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  1. #1
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    RISE AND RISE OF MICHAEL RIMMER is one of my all time favourite films taking the best influences from 60s shows like "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" and before film makers thought that nudity equalled comedy.

    I saw it in the Cosmo in Glasgow on its release and it is one of only 3 occasions where I fell of my seat laughing. It didn't get a wide release and I was glad to see it a second time when the Cosmo brought it back as a b-movie to "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" and then it was gone - until November 1979 when I got my very first video recorder and it was the first thing I taped. I still have the tape (complete with TV ads) and run it at least once a year and always before a general election. Years later I taped it on Channel 5 which showed a more complete version, but there is still one scene missing when the cabinet is talking about the defence budget and I assume it's cut because it was in non-decimal currency. (The budget was 3 / 6d.)

  2. #2
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    BLACKETT: I'd like you to remember that basically you know, friends, this election isn't about money or material goods - it's about morality. The Labour Party is nothing if it is not a moral crusade.....It's hardly necessary for me to remind you what the Labour Party stands for. The Labour Party stands for.....well, erm...we stand for....we stand for.....we stand for.....Look! I'm not standing for anymore of this! Get that bloody man off the auto-cue. Pull your fingers out!

    HUTCHISON: Now, Michael - what do you think we should do?!

    RIMMER: Well, I think we should reduce income tax, reduce purchase tax and increase the old age pensions.

    HUTCHISON: You must be mad!

    RIMMER: Well, I think it's important that we honour our pre-election pledges.

    HUTCHISON: No - come come, Michael. No one expects that of us. The normal routine is that we say we're all shocked and staggered and then blame it all onthe last lot.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
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    Unfunny, peculiar

    They're great on TV. But when British comedians get to make feature films,

    they generally make turkeys. Even a genius like Peter Cook was not spared,

    says William Cook

    The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer

    Saturday June 30, 2007

    The Guardian,,2113831,00.html

    The timing could hardly be better. In the week that Tony Blair steps down,

    after 10 years in 10 Downing Street, the film that foresaw his PR-friendly

    style of government is finally released on DVD. The story of a slick and

    soulless spin doctor who becomes the people's prime minister, The Rise &

    Rise Of Michael Rimmer is a cinematic rarity - an intelligent and

    thought-provoking satire. Maybe that's why it's such a spectacular turkey.

    Every movie anorak has their favourite turkey. The Rise & Rise Of Michael

    Rimmer is mine. Anyone can make a bad film (and a lot of bad film-makers

    have succeeded) but to make a turkey requires talent and finesse. A true

    turkey is a heroic failure, a film that almost achieves greatness, only to

    falter at the final hurdle and topple over into farce. Turkeys don't just

    damage reputations - they destroy them - yet history is often kind to them.

    Unlike mediocre films, they usually improve with age. The Rise & Rise Of

    Michael Rimmer is a perfect example of this genre. Like all prize turkeys,

    it had all the ingredients of a great movie, including the participation of

    one of Britain's greatest comedians, Peter Cook.

    By common consent, Peter Cook was one of the funniest men who ever lived -

    the driving force behind Beyond The Fringe, the saviour of Private Eye, and

    the best half of Britain's best double act, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

    Ever since Cook became a star, at the beginning of the 1960s, film producers

    had been queuing up to offer him leading roles, but none of them had

    succeeded in capturing his strange wit. He was touted as the next Cary

    Grant. And then along came Michael Rimmer, and Cook's film career imploded.

    Watching Michael Rimmer today, what's most astonishing is its extraordinary

    powers of prophecy. Admittedly, the specifics of the story were pure fantasy

    (to the best of my knowledge, no British MP has ever murdered the Prime

    Minister by pushing him off a North Sea oil rig) but the generalities were

    spot on. Devised by David Frost, and written by Cook, John Cleese and Graham

    Chapman, Rimmer anticipated the absurdity of "interactive" politics, and the

    inevitable triumph of style over substance as politicians learnt to control

    TV. In another uncanny premonition of modern politics, any policy

    differences between Labour and the Conservatives are virtually non-existent.

    Rimmer's party allegiances are irrelevant. His only real interest is power.

    With appearances by bright young things like Cleese and Chapman, plus old

    troopers like Arthur Lowe and Denholm Elliott, The Rise & Rise Of Michael

    Rimmer could hardly have had a better pedigree. It even boasted a cameo by

    Harold Pinter. So where did it all go wrong? Well, delaying its release

    until after the general election hardly helped. Rimmer successfully

    predicted the Tories' surprise victory in 1970, but although the film was

    ready for release in 1969, the studio postponed it for a year, lest it

    became a source of controversy during the election campaign. As the late

    Harry Thompson put it, in his fine biography of Cook, "the whole point of

    the film was to predict the course of the election, but studio heads have

    often been and often will be morons." But the main problem was Rimmer,

    played by Peter Cook.

