6.6/10
1,888
21 user 17 critic

A Private Function (1984)

R | | Comedy | 1 March 1985 (USA)
Trailer
2:33 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
In post-war Britain, food rationing continues, leading a married couple to become involved in the flourishing bacon black market.

Director:

Writers:

, (story) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

In 1905, after 10 years of missionary work in Africa, the Rev. Charles Fortesque is recalled to England, where his bishop gives him his new assignment - to minister to London's prostitutes.... See full summary »

Director: Richard Loncraine
Stars: Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Trevor Howard
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

She falls in love with a broken down former NYC hotel doorman, who tells Judith vaguely that he was in the hotel business.

Director: Jack Clayton
Stars: Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, Wendy Hiller
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

At his mother's funeral, stuffy bank clerk Henry Pulling meets his Aunt Augusta, an elderly eccentric with more-than-shady dealings who pulls him along on a whirlwind adventure as she ... See full summary »

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Maggie Smith, Alec McCowen, Louis Gossett Jr.
Lily in Love (1984)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Broadway star Fitzroy Wynn is thrilled when his wife Lily writes a new script with a brilliant lead role. While ego-centric Fitz thinks himself perfect for the role, Lily dashes his hopes ... See full summary »

Director: Károly Makk
Stars: Christopher Plummer, Maggie Smith, Elke Sommer
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A headstrong young teacher in a private school in 1930s Edinburgh ignores the curriculum and influences her impressionable 12 year old charges with her over-romanticized world view.

Director: Ronald Neame
Stars: Maggie Smith, Gordon Jackson, Robert Stephens
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A meditation on power and the metaphor of the body of state, based on the real episode of dementia experienced by George III [now suspected a victim of porphyria, a blood disorder]. As he ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas Hytner
Stars: Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Rupert Graves
Clockwise (1986)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An obsessively punctual comprehensive school headmaster sets out to give an important speech at the annual Headmasters' Conference.

Director: Christopher Morahan
Stars: John Cleese, Penny Leatherbarrow, Howard Lloyd-Lewis
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman living in her van that's parked in his driveway.

Director: Nicholas Hytner
Stars: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Misadventures of four groups of guests at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Director: Herbert Ross
Stars: Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Maggie Smith
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Two men show up claiming to be the grandfather of a child heiress.

Director: Bryan Forbes
Stars: David Niven, Art Carney, Maggie Smith
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A young wife decides to complete her education and take her exams. She meets a professor who teaches her to value her own insights while still being able to beat the exams. The change in ... See full summary »

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Michael Caine, Julie Walters, Michael Williams
My Old Lady (2014)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

An American inherits an apartment in Paris that comes with an unexpected resident.

Director: Israel Horovitz
Stars: Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Henry Allardyce the Accountant
...
Leonard Sutcliff the Farmer
John Normington ...
...
Liz Smith ...
...
Mrs. Allardyce
...
Inspector Noble
...
Douglas J. Nuttol the Butcher
Eileen O'Brien ...
Mrs. Sutcliff
Rachel Davies ...
Mrs. Forbes, Wormold's Landlady
...
Philip Whileman ...
Preston Sutcliff (as Philip Wileman)
Edit

Storyline

1947 in a small town in England. The war has been won two years ago, but there's still rationing of meat. When princess Elizabeth is going to marry, a group of businessmen wants to impress (or probably bribe) the local government by giving a big party. They want to slaughter an illegally raised pig for this event. Unfortunately someone steals the pig. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Vicious, Delicious and Tasteless.

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 March 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Función privada  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was nominated for 5 BAFTA Awards including Best Film and Best Original Screenplay (Alan Bennett). The picture won three BAFTAs, Best Actress (Maggie Smith), Best Supporting Actress (Liz Smith) and Best Supporting Actor (Denholm Elliott). As such, both actress acting BAFTAs for this movie were won by actresses who were last named "Smith". See more »

Quotes

P.C. Penny: [upon spotting a single, solitary banana] