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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 April 2011
Many years ago I read an odd little book called "The Bed Sitting Room", written by Spine Millington (the well known typing error) and have since forgotten all about it.
Those nice people at Amazon recently suggested this newly re-released film of the book, so I just had to have it.

And what fun! A whole host of 60s stars (Ralph Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe, Pete and Dud, and, of course, the inimitable Mr. Millington), play this extraordinary, lunatic, surreal film absolutely straight.

Set in a fantastic post-apocalyptic landscape of total destruction (seems to have been filmed at a number of household waste sites) with lakes full of radioactive scum, and the ground littered with the detritus of millions of destroyed homes, our small band of survivors stagger on their way to being mutated into houses and furniture.

An endless stream of Goonish gags in the script (I will have to watch it several times again to catch all of them), soften the tone - but underlying it seems to be Spike's reaction to the endless (and often unspoken) Cold War fear of total destruction, brought on by our incompetent politicians (a lovely scene early in the film has Harold Wilson cowtowing to Mao Tse Tung, seconds before the bombs go off).

Brilliant, scary, sad and very very funny.
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on 21 April 2016
didn't use it but good item
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on 12 August 2011
This neglected treat is based on a stage play by troubled comic genius, Spike Milligan and his friend, John Antrobus, and directed by Richard Lester, best known at the time for having directed the Beatles' films, Help! [1965] and A Hard Day's Night [1964]. Filmed in 1968, another year when much of the world was engulfed in revolution, the film has a rambling narrative structure loosely based around the travels of a nuclear (or post-nuclear) family headed by the wonderful Arthur Lowe and their journey across the ravaged landscape of a post-nuclear-holocaust Britain. This blasted wasteland was, interestingly, filmed largely on locations that needed little or no stage-dressing; rubbish dumps and areas of industrial decay. The stellar cast includes Peter Cook and Dudley Moore as a pair of police officers floating around in a panda car attached to a balloon; Marty Feldman as the National Health Service; Milligan's fellow ex-Goon, Harry Secombe as the Man in a Bunker; and theatrical knights, Sir Michael Horden and, most extraordinary of all, Sir Ralph Richardson as the unfortunate Lord Fortnum, who is turning into the bed sitting room of the film's title.
With its combination of stark imagery and surreal farce, the film dissects the state of Britain in the 1960s, a state little different from the present day, riven by social inequality, lunatic bureaucracy, absurd or vile laws, hypocrisy and touching, if misguided, courage in the face of adversity, in this case the ultimate adversity. It is both deeply caustic and oddly affectionate. And it's got an underwater vicar. What more could you ask.
OK, I give up. There's absolutely no way to adequately describe this movie. You'll just have to watch it. If you like films such as Oh! What a Lovely War [1969]The Magic Christian and How I Won The War [1967], this stands a fair chance of floating your boat.
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on 17 May 2013
Richard Lester's critical failure The Bed Sitting Room has the distinction of being one of the strangest films I have ever seen. The British post apocalyptic comedy feels like a mixture of Becket's absurdist Waiting For Godot mixed with late 1960's British sketch comedy. While there are several good moments the film does not hang together very well and most American viewers are likely to be left shaking their heads in frustration.

That being said it is almost impossible to describe the plot of this film. Essentially there has been a "nuclear misunderstanding" that lasted about two minutes that has destroyed Britian and killed all but about twenty of its citizens. Of the survivors we are introduced to a few: Lord Fortnum of Alamein (Ralph Richardson) who believes he is turning into a bed sitting room as a result of radiation mutations; a family who lives in a underground Circle Line train (made up of Father, Mother and very pregnant daughter Penelope and her fiance Allan); Brules Martin (Michael Hordern) who may or may not be a doctor who is interested in courting Penelope. These characters wander a weirdly colored post nuclear landscape. Lester's use of color is quite masterly in the night scenes.While much of the plot is confused the family is trying to get there daughter to a nurse played by Marty Feldman. Along the way characters mutate into rooms and furniture. A police Inspector turns into a dog and the Penelope's father turns into a parrot who is later eaten by the family.