    In The Rise & Rise Of Michael Rimmer, Cook's acting was as wooden as a

    flat-pack wardrobe, as he subsequently admitted in a typically self-effacing

    interview. "I was suffering from Cook's disease, which involves that

    terrible glassy-eyed look," he confessed. "I belong to the school of acting

    which consists of doing nothing in particular. The variety of my expressions

    between shock, joy and terror are very hard to define." Cook was funny when

    he was sending himself up, but he had no opportunity to do so in this car

    crash of a movie. As with a car crash it's hard to avert your gaze.

    As John Cleese pointed out, Cook was never a very good actor. He was great

    at playing comic archetypes, from upper-class twits to working-class

    misfits. This was perfect for short sketches, but when he was required to

    portray real emotion he quickly came unstuck. Cook sleepwalks through this

    film like a man in a hypnotic trance. His acting is so stilted that it goes

    beyond bad and almost comes out the other end as modern art - almost, but

    not quite.

    Cook's film career never recovered. He got one more shot at a leading role,

    playing Sherlock Holmes in a remake of The Hound Of The Baskervilles, with

    Dudley Moore as Dr Watson. It sounded like a great idea, but the result was

    even worse than Michael Rimmer. Barry Took described it as one of the worst

    films ever made. Yet while Cook sank into a succession of humdrum cameos in

    humdrum movies, Moore - a lovable buffoon with a fraction of Cook's comic

    talent - became a huge Hollywood star in Arthur and 10.

    If Peter Cook was the only great comic who ever made an awful movie, then

    The Rise & Rise Of Michael Rimmer would be just another footnote in the

    piss-poor history of British cinema. However Cook's failure to master the

    big screen isn't the exception - it's the rule. Generally, the better the

    comic, the worse their movies. Have you ever seen any of Tony Hancock's

    films? Or Eric Morecambe's? Lenny Henry is a superb stand-up, character

    comic and mimic. True to form, his movie, True Identity, is gobsmackingly

    bad. "I made a Hollywood film which we won't mention," he told Clive

    Anderson, "currently in the bargain bin of your local video shop."

    The easy answer to this conundrum is that comedians are lost without a live

    audience, yet Americans don't seem to suffer from the same malaise. From Bob

    Hope to Woody Allen, US comics have always found it easy to make the jump

    from stand-up to cinema. Even Richard Pryor made a few decent films. No, the

    real reason why British comics make such bad movies is that the British

    sense of humour is all about refusing to take ourselves seriously. And in

    the end, movie-making is bound to be a serious business. There's simply too

    much money involved for it to be anything else. It's no coincidence that the

    few British comics who've conquered Hollywood have done it playing

    foreigners (like Peter Sellers, or Sacha Baron Cohen with Borat) or idiots

    (like Stan Laurel, or Rowan Atkinson with Mr Bean). If we play ourselves

    Hollywood doesn't get the joke, and when we make our own films the humour

    usually still falls flat. Like Peter Cook, Britain's best comics are

    destined to be heroic failures.

    OTHER DUDS....

    The Punch and Judy Man

    Tony Hancock

    Hancock could be wonderfully funny - but only when Ray Galton and Alan

    Simpson wrote the scripts. In The Punch & Judy Man he stars in a melancholy

    paean to the English seaside. The result is one of the most depressing

    movies ever made. Hancock committed suicide five years later. His diehard

    devotees insist the film is a masterpiece, but even Hancock's biggest fans

    admit that this glum film is awfully short of laughs.

    True Identity

    Lenny Henry

    Henry plays an African-American actor who whites up as an Italian American

    to escape the Mob (and ends up looking a lot like Jackie Mason) in a movie

    that makes Ebony & Ivory sound like a protest song. "I've learnt some really

    important lessons from the stuff we've been going through," he says.

    "There's black, there's white and there's meaningful shades of grey." Er,

    yes, Lenny. Warning: this film contains Shakespearean soliloquys.

    The Magnificent Two

    Morecombe & Wise

    The terrible two, more like. Eric and Ernie play a pair of travelling

    salesmen who arrive in a Latin American dictatorship in the middle of a

    bloodthirsty civil war. Part slapstick, part shoot 'em up, like Woody

    Allen's Bananas - but with far fewer punchlines. "If we had Neil Simon

    writing for us and Billy Wilder directing, I know we could be international

    stars," said Eric, plaintively. Sadly, Simon and Wilder never took the bait.

    Released in Canada as What Happened At Campo Grande. What indeed?

    The Rise & Rise Of Michael Rimmer is out now on DVD

  4. #4
    I finally got to see this quite recently. I wouldn't say it was awful - just not as wildly funny as it thinks it is. Beyond that, it is actually utterly fascinating as a slice of satirical vision.

    I enjoyed the prime minister's state visit to the US president, where he has to keep shifting up seats in an endless waiting-room like corridor and then finally gets in to see the bloke for about 30 seconds.

    It is weirdly prescient in many ways about the media dictated politics we have now - I guess the writers would be appalled at how accurate they were.

    The cast is excellent - especially Arthur Lowe. How strange to see Harold Pinter as a TV presenter.

    But it is poor comedy. And it all falls rather flat at the end. It is in the shadow of Lindsey Anderson and Kubrick in terms of anarchic vision of the times - and it is no Bedazzled in terms of Peter Cook greatness.

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