A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To the Forum 1966 ***

A Broadway hit adapted for the screen with Richard Lester at the helm; after A Hard Days’ night, the British director brought a similar manic energy to the Sondheim-scored musical and even if the result is patchy, it’s an interesting record of the original production, plus a slapstick chariot race. Several generations of comic talent, including Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton, Michael Crawford, Michael Horden and Jack Gilford, with Lester regular Roy Kinnear plus Brit favourites Frank Thornton and Jon Pertwee in the crowds. Rome is the setting for the familiar story of randy husbands, battle -xe wives and nubile courtesans; it’s clear that the original 1960’s Broadway musical was aimed at a male psyche. A few of the more out-there gags land, notably Keaton being kept largely off-screen as he sprints around Rome; another strange choice from Amazon Instant, Lester’s film is of interest to connoisseurs of vintage comedy, and of course the fabolous animations of Richard Williams, who contributed credits sequences here.


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