Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published November 22nd 2020
All 6 of their cinema releases looked at
As promised, following my Billy Joel and The Beatles ranking lists, here is a film list. But before I go on, somehow I missed the Billy Joel Album Turnstiles. I put it above The Bridge. That was me looking at stuff on three different formats. Sorry.
Okay Monty Python!
Monty Python were a comedy troupe/collective consisting of five people from the UK and one United Estatian John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam. They came together for a BBC TV series, which then led to books, albums, concert performances and, inevitably, movies. All six members went on to do many great things alone or with various other members of the troupe, and comedy today would not be the same without them. Yes, what they did was essentially popularise what Spike Milligan was doing, but that popularisation was what made them all household names and the style of comedy one that has influenced many that followed.
When it comes to cinema releases, Monty Python had six. One was a limited release, one was a broadcast of a live event, one was a remake of bits of their TV show, and the other three were actual films. It goes without saying, I like all of them. I actually own a copy of everything Monty Python books, albums, specials, TV show, the lot. If it was released, I bought it. Sad, I know. But I think they are the best comic troupe ever. Simple.
Reminder: my rules. I need to like (or at least not hate) everything by an artist, every film in a series, every book. I do not want to be negative, so if I say something is my least favourite, it still means I like it, or at the worst think it is meh. And there has to be at least five items for me to rank, to make it worthwhile.)
So, let's look at the Monty Python cinema releases, ranked from least to best.
And Now For Something Completely Different (1971)
This is sort of a greatest hits package of the BBC TV series. While done with better production values, and the sketches are as good as they ever were, it just lacked something. There was something about the way they were filmed for TV that was lost in the wider environment of the movie setting. And, really, some of the sketches were just not as good, either timing or look. Still, as a greatest hits show, it was fine and is well worth catching as an introduction to the Pythons.
Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five To Go (2014)
Filmed after the death of Graham Chapman, this was supposed to be a one and done concert at the O2 Arena, but demand for tickets saw it extended across several nights, with the last being broadcast to cinemas around the world. Again, it is a greatest hits show, but with the difference it is live and so they have an audience to bounce off. Some of the guest stars do a really good job, but age had really caught up with the Pythons and several times it feels off. Having said that, as a fun celebration of all things Python, it is a great watch.
Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life (1983)
This was the only Python film I saw at the actual cinema. I was twelve and it stunned me. I loved it. Without an overarching story, the theme of the life of "man" from birth to death through a series of sketches works surprisingly well. Looking at it with adult eyes, a couple of the sections are not as funny, and some of them drag on a bit long, but the songs are great and the great sketches are truly awesome. And watching Mr Creosote vomit then explode is a true highlight of my pop culture youth. The DVD has a few extra sketches cut from the final product and one of them is actually quite good as well.
Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1982)
The second live show, limited release at cinemas, another greatest hits, but in this one, they were on song! All the sketches hit, even the shambles of the 'Dead Bishop', the songs were great, the addition of Neil Innes and Carol Cleveland was perfect. This showed that they were great live as well as on film, and could just feed off the audience and knew their stuff. Apparently, they had a few extra sketches that did not make the final cut, and some of the quality of the filming is a little down, but this is a great show.
Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)
The story of Arthur and his knights has rarely been more entertaining. Some of the sketches fall a little flat, and the ending is weird, and that is it for my negatives. Some classics here the Black Knight losing his limbs, the French taunters, the wooden rabbit, the animations, the killer rabbit so much great stuff! And my DVD has two extras that are superb Michael Palin doing a brief documentary about using coconuts for horse sounds, and the Camelot song done in Lego amongst so many extras. Such a wonderful film, and one of the all-time comedy classics.
Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979)
One of my top three favourite films ever, the best comedy ever, and a film I have already promised to write up as a classic DVD review at some point, this is a truly wonderful film. Every single sketch has become a classic, and my Latin teacher in high school even showed us the "Romanes Eunt Domus" sketch on video during a lesson in 1986/7. This is such a wonderful movie. I laugh all the way through, no matter how often I watch it. This is my go-to feel-good film. And the closing song 'Always Look On The Bight Side Of Life' is a truly great but of song-writing and such a marvellous tune. Superb film.
And there you are the six Monty Python films reviewed. This has been a fun weekend of watching them two more than once and I would recommend any of them, really. But if you think you can only handle so much, go for the two actual films with story-lines at the end of this list.
Monty Python are marvellous. I cannot praise them enough.
So, what did you think? Did I get this wrong? And what about the format? I've done the three columns I promised to start, so let me know if this is something you'd like to see more of (and I will try really hard not to leave anything out again). Thanks for reading!
by mrs diane redman-heath (score: 2|112) 62 days ago
Well done. Your review of The Meaning Of Life took me back to watching the film in the cinema and laughing myself stupid. Mr Creosote. Once seen never forgotten. The one good DVD outtake.. I enjoyed Michael Palin as Martin Luther. You have nailed the order.