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Monty Python and the Holy Grail Movie Review

terry minor john arthur

1974 – Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones –

The silliness and irreverence of the Monty Python troupe meets the King Arthur legend in this often inspired comedy. The cinematography has a surprisingly impressive look and imparts an earthiness to scenes like the one when the medieval equivalent of a trash collector comes around with a giant pushcart calling for plague victims: “Bring out your dead!” When John Cleese offers him an old man who is just unwanted rather than dead, the problem is solved by conking the victim on the head and tossing him onto the heap of bodies. Some of the verbal comedy takes the form of contemporary attitudes grafted on the Middle Ages. Meeting the king (Graham Chapman), a complaining civil-liberties type is eventually led away as he shouts, “Come and see the violence inherent in the system!”

This violence, not only of the system but also of blood-spurting, Wild Bunch-type movies, gets its share of spoofing as well. In one scene Arthur fights a combative knight and severs him down to a torso, limb by gushing limb—even then the knight still taunts Arthur. This film has the distinction of offering up possibly the first flying-cow scene in movies, preceding a comparable moment in Twister by a good twenty years (it occurs when some fortified French knights catapult their livestock on Arthur and his men in an effort to repel them). The sketches get a bit more variable in quality as the film progresses and as the search for the holy grail becomes the rationale for a series of bits usually introduced by a page from an illuminated manuscript. Fans of Monty Python will savor the film most, but it is clever enough in spots to amuse just about anyone.

Cast: Graham Chapman (King Arthur, minor roles), John Cleese (Sir Lancelot, minor roles), Eric Idle (Sir Robin, minor roles), Terry Gilliam (Old Man from Scene 24, Patsy), Terry Jones (Sir Bedevere, minor roles), Michael Palin (Sir Galahad, minor roles), Connie Booth (The Witch), Carol Cleveland (Zoot and Dingo), Neil Innes (Minstrel, minor role), Bee Duffel (Old Crone), John Young (Dead person, Historian), Rita Davies (Historian's Wife), Avril Stewart (Piglet), Sally Kinghorne (Winston), Mark Zycon (Prisoner) Screenwriter: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin Cinematographer: Terry Bedford Composer: DeWolfe, Neil Innes Producer: Mark Forstater and John Goldstone for Cinema 5; released by Columbia Pictures MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 89 minutes Format: VHS, LV.

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