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Magic Christian

The Magic Christian

5.0 3
Director: Joseph McGrath

Cast: Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, Isabel Jeans


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This zany British comedy finds a homeless hobo (Ringo Starr) being adopted by the world's richest man, Sir Guy Grand (Peter Sellers). Setting sail on the luxury liner The Magic Christian, Sir Grand tests the limit of human avarice. With money to motivate the greedy, Laurence Harvey combines his Hamlet soliloquy with a striptease. A vile cesspool of excrement is seeded


This zany British comedy finds a homeless hobo (Ringo Starr) being adopted by the world's richest man, Sir Guy Grand (Peter Sellers). Setting sail on the luxury liner The Magic Christian, Sir Grand tests the limit of human avarice. With money to motivate the greedy, Laurence Harvey combines his Hamlet soliloquy with a striptease. A vile cesspool of excrement is seeded with cash and the money-hungry dive right in. Wilfred Hyde White is the drunken captain, Yul Brynner is uncredited in his performance as a chanteuse transvestite, and John Cleese is the director of Sotheby's auction house. Roman Polanski, Richard Attenborough and Raquel Welch also appear in this offbeat comedy. Paul McCartney wrote and produced "Come and Get It," the first international hit from the power-pop group Badfinger. John "Speedy" Keene wrote "Something In The Air" and performed the track with his group Thunderclap Newman. Sellers, Cleese, Graham Chapman and Terry Southern co-authored the screenplay taken from Southern's novel.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
This hilarious 1969 British social satire belongs in the pantheon of cult favorites alongside the likes of Head, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Spinal Tap. Peter Sellers stars as zillionaire Sir Guy Grand, while the Beatles' Ringo Starr portrays the happy-go-lucky drifter Grand spontaneously adopts as son, heir, and apprentice in a lifelong mission -- to expose the blind greed of the moneyed class. Comic havoc ensues as the two knock about London’s high society, using Sir Guy’s ever-present briefcase full of money to stage bizarre stunts. These include inducing master thespian Sir Lawrence Harvey to perform Hamlet’s "To be or not to be" soliloquy as a raunchy, Vegas-style striptease and getting a crowd of passersby to bob for "free money" in a vat of blood, urine, and manure. Their capers increase in scale and audacity until they pull off their pièce de résistance: subjecting the most uppity of the upper crust to a full-scale freak-out aboard The Magic Christian, a very exclusive luxury liner. Co-written by ‘60s satirist Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider) and based on his 1959 novel of the same name, the movie boasts cameos galore -- pre-Python John Cleese and Graham Chapman, director Roman Polanski, Yul Brynner in drag, and a whip-wielding Raquel Welch, among others -- as well as an irresistible soundtrack featuring the Badfinger hit "Come and Get It." The Magic Christian is more than a time capsule of late-‘60s counterculture sensibility and absurdist humor; it stands as a timelessly funny take on the depths of human greed. --Paul Leo
All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
A cult film and very much a product of its time, The Magic Christian is an oddity indeed. Those who "get it" relish every moment, taking special pleasure in the cynical world-view promoted herein and enjoying the sight of dozens of drab-suited British businessmen throwing themselves into a vat of blood and excrement in order to retrieve the money that is floating in the swill. They appreciate the oddball logic, the at times free-form feel of the proceedings, and bizarre sights, such as Laurence Harvey stripping while spouting Shakespeare or Raquel Welch wielding a whip. Others may miss the appeal of all this, or may find that it doesn't make up for the heavy-handed and overly obvious manner in which all this is presented; indeed, it's hard to argue with those who feel that Magic Christian makes its point within the first few minutes and simply keeps reiterating it without ever expanding or building upon it. Both camps, however, will likely agree that Peter Sellers helps to keep things lively and certainly knows just how to approach material of this sort, and that Ringo Starr is agreeably (and appropriately) vacuous. In 1969, Magic Christian certainly scored points for its irreverence, but most modern audiences will probably find it more valuable as a curiosity than as a movie.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Olive Films
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Peter Sellers Sir Guy Grand
Ringo Starr Youngman Grand
Isabel Jeans Agnes Grand
Caroline Blakiston Esther
Christopher Lee Ship's Vampire
Raquel Welch Priestess of the Whip
Richard Attenborough Oxford Coach
Leonard Frey Laurence Faggot
Laurence Harvey Hamlet
Spike Milligan Traffic Warden
Tom Boyle My Man Jeff
Terry Alexander Mad Major
Peter Bayliss Pompous Torr
Patrick Cargill Auctioneer
John Cleese Director In Sotheby's
Freddie Earlle Sol
Kenneth Fortescue Irate Snob
Peter Graves Lord At Ship's Bar
David Hutcheson Lord Barry
Hattie Jacques Ginger Horton
John Le Mesurier Sir John
Jeremy Lloyd Lord Hampton
David Lodge Ship's Guide
Victor Maddern Hot Dog Vendor
Peter Myers Lord Kilgallon
Dennis Price Winthrop
Robert Raglan Maltravers
Graham Stark Waiter
Leon Thau Engine Room Toff
Frank Thornton Police Inspector
Michael Trubshawe Sir Lionel
Edward Underdown Prince Henry
Michael Aspel TV Commentator
Harry Carpenter TV Commentator
John Snagge TV Commentator
Alan Whicker TV Commentator
Guy Middleton Duke of Montisbriar
Wilfrid Hyde-White Capt.Reginald K. Klaus
Roman Polanski Solitary Drinker
Joan Benham Socialite in Sotheby's
Clive Dunn Sommelier
Fred Emney Fitzgibbon
Patrick Holt Duke in Sotheby's
Ferdinand "Ferdy" Mayne Edouard
Yul Brynner Bar Singer (uncredited)
Graham Chapman Oxford Crew (uncredited)
John Lennon Himself (Getting on Boat)
Sean Barry-Weske John Lennon lookalike
Kimberly Chung Yoko Ono lookalike

Technical Credits
Joseph McGrath Director,Screenwriter
Lionel Blair Choreography
Peta Button Set Decoration/Design
Graham Chapman Screenwriter
John Cleese Screenwriter
Kevin Connor Editor
George Djurkovic Art Director
Harry Frampton Makeup
Assheton Gorton Production Designer
Vangie Harrison Costumes/Costume Designer
Brian Holland Sound/Sound Designer
Paul McCartney Score Composer
Denis O'Dell Producer
Peter Sellers Screenwriter
Roger Simons Asst. Director
Terry Southern Screenwriter
Ken Thorne Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Anthony B. Unger Executive Producer
Geoffrey Unsworth Cinematographer
Wally Veevers Special Effects
Henry T. Weinstein Executive Producer

Customer Reviews

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The Magic Christian 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great satire in the original form. Where is it?The money grab scene that takes place in the outdoor pool was one of the edited portions of this movie. Having a dvd with the entire movie would be like having the original album and cover for Blind Faiths first release.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a tremendously funny film that has been treated brutally by TV, video, and laser disc. When I saw it's premiere in Beverly Hills in 1970 it was 2 hours long, as mentioned in its opening narration. Please, please could it somehow be restored on DVD? Terry Southern, the screen writer and author of the book, who also wrote the screenplays for Dr. Strangelove and The Loved One, deserves to have his work finally available un-cut.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of course this movie has been panned. It Brilliantly unveils and lampoons the evil that controls so much of society today. I own a VCR just so I can watch this film.