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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum [VHS] [1966]

Zero Mostel , Phil Silvers , Richard Lester    Parental Guidance   VHS Tape
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
Price: 6.98
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Product details

  • Actors: Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford, Buster Keaton, Michael Crawford
  • Directors: Richard Lester
  • Format: PAL, Colour
  • Language: English
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: MGM
  • VHS Release Date: 6 Aug 2001
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005KISY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,438 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

From Amazon.co.uk

The words of the opening song pretty much describe the menu in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum--"Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone: a comedy tonight!"--a frantic adaptation of the stage musical by Larry Gelbart and Burt Shevelove. The wild story, based on the Latin comedies of Plautus and set in ancient Rome, follows a slave named Pseudolus (Zero Mostel, snorting and gibbering) as he tries to extricate himself from an increasingly farcical situation; Mostel and a bevy of inspired clowns, including Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford and Buster Keaton, keep the slapstick and the patter perking. The cast also includes the young Michael Crawford as a love-struck innocent.

This project landed in the lap of Richard Lester, then one of the hottest directors in the world after his success with the Beatles' films. Lester telescoped the material through his own joke-a-second sensibility, and also ripped out some of the songs from Stephen Sondheim's Broadway score. The result is very close to the vaudeville spirit suggested by the title--though anyone with a low tolerance for Zero Mostel's overbearing buffoonery may be in trouble. Oddly enough, amid all the frenzy, Lester creates a grungy, earthy Rome that seems closer to the real thing than countless respectable historical films on the subject. Frankie Howerd, who played Pseudolus on the London stage, kept the tradition going with his Up Pompeii TV series. --Robert Horton

Product Description

Director Richard Lester ('Help', 'A Hard Day's Night') brings his own madcap style to this screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's bawdy Broadway musical. Set in ancient Rome, it tells the story of Pseudolus (Zero Mostel), a slave who has made a deal to win his freedom if he can procure for his master (Michael Crawford) the beautiful virgin slave who lives in the house next door. Pseudolus does his best, but the forces of farce are against him, and his efforts soon come up against a series of bizarre complications involving mistaken identites, sly tricks, comic chases, unexpected arrivals and narrow escapes. Also starring Phil Silvers, Michael Horden and Roy Kinnear.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone 20 May 2009
Format:DVD
A cast of naional treasures bring a brilliant Broadway show to the big screen, in one of the most fun filled musicals ever created. Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics are used to great effect with the sets and choreography. Particularly brilliant numbers are the title song "Comedy Tonight" and "Lovely".

Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford and Michael Crawford give us plenty of laughs but the true star is the enormously talented Zero Mostel who has us on the floor in every scene he appears in as Pseudolus, the freedom seeking slave, a witty, lazy, lying character who discovers he may be able to get freedom after discovering his masters love for the girl next door. Buster Keaton's appearance as Erronius a man searching for his children is greatly appreciated and he steals any scenes he's in.

When Pseudolus (Zero Mostel) a slave finds out Hero (Michael Crawford) is pining for the girl next door, he sees an opportunity to help him win her heart in exchange for freedom. Of course the road to love is blocked by other people seeking their own best interests out. Could it all end happily?

Locations in Rome are beautifully recreated to make every set believable, as if out of ancient times. There are wonderful costumes, continuing the genuine Roman look, from the slaves to the Roman soldiers. Every building, chariot and extra has been decorated for a brilliant authenticity.

A particularly brilliant moment occurs in the Chariot chase while many characters are chasing and running away from each other. It's difficult to follow who is who the first time you see this scene and even more confusing for the characters as the people they chase down turn out to be men dressed up as women or alleged lepers.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim 16 Mar 2006
By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD
I first saw this movie in 1966 at a theater in Fort Polk. At the time, the term socially correct did not exist. I saw the play twice since then. Usually when plays are adapted, there is a loss of spontaneity. In this case, they replace a few songs with some better one-liners and facial expressions that would have been lost at a distance. They added in the obligatory chase scene where everyone gets mixed up.
The location is ancient Rome beautify recreated.
This movie is one of those farces where several overlapping stories are made coherent by one main character Pseudolus (Zero Mostel). He plays a mischievous slave who would do just about anything for his freedom.
Naturally the names reflect the character of the named.
Pseudolus (Zero Mostel) is a slave that wants his freedom at any cost.
Marcus Lycus (Phil Silvers) is in trouble for selling dud eunuchs and dud virgins.
Erronius (Buster Keaton) lost is kids to pirates years ago and is looking for them.
Hero (Michael Crawford) is in love with something called a virgin in the house of Lycus. (A place of dubious reputation).
Hysterium (Jack Gilford) is winsome.
Captain Miles Gloriosus (Leon Greene) is coming to claim his bride.
Somewhere in all this is a gaggle of geese.
If I were to describe all the great actors and plots this review would be pages long. So I will just say that this movie is "Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone: a comedy tonight!"
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
A Funny Thing Happened is a thoroughly enjoyable farcical comedy set in ancient Rome. The main protagonist is a loyal and long-serving slave who seeks his freedom from the eccentric Roman family he serves. Though frequently saucy, the film is family-suitable (definitely milder than Frankie Howard's "Up Pompeii"!), contains several good songs, and is definitely laugh-a-minute material. The plot follows the well-known principle that the only way to solve a knotty situation is to fabricate two more even knottier situations, all with the promise of Certain Death should anything go awry:)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Funny Thing? Hilarious, actually.. 1 Jan 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Despite seeming dated in these days of CGI Technology, this film is quite frankly, hilariously funny. The film (based on the stage show) successfully re-creates Ancient Rome, (but with a brilliant musical score), and many humorous situations surrounding the wealthy upper classes and the problems caused by their slaves and neighbours. The slave Pseudelous (played by the late, great Zero Mostel with panache) is desperate to gain/win/buy/steal (pick one) his freedom, but his repeated attempts at doing so mean that he lands himself in sticky situations, whilst taking his young master along for the ride!
The best way to sum up this under-rated film would be to say: think 'Carry On' in Ancient Rome, but with more wit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Blend 10 May 2009
By Muzkin
Format:DVD
Firstly, you cannot fail to be pleased at the price!

Sad as it seems, I bought this because I remembered being smitten by the 'love interest' girl when I first saw this film aged 9!!

However, I would describe this as a classic farce. It is a light, humorous film (with songs) and a blend of comedy from three different eras.
Zero Mostel was the established comedian of the sixties, with Buster Keaton in there from the twenties and Michael Crawford who was to become so big in the seventies.

This is 'Up Pompeii' on acid and I recommend it whole-heartedly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very pleased.
Published 2 days ago by D. R. Kelland
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
For drama club
Published 18 days ago by toots
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and musical
Zero Mostel at his best and a host of other stars with music to keep it on track, buy it
Published 1 month ago by dhills90
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Funny
I had never seen this but my husband requested it for Christmas so I sat and watched it with him and we never stopped laughing
Published 5 months ago by Zelda Abbott
4.0 out of 5 stars Naught goings on in Ancient Rome
Possibly inspired by the BBC series 'Up Pompeii' but a musical comedic adventure and just crazy comedy set around the time of Ancient Rome. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Charles Toshney
5.0 out of 5 stars a funny thing happened on the way to the forum
despite being made in the 60's and not having all the songs of the stage show still very funny and up to date
Published 12 months ago by trevor nunn
2.0 out of 5 stars Sound poor
The sound quality was poor it was breaking up all the time and I couldn't really use it. It's a pity because I was looking forward to seeing this film again.
Published 12 months ago by Mr. W. B. Simpson
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
just didn't capture my interest. i thought it would be funnier. Up Pompeii was more witty. Not good enough to endure the passage of time.
Published 14 months ago by Audrey
3.0 out of 5 stars A curiosity
Not the greatest of Sondheim's musicals, with surprisingly few songs. Interesting viewed as the forerunner of Up Pompeii and enjoyable for a single watch.
Published 17 months ago by starsailor
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
I had just seen a marvellous school production which, I'm sure, was more what the show should be. The film is claustrophobic in setting and lacks a number of good songs and... Read more
Published 18 months ago by John Lockyer
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