The BFI edition of the long out of print film is the first in the new Flipside series and presents an excellent transfer of the film. The dialogue may be a little trying for American audiences but it becomes easier once you get the hang of it. As I said before the film was a critical failure when it was released in 1969 but has gained quite a large cult following.While certainly not to everyone's taste the film while difficult is worth seeing. This is a film that should be experienced rather than understood and as such it's a worthwhile ninety or so minutes of your time.

Recommended but with reservations.
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on 8 March 2014
Maybe this doesn't actually deserve 5 stars but I'm just so pleased it exists that, in my head, it's achieved its own weird perfect status. It's a surreal post-apocalyptic tale following a group of individuals navigating their way through the remains of London, but the fact that the film became relatively obscure means that, even though it contains the absurdist humour and satire you'd expect from its creators and cast, watching it still feels kind of astonishing.

It's a self-aware and darkly subversive distillation of 1960s British culture – sometimes even seeming to poke fun at the bawdy Carry On humour or kitchen sink drama that was around at the time – but its sheer silliness and detached, nonsensical tone stop it from being annoyingly knowing. Also, the fragmented landscape and the awkward behaviour of its confused inhabitants often have a surprising poignancy to them so that, even when things are at their most ridiculous, the story remains compelling. The production design is great too – it’s not surprising that China Mieville and Evan Calder Williams used it as an ideal example of their “Salvagepunk” aesthetic.

But yeah, The Bed Sitting Room is not really sort of thing that can be judged objectively… just have fun watching it and marvelling that it got made (and then largely forgotten about). God save Mrs Ethel Shroake!
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on 17 June 2014
When this rental DVD arrived I couldn't remember ordering it - though obviously I had. I read the reviews and they seemed pretty good so I watched it anyway - all 90 minutes of it!

It's an impressive cast list comprising Cook, Moore, Secombe, Feldman, etc. - even Arthur Lowe of Dad's Army fame, though heaven knows what he (Lowe) must have thought of the script, or why he was willing to do it. I personally enjoy a wide range of humour from sitcoms like Dad's Army to farce and Python and satire, etc. And I've enjoyed some other books or films by these particular writers. But I never got into this.

It's about a post-nuclear bomb scenario (though for some reason no-one's willing to say the word "bomb") and how a select few characters survive. It's mad enough already before characters start turning into parrots or wardrobes. Sorry but I just didn't get it at all and, apart from a few good one-liners, it didn't make me laugh.
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on 15 May 2012
quite abstract and unusual story of survivors of
nucleur holocaust
quite star studded with plenty of well known faces
cook and moore heading the cast
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on 14 February 2017
Gift for a friend. Well packaged and dual format (DVD & Blu-Ray)
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on 22 July 2009
At last this long lost classic piece of sixties satire has found a DVD release, now I can dump that fading VHS copy I have had for years that was taped off the telly. The mix of the best of British comedy actors, Spike Milligan, Peter Cook, Marty Felman and Arthur Lowe alongside such classic actors as Micheal Hornden and Ralph Richardson is nothing less than magical.

Set in a post apolocalyptic London where the survivors are encouraged to 'keep moving' or they will morf into something else, like a bed sitting room. With Mrs Ethel Shroake as the next in line to the throne, a family living on the circle line train that only stops between stations so they can live off the chocolate machines, the army reduced to one man and a host of bizarre charactors in the ruins of London.

The tightly written script by, I would guess predominately Spike Milligan, and John Antrobus is full of topical humour and some surprising unpolitically correct statements, like 'No Wogs'.

This is still a film to be watched over and over to get all the jokes, after forty years I'm still laughing.
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on 7 August 2009
The Bed Sitting Room is many things, an oddball British comedy with few laughs, performed by a stellar cast of acting and comic talent, but is an oddity in every sense, the tone never quite gels either as farce or tragedy it is a curious and queasy melange of both. It is as if the Cormac MacCarthy novel The Road, with its bleak post apocalyptic landscape had been adapted by the Carry on crew and played out as a dark and very british comedy. It is wonderful to have it available, especially as it is such a good and pristine example of the work of the great production designer Assheton Gorton (Blow Up, The Knack, The French Lieutenatnt's Woman etc)and in Blu-ray format too. If nothing else it is a repository of fine quirky performances by so many character actors and comedians,so few of whom (sadly) are still with us. Highly reccomended but as a curiosity.
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