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The Great McGonagall  [DVD]
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Spike Milligan plays McGonagall, an unemployed weaver who decides to devote his life to poetry. He falls in love with Queen Victoria (Peter Sellers) and dedicates his work to her, despite a distinct lack of interest on her part and talent on his.
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Top Customer Reviews
Now, when's 'The Bed-Sitting Room' coming out?
It's surprising to see this described in other reviews as a movie Goon Show. It's not. Doubtless this misconstruction is caused by the appearance of Peter Sellers as Queen Victoria and Valentyne Dyall (appeared in a few Goon Shows). Whilst the Goons indeed found William McGonagall (and Valentyne Dyall) hilarious, this film actually belongs with Spike Milligan's Q series of the 1970s, and veers more towards the punning and near-the-knuckle racial stereotyping common in Milligan's work of that era rather than the absurd, cartoonish and timeless world of the Goon Shows.
The director, Joe McGrath, was best known as a BBC television director, having directed much of Milligan's output and some of the Not Only... But Also... shows. He had however directed a televised Goon Show performance for Thames in 1968.
The film tells the story of the life of William McGonagall, an unemployed weaver and tragedian, and one of the 'worst' poets who ever lived. He's best known for his poems celebrating the completion of the bridge over the River Tay, and subsequently describing its collapse. In fact, it's perhaps unkind to call McGonagall one of the worst poets; his approach where a line could be as long as necessary to get a rhyme in could be regarded as a precursor to rap by 75 years, if you're feeling generous. Here's an extract from The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay:
Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay !
That has caused the Emperor of Brazil to leave
His home far away, incognito in his dress,
And view thee ere he passed along en route to Inverness.Read more ›
The supporting cast of well known performers such as John Bluthal and Victor Spinetti enter into the spirit with gusto and the manic visual style of comic genius Julian Joy Chagrin as Prince Albert fits in perfectly. A lot of the scenes caused me to laugh out loud, especially the one where Queen Victoria sits at the piano playing a jazz version of "I'll Remember April," the sound being dubbed from an Errol Garner performance.
Altogether a very enjoyable production and a must for Goon fans.
This is one for the committed Milligan fan. I can't see it making any converts.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good service and price. This item was bought as a present so cannot comment furtherPublished 14 months ago by Jean Holt
Not the greatest work by Milligan and Sellers, but a couple of laughs - here and there. Bizarre and somewhat interesting, but twisted - but then this IS the Great Milligna!Published on 19 Jan. 2014 by Kevin G Blake
I love Spike Milligan but I have to say that this is crap. Could not even watch it in one sitting as I kept falling asleep.Published on 10 Sept. 2013 by DH