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on 16 March 2017
A flawless sale.
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on 17 December 2004
In April of last year, British journalist and author Robert Sellers published Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, the fascinating and thorough inside story of Handmade Films. Handmade Films is known to Python fans for having
been founded by Beatle George Harrison for the sole purpose of financing Monty Python's Life of Brian so that George could watch it. Handmade Films also later went on to produce Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl, Time Bandits, Nuns
on the Run, and many other famous British films. To mark the recent release of the paperback version of the book, retitled 'Very Naughty Boys,' Robert Sellers himself agreed to tell the story of how and why he wrote the book...
So why did I write a book about HandMade Films? Partly because nobody had done it before. It amazed me that here was arguably Britain's most successful film company of the 1980s, headed by an ex-Beatle in George Harrison and Britain's greatest comedy team in Monty Python, and yet no one had tackled the
subject. And what a subject! I'd always been a fan of the Pythons and HandMade's movies, especially the early ones like Life of Brian, Time Bandits, A Private Function and Bullshot,
but it was the emergence of a much darker tale that convinced me of the project's worth. I wrote very early on to Bruce Robinson, creator of Withnail and I, asking for an interview, and received a letter stating that he found HandMade to be a disreputable company and wanted nothing more to do with them. He was still probably pissed off that he never got any royalties from Withnail, despite it making millions over the years. So that pricked my interest right away.
Then I interviewed Steve Woolley, who co-produced Mona Lisa with HandMade, and for over two hours he ranted and raved about how he disliked Denis O' Brien, Harrison's partner in HandMade and one-time manager of the Pythons. He droned on about how O'Brien messed about with his staff and the talent,
interfering with the movies. I realised I'd opened a very bitter can of worms as other people revealed very weird tales concerning O'Brien's dubious business practices and paranoid personality. Of course, it reached a very nasty conclusion
when HandMade crashed in flames at the decade's close when it was revealed that O'Brien had been robbing Harrison blind.
Luckily the great majority of the actors, writers, directors and producers from all of HandMade's films were only too happy to relive their experiences and share funny and sometimes painful memories. I also spoke with the people who worked at the HandMade office down the years.
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on 19 December 2016
The eighties were littered with corpses of British film production,Handmade being one one of the bigger.It is a truly sorry but absorbing tale starting with the Life Of Brian and ending in bitter court proceedings.There is a very obvious villain of the piece.Though in mitigation he did give a lot of people a start in the industry.You can only feel pity for George Harrison who was cruelly misled and left holding a substantial debt.An excellent read.
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on 24 April 2014
An account of Handmade Films from Life of Brian to Nuns on the Run. A thorough and absorbing account, much based on old interviews with some unfortunate omissions. The chapters on the films are rather more absorbing than those of company politics and the choice of photographs is disappointing.
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on 26 April 2015
A well researched book and a fascinating insight into independent movie making during the 80's.
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on 18 December 2013
If you have any interest in British film , the Beatles or Monty Python, then this book will be interesting and informative.
What a shame that Handmade took on the likes of Penn and Madonna - if it was not for those bickering and childish prima donnas, along with the underhand and fraudulent Denis O'Brien, Handmade may still have been the leading edge of the British film industry. Nevertheless this is an intriguing read about the rise and fall of Handmade and the personalities involved.. an eventful decade!
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on 3 April 2008
A thoroughly entertaining, gossipy jaunt through the short life and sad death of Britain's most unusual film company.

Sellers manages to convince the reader that Handmade was a unique establishment and concentrates on the two figures at the top. George Harrison is drawn as a saintly, magnaminous but otherworldly character and Denis O'Brien is the evil villain. And what a villain he is: paranoid and petty, profligate and penny-pinching - all the ingredients of a fascinating rogue. Unfortunately, for all the people mentioned in the book, he exists...

Complete with some marvellously naughty quotes (especially from Richard Griffiths!) this account pulls no punches and delivers a witty eulogy to a much missed company.
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on 20 November 2013
What a letdown! I was really looking forward to reading this as the Handmade story is a fascinating one. Unfortunately, the writing isn't great and the author is so in love with all things Handmade, the book becomes annoyingly biased towards them to the point that I bailed out halfway through. Sample quote: "When Bullshot opened in October 1983, it was to an unfair barrage of abuse." Yes, how dare anyone criticise one of their movies! He also has an annoying habit of stating the bleeding obvious and reeling off newspaper film reviews in a 'will this do?' kind of way. Avoid this and watch Withnail and I, Life of Brian, Time Bandit etc instead; trust me, you will have more fun.
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