Private Function

Private Function

Director: Malcolm Mowbray

Cast: Malcolm Mowbray, Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Liz Smith

     
 

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A British couple's attempts to circumvent local food-rationing regulations trigger a chaotic series of events in this satirical comedy set in post-World War II England. The couple's scheme centers on a massive hog which has been illegally raised by a local farmer. Seeing a chance to capitalize on pork's scarcity, the ambitious Joyce Chilvers (Maggie Smith) convinces… See more details below

Overview

A British couple's attempts to circumvent local food-rationing regulations trigger a chaotic series of events in this satirical comedy set in post-World War II England. The couple's scheme centers on a massive hog which has been illegally raised by a local farmer. Seeing a chance to capitalize on pork's scarcity, the ambitious Joyce Chilvers (Maggie Smith) convinces her mild-mannered husband (Michael Palin) to steal the pig. Unfortunately for the Chilverses, a vigilant food inspector is on duty and determined to stop all such illegal activity. The couple's efforts to hide the pig provide much material for frantic and sometimes grotesque farce. These broad moments are balanced by the more intellectual, satirical jibes, particularly sharp when targeting the British class system and the wife's social ambitions. Skilled comic performances by Smith and Monty Python alumnus Palin bring a human tone to playwright Alan Bennett's acerbic screenplay, but the film's harsh sense of humor will appeal most to those with a taste for British drollery.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Comedy doesn't always travel well, as the cultural signposts that inspire laughter in one country may not resonate in another. A Private Function is in some ways very British, but audiences outside that country should still find a great deal to enjoy in this off-kilter comedy which alternates between droll quaintness and acerbic harshness, between refinement and extremely low humor. Alan Bennett's screenplay has a great many funny lines; more importantly, it understands that humor is best when it derives from character, so that most of the laughs come from context rather than from jokes. Malcolm Mowbray has directed the film with a nice combination of enthusiasm and restraint, although he sometimes chooses the wrong mode at the wrong time. His cast is superb, starting with Maggie Smith in high-comic dudgeon as she makes her petty character into a veritable Lady MacBeth. Smith, who has worked with Bennett numerous times, seems to have a special affinity for his style of writing. Michael Palin, with his bizarre form of vulnerability, is a great match for her. As the dotty mother, Liz Smith steals several scenes, a considerable feat under the circumstances, and Denholm Elliott's doctor is a treat. While the film doesn't quite achieve the lunatic payoff it seems to promise, it's a pleasingly deranged way to pass the time.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/01/2003
UPC:
0027616884510
Original Release:
1984
Rating:
R
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Time:
1:36:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; English: Mono ; English, French & Spanish language subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Palin Gilbert Chilvers
Maggie Smith Joyce Chilvers
Liz Smith Mother
Denholm Elliott Dr. Charles Swaby
Richard Griffiths Henry Allardyce
John Normington Frank Lockwood
Bill Paterson Maurice Wormold
Anthony Haygarth Bernard Sutcliffe
Alison Steadman Mrs. Allardyce
Pete Postlethwaite Nuttol
Jim Carter Inspector Noble
Elijah Wood Ernest
Eileen O'Brien Mrs. Sutcliff
Rachel Davies Mrs. Forbes
Reece Dinsdale P.C. Penny
Philip Whileman Preston
Charles McKeown Medcalf
Susan Porrett Mrs. Medcalf
Donald Eccles Father
Denys Hawthorne Hotel Manager
Don Estelle Barraclough
Amanda Gregan Veronica
Paula Tilbrook Mrs. Turnbull
Bernard Wrigley Painter
Lee Daley Painter's Boy
Gilly Coman Dorothy
Maggie Ollerenshaw Woman
Josie Lane Mrs. Beavers
David Morgan Marvin

Technical Credits
Malcolm Mowbray Director,Original Story
Alan Bennett Original Story,Screenwriter
Christine Beveridge Makeup
Phyllis Dalton Costumes/Costume Designer
John Du Prez Score Composer
Michelle Guish Casting
George Harrison Executive Producer
Tony Jackson Sound/Sound Designer
Judith Lang Art Director
Debbie McWilliams Casting
Denis O'Brien Executive Producer
Tony Pierce-Roberts Cinematographer
Michael Porter Art Director
Mark Shivas Producer
Barrie Vince Editor
Stuart Walker Production Designer

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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Widescreen
1. Main Title [1:16]
2. Grim Tidings [2:24]
3. Fancy Footwork [6:11]
4. The Park Police Call [4:43]
5. Grumblings & Green Pigs [4:35]
6. The Status of Steak [4:54]
7. Flesh-Food Felonies [8:15]
8. Tending All Trotters [4:54]
9. Of National Importance [6:09]
10. "We're In!" and Out [4:42]
11. Pork = Power [4:57]
12. Stealing Betty [2:24]
13. The Noisome Houseguest [7:31]
14. From Sow to Sausage? [5:33]
15. The Secret Leaks Out [7:38]
16. As Impromptu Affair [4:15]
17. "It's Like a Fairy Tale" [5:13]
18. A Right Understanding [4:06]
19. Invited at Last [3:08]
20. New Friends/End Credits [3:13]
Side #2 -- Standard
1. Main Title [1:16]
2. Grim Tidings [2:24]
3. Fancy Footwork [6:11]
4. The Park Police Call [4:43]
5. Grumblings & Green Pigs [4:35]
6. The Status of Steak [4:54]
7. Flesh-Food Felonies [8:15]
8. Tending All Trotters [4:54]
9. Of National Importance [6:09]
10. "We're In!" and Out [4:42]
11. Pork = Power [4:57]
12. Stealing Betty [2:24]
13. The Noisome Houseguest [7:31]
14. From Sow to Sausage? [5:33]
15. The Secret Leaks Out [7:38]
16. As Impromptu Affair [4:15]
17. "It's Like a Fairy Tale" [5:13]
18. A Right Understanding [4:06]
19. Invited at Last [3:08]
20. New Friends/End Credits [3:13]

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