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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum [DVD]

40 customer reviews

Price: £5.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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£5.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details Only 12 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum [DVD] + A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum - Original Broadway Cast
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Product details

  • Actors: Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton, Michael Crawford, Jack Gilford
  • Directors: Richard Lester
  • Writers: Melvin Frank, Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart, Michael Pertwee, Titus Maccius Plautus
  • Producers: Melvin Frank
  • Format: Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, Greek
  • Dubbed: German, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English, German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Jan. 2004
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000127MCQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,531 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

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.

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

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Piran Armes on 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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Mar. 2006
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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Webber on 3 Jan. 2002
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 By A Customer on 1 Jan. 2003
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 By Lord Anon on 16 Dec. 2012
Format: DVD
At times it is difficult to keep track of all that is happening. However, the film does have some very funny sequences. Zero Mostel puts in a great performance. Most of the songs are fun, "Everybody ought to have a Maid" is a standout, and the opening song "Comedy Tonight" will be ringing in your head for days. I didn't like the way they presented "Comedy Tonight" though, over much of the song they showed a montage of scenes from the film that we haven't seen yet. The song has so many great possibilities, why do that? Overall, an enjoyable film, but frenzied to say the least.
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