Thursday, November 10, 2005
The Lost Monty Python Movie??
Most people in the US discovered Monty Python, the great British comedy team, on PBS in the early to mid-seventies. Some of us had actually taken note of them earlier on DEAN MARTIN'S COMEDY WORLD, a summer replacement series that featured Jackie Cooper, Barbara Feldon and Nipsey Russell introducing new comedy talents from around the world. They showed a clip of, I believe, the Argument Clinic and I was rolling on the floor.
By 1975, the troupe had moved on into motion pictures, starting with AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (restructured TV gags) and the legendary MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. This was followed by MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN, MONTY PYTHON LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL and MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE. Technically, in spite of the fact that various Pythons have teamed in various combinations in various other venues, that's it! The group's entire official cinematic output consists of five movies...period.
So what the hell is this???? MONTY PYTHON'S JABBERWOCKY? Well, as you can see, that's how it was originally marketed although that seems forgotten now. Even IMDB doesn't mention it as having been referred to as an official Python picture but here's the proof! In actuality, of course, JABBERWOCKY is a Terry Gilliam film, written and directed by the now (in)famous director, inspired by Lewis Carroll's poem and much darker than a real Python film, in spite of the comforting presence of Michael Palin in the lead. Terry Jones and Neil Innes (the fifth Beatle Python) appear along with Harry Corbett (STEPTOE AND SON, CARRY ON SCREAMING) and it IS a comedy but, even moreso than GRAIL, it setsthe stage for Gilliam's later eccentric productions including BRAZIL, TWELVE MONKEYS and more recently THE BROTHERS GRIMM. The only thing that doesn't really work in the fiilm is the really cheap, DR. WHO-like monster, itself!
In those pre-Net days of 1977 when we didn't even have shows like ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, this movie completely snuck up on me. I assumed it was a Python film because it so obviously and professionally said so! I kept waiting for Eric Idle to show up! I'm not sure how long it was billed as such but JABBERWOCKY is NOT a Python film. It was something completely different: The first Terry Gilliam film!