject – nobody had made a Biblical comedy film,” said Idle. “So we rented a lot of Hollywood Biblical films, and watch Charlton Heston’s breasts and the sheer seriousness with which they treated everything, and this gave us a fresh look. Of course it became clear early on that we couldn’t make fun of the Christ since what he says is very fine (and Buddhist), but the people around him were hilarious, and still are!”

Michael Palin said, “We realized that the key thing – the way we’d done ‘Holy Grail’ – was to create the Biblical period so convincingly that if you put modern characters and modern attitudes in it, it would still convince as being part of that period.”

Terry Jones took on solo directing chores, with Terry Gilliam serving as production designer. Arrangements were made to film in Tunisia, borrowing sets and locations that had been used for the Franco Zeffirelli mini-series, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

However, mere days before filming was to begin, EMI head Sir Bernard Delfont pulled out financing after reading the script and deeming it to be blasphemous. Riding to the rescue was Idle’s friend George Harrison, who agreed to put up the budget (and even appeared in a cameo) to get the show before the cameras. (Harrison said he’d done so because he really wanted to see the movie, quipping that his backing was the most expensive cinema ticket ever.) Thus was formed Handmade Films, a production company that would later produce such films as “Time Bandits,” “The Long Good Friday,” “The Missionary,” “Mona Lisa,” “How to Get Ahead in Advertising,” “Withnail and I,” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

Again taking center stage as the lead, Chapman had stopped drinking and was in much fitter form as Brian than he had been during the filming of “Holy Grail.” He also took the bit part of the Roman Biggus Dickus, who – like Pontius Pilate – was afflicted with an unfortunate speech impediment.


Despite the fact that Christ was an obvious outside figure to the comic proceedings (He is spotted at the beginning giving the Sermon on the Mount, which those in the back of the crowd have a hard time hearing), many churchgoers took the Pythons to task for what they called a blatantly disrespectful and blasphemous take on the Son of God.

There were pickets and protests on opening day in New York, London and elsewhere, and it was banned in several locales, including Ireland and the Deep South of America, and even in two towns in Surrey that didn’t have cinemas. A passionate TV debate about the film was aired on “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” between Cleese and Palin on one side, and moral campaigner Malcolm Muggeridge and Bishop Mervyn Stockwood on the other. With an allusion to Judas Iscariot, the Bishop warned the Pythons that they would get “their 30 pieces of silver.”

The controversy, however, merely confirmed that a central idea in “Life of Brian” – that religion or spirituality should not be left in the hands of a powerful few – was sharp enough to sting even when wrapped in the guise of a knockabout farce. In fact, Cleese defended “Life of Brian” by calling it “a perfectly religious film” that makes fun of the way some people follow religion, but not faith itself.

Idle said, “It really is an attack on Churches and pontificators and self-righteous assholes who claim to speak for God, of whom there are too many still on the planet.”

Today, “Life of Brian” is viewed by many as the Pythons’ masterpiece, and its standing on critics’ lists of film comedies is at, or near, the top.

A footnote: Eric Idle’s song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” performed during the final crucifixion scenes, has become a familiar tune at funerals and football matches, and has been covered by such artists as Green Day, Art Garfunkel, Tenor Fly, and the cast of “Coronation Street.” It was also sung by British sailors on board the HMS Sheffield awaiting rescue after their ship had been hit by an Exocet missile during the 1982 Falklands War.

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Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)

“Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl” 
Director/Producer: Terry Hughes
Film Sequences Director: Ian MacNaughton
World Premiere: New York City, 25 June 1982
Running Time: 1:17

Shot on video, this compilation captured the jovial atmosphere of the Pythons’ September 1980 concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The film is a party by and for Python fanatics, with an audience of about 8,000 (many in Gumby get-ups) cheering and hooting each recognizable bit, reciting dialogue along with the cast, and engaging in sing-a-longs with the Bruces.


The show is a mixture of Python warhorses (Ministry of Silly Walks, Camp Judges, World Forum, Crunchy Frog, Albartross, Nudge Nudge; Argument Clinic, Travel Agent, Salvation Fuzz); songs (“Sit On My Face”; “Never Be Rude to an Arab”; “Philosophers Song”; “Lumberjack Song”; and “How Sweet to Be an Idiot” and “Urban Spaceman” by Neil Innes); Gilliam animations (such as the Flasher Love Story); and film clips from the group’s German TV shows, “Fliegender Zirkus”, (including the Silly Olympics, Philosophers’ Football Match, and Little Red Riding Hood).

There is also some pre- and post-“Flying Circus” material: the “History of the Joke” comedy lecture, from “Cambridge Circus”; the Four Yorkshiremen sketch from “At Last the 1948 Show” (written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman); and the Pope’s meeting with Michelangelo about the “Penultimate Supper,” a Cleese-Chapman sketch first performed by Cleese and Jonathan Lynn at the 1976 Amnesty International Benefit.

As a “Greatest Hits” compendium, it features some of the best performances by the group, notably Chapman’s solo wrestler, Colin “Bomber” Harris; Eric Idle’s loquacious Mr. Smoketoomuch; Michael Palin’s camp judge; and Cleese’s Minister of Silly Walks.

The Making of

The genesis of the Hollywood Bowl concert came out of the dissatisfaction the group felt over progress on their follow-up script to “Life of Brian.” Unhappy with the preponderance of sketches, it was proposed by their then-manager Denis O’Brien, that they instead perform their live show in Los Angeles, being promised a very attractive fee.

Planned as a concert film for potential sale to the HBO or Showtime cable channels, the recording of “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” was directed by Terry Hughes (who had directed two episodes of “Ripping Yarns,” and whose later credits include the TV recording of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Square Pegs,” “The Golden Girls,” “3rd Rock From the Sun” and “Friends”).

It was shot using a live-to-tape camera system, similar to one used for such films as “Richard Pryor Live on Concert” and the play, “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry.”

However, the resulting financial windfall from the L.A. shows never came. “We had taped the shows, and the money we were guaranteed we didn’t get,” said Gilliam. “So we actually had to release the tape as a movie here in England to get the money we’d hoped to get from the stage show.”

The Pythons agreed to open “Hollywood Bowl” in theatres, and then on home video. The order of sketches was rearranged from the actual performance, and much was trimmed.

With a running time of only 77 minutes, it is the briefest of Python films, but it captures the insanity of the Pythons’ early stage shows, which had previously only been preserved on record albums.


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