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"That's no porridge, that was my wife!"
on 4 October 2010
With a cast which reads like a who's who of British comedy during the `sixties, The Bed-Sitting Room is a big screen adaptation of Spike Milligan's play set in a very different Britain. Taking place a few years after a war which lasted less than two and a half minutes, the few survivors are seen wandering through a post-apocalyptic London, and some of them end up turning into an exotic bird or an item of furniture - yes, this is decidedly odd.
Surreal comedy was king at the time, The Goons' radio show was an institution and Monty Python was just starting on the telly, but this film was perhaps a bit *too* surreal for many.
There are some great visual moments which capture the holocaust ridden London nicely; rubble, glimpses of familiar abandoned landmarks, and a tube station in a state reminiscent of the blitz. Needless to say there are plenty of bizarre moments of visual comedy too which are played straight to emphasise the surrealism at the core of the film. There's a sense of a plot, but it gets thinner as the film progresses and turns steadily more strange. Instead of a fluid story this feels like a collection of visual gags which have been thrown together and although you can appreciate many of them, you spend too much time figuring out how they fit in with the film which stops you from simply enjoying them.
Most viewers of the film will have a favourite face they want to see, and for me I watched mainly to see Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore. The film is very faceted and so most characters appear frequently but sometimes only briefly. The more iconic comedians such as Cooke, Moore, and of course Spike Milligan always make an impression though. It almost feels like one of those Christmas specials where The Flintstones and The Jetsons appear in the same feature length cartoon, it's a big moment when a scene is taken over by a legendary figure who is no longer with us and even if the film isn't easygoing it's still worth watching for that.
This Blu-Ray release looks superb. I thought that as this wasn't a particularly glossy production, that high-def wouldn't do it any favours and merely enhance any graining - but I was wrong, thankfully. There are some nice features too including interviews with some of the cast from before the films production, and it's always nice to see some footage which otherwise may go unwatched.
In a nutshell: Some great ideas and incredible talents tangled up in a mess of a film which meanders between strange and genius. Not a film you can sit and entirely enjoy, but a film you ought to `experience'.