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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

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Overview

Stephen Sondheim's first solo Broadway musical was turned into a lively cinematic romp by director Richard Lester, which suffers from perhaps an occasional overabundance of Lester-isms. The quick cuts and sight gags that worked so well on It's Trad, Dad, A Hard Day's Night, and Help! are a little distracting at times from the jokey script, which has fun with all manner of conceits about the ancient world and the timeless nature of human foibles. On the other hand, Lester himself has always maintained that he ...
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Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton, Michael Crawford, Jack Gilford 04/18/2000 DVD Fine 1966 Run time: 99. Books, CDs, DVDs, Videogames, LPs & more! Fast shipping! All ... items guaranteed! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Stephen Sondheim's first solo Broadway musical was turned into a lively cinematic romp by director Richard Lester, which suffers from perhaps an occasional overabundance of Lester-isms. The quick cuts and sight gags that worked so well on It's Trad, Dad, A Hard Day's Night, and Help! are a little distracting at times from the jokey script, which has fun with all manner of conceits about the ancient world and the timeless nature of human foibles. On the other hand, Lester himself has always maintained that he didn't have a free hand with this movie, having run into interference from producer Melvin Frank. The DVD offered a chance to go into the back-story of the movie, but the producers have, alas, failed to take advantage of the opportunity. A commentary track by Sondheim or Lester, or any of the other surviving participants would have been a stroke of genius, as well as an invaluable service, and would have resulted in a DVD that would still be a bargain at double the price. As it is, the DVD is simply a less expensive improvement on the laserdisc edition without any extras, which is still worth owning. The film looks very good, and occasionally radiant (in comparison to television presentations from the 1970s). The shots alternate between the beautiful and the above average -- for example, the gorgeous scenes between Michael Crawford and Annette Andre at 24 minutes in, during "I'm Lovely," are surrounded by sequences that look simply sharp and clean; the close-up of Zero Mostel when he is hit on the head with a flower pot is beautiful, but the wide shots in the same scene are just so-so visually; and the shots inside the house of Lycus are stunning. The 98-minute movie is broken into 28 chapters that delineate the key scenes and the musical numbers, and a trailer has been included as well. It's as much fun as the movie can be, which is considerable, but it could have (and ought to have been) a lot more.
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Special Features

Collectible booklet; Original theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Merging director Richard Lester's 1960s verve with old-fashioned Broadway and vaudeville entertainment, the movie version of the stage hit A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is an engagingly frenetic slapstick musical. Though the number of winning Stephen Sondheim songs is scaled back, stars Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford, and Buster Keaton pile on the schtick as Mostel's labyrinthine scams lead to nonstop mugging (except from Keaton), sexual shenanigans, hilarious one-liners, an elaborate chariot chase, and (naturally) hairy men in drag. Lester packs the screen with visual jokes and historically accurate Roman trappings; any residual staginess is mitigated by cinematographer Nicolas Roeg's and editor John Victor-Smith's New Wave flair for jump cuts and variable camera speeds. Broadway veteran Mostel is in peak form, especially when he goes toe to conniving toe with courtesan merchant Silvers and gauzily woos Gilford with a rendition of "Lovely," while Keaton remains a scene-stealer in one of his last films. A crowd-pleaser if not a Sondheim purist-pleaser, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum maintained the age-old attraction of "Comedy Tonight."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/18/2000
  • UPC: 027616809124
  • Original Release: 1966
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Stereo / Dolby 5.1
  • Sound: Dolby Digital, stereo
  • Language: English, Español
  • Time: 1:37:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Zero Mostel Pseudolus
Phil Silvers Lycus
Buster Keaton Erronius
Jack Gilford Hysterium
Michael Crawford Hero
Annette Andre Philia
Patricia Jessell Domina
Michael Hordern Senex
Leon Greene Miles Gloriosus
Inga Neilsen Gymnasia
Myrna White Vibrata
Lucienne Bridou Panacea
Helen Funai Tintinabula
Jennifer Baker Geminae
Susan Baker Geminae
Frank Elliott
Bill Kerr
Jack May
Roy Kinnear Instructor
Alfie Bass Gatekeeper
John Bluthal
Pamela Brown Priestess
Beatrix Lehmann Domina's Mother
Frank Thornton Roman soldier
Peter Butterworth
John Bennett
Andrew Faulds
Ron Brody
Jon Pertwee
Ingrid Pitt
Technical Credits
Richard Lester Director
Syd Cain Art Director
Trevor Crole-Rees Makeup
Melvin Frank Producer, Screenwriter
Leslie Hammond Sound/Sound Designer
Gerry Humphreys Sound/Sound Designer
George Martin Choreography
Ethel Martin Choreography
Michael Pertwee Screenwriter
Cliff John Richardson Special Effects
José Lopez Rodero Asst. Director
Nicolas Roeg Cinematographer
Jose Maria Sanchez Makeup
John Victor Smith Editor
Stephen Sondheim Score Composer
Tony Walton Costumes/Costume Designer, Production Designer
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Scene Index

Scene Selections
0. Scene Selections
1. Title/Intro/Credits [3:18]
2. Pseudolus the Slave [2:40]
3. Message to My Love [1:56]
4. Impervious [1:44]
5. Fair Trade [1:45]
6. Perfect Woman [6:57]
7. "There She Is!" [2:09]
8. I'm Lovely [5:03]
9. Erotic Pottery [1:05]
10. An Honest Virgin [2:54]
11. Everybody Ought To Have A Maid [5:53]
12. Gaggle of Geese [4:04]
13. Claiming the Maiden [2:39]
14. Trading Places [3:31]
15. Bring Me My Bride [8:16]
16. Roman Pleasures [3:37]
17. Madame Returns [2:49]
18. Flying Exit [3:42]
19. Anybody's Body [4:10]
20. "Monstrous Fate" [2:13]
21. Passion Potion [:49]
22. Fire Pyre [5:25]
23. Alive! [1:19]
24. Gladiator Training [4:20]
25. Hero the Hero [1:29]
26. Chariot Chase [6:13]
27. A Comedy Tonight [4:29]
28. End Credits [2:07]
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Menu

Main
Play
   Menu Group #1 with 29 chapter(s) covering 01:36:50
Theatrical Trailer
Languages
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    FUNNY!

    This is an awesome piece of work! Will keep you laughing for a week!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Classic

    One of the funniest movies ever made with some of the bast actors, lines and scenes. They don't make them like this anymore. My whole family and I know the all the lines and every scene. It's a bit bawdy for the kids but very tame by today's standards.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    a delirious orgy of comedy

    This film is a dlightful mix of "Fellini Satyricon" and "The Three Stooges"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A MUST WATCH COMEDY

    THIS MOVIE IS A CLASSIC, IT KEEPS YOU LAUGHING THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH. THERE IS A NEW SURPRISE AT EVERY TURN. BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING THIS MOVIE IS A MUST SEE FOR ANYONE WHO LIKES A GOOD COMEDY.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Funny thing that happend on the way to Forum

    I t was a great Comedy!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Hilarious Classic movie

    This movie is a charming story that leaves you laughing at every twist and turn of its intricate and quicikly building plot. Great for those who know a little about Roman culture, but perfectly understandable to those who don't. It actually follows a similar plot line to an ancient Roman play, with caracters such as the young (but stupid) master, beautiful young lady, and the tricky slave to get them together. Both slapstick and refined comedy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews