"Just wanted to
see if you had your price... most of us do..." -Guy Grand
At last! Finally one of the most hilarious
subversive films to come out of the 1960's is released to home video
proper aspect ratio. It's sad that we
had to wait so long to get a decent copy of The
Magic Christian, as the film has an excellent pedigree: it has a screenplay by Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider, Saturday Night
Live back in the 70's when it was funny), extra material by John
Graham Chapman, it stars Pete Sellers and Ringo Starr, the theme was
Paul McCartney and another song on the soundtrack produced by Pete
and a veritable slew guest stars. It's
also a wildly outrageous satire that is still as pertinent today as it
in 1969 when it was first released.
The movie doesn't have a real plot, just a series of
vignettes strung together showing the adventures of the fabulously
Grand (Peter Sellers) and his recently adopted son Youngman (Ringo
they make their way through the world revealing the hypocrisies and
values of society (and spending piles of Guy's cash in the process). They take special pride in skewering the
upper classes and those who think they're better than everyone else.
As both social satire and a straight comedy, the film is
excellent. In one scene involves a fight
for the heavyweight title of the world that has been fixed by Guy. He doesn't pay one of them to take a dive
however. As the bout begins the two
boxers start circling each other and then one spits out his mouthpiece
exclaims "You're too much for me" in an effeminate voice.
The two men kiss (off screen) and the crowd
erupts, shouting and throwing things at the boxers.
The man calling the fight announces that "the
audience is disgusted by the lack of violence."
The general theme of the movie is that people will do anything,
given the right amount of
money. They convince a traffic cop
(Spike Milligan) to literally eat a â‚¤5 ticket by offering him â‚¤500, and
climactic scene the pair erects a vat in an empty lot near downtown
fills it with blood, urine and excrement from a slaughterhouse and
in, announcing that the money if free to whomever is willing to dive in
They also poke fun at being prim and proper, and the
hypocrisy of a lot of societal norms.
While hunting with some blue bloods who are touting how they
quick kill, Guy unleashes a battery of anti-aircraft guns on a
none of that compares to the maiden voyage of a new luxury liner, The
Christian. Playing up the exclusivity of
their voyage and the application process in an ad (including a
apology to those not chosen) the sailing is the social event of the
so it would seem except that Guy Grand has his hand in things.
The film also boasts an incredible list of guest stars:
Yul Brynner in drag singing Noel Coward's
'Mad About The Boy,' Richard Attenborough as an incorruptible Oxford crew
coach, Christopher Lee as a
vampire (naturally), John Cleese, and a stunning Raquel Welch as the
of the Whip." If you don't enjoy the
humor, you can always have fun placing the notable faces.
The only real complaint I have is that the film isn't subtle
at all. I can't help but wonder what it
would have been like if Stanley Kubrick (who directed Southern's Dr. Stangelove and turned the script
into a universally acknowledged classic) would have been at the helm. As it is, the message is driven home with a
bit too much force. Even so, it's a
great film that's fun to watch.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the first time the movie has
been available digitally with its proper aspect ratio in region one
assume world-wide). That's a huge deal
for fans of the film. The 1.85:1
anamorphic widescreen image comes from a very nice unrestored print of
movie. It is a vast improvement over the
earlier DVD release, but it's not prefect. There are some minor spots
and some details do get lost in dark areas.
These are minor qualms though.
The stereo mix is decent, though the dynamic range isn't as
great as I was hoping for. Even so the
dialog is easy to discern and the music sounds fine.
Unfortunately, there aren't any bonus features.
This is a great cult classic filled with cutting satire,
impressive guest stars, and a lot of deep laughs, and it is finally
in a decent looking print with the correct aspect ratio.
Olive has done a wonderful job with this
funny film. Highly Recommended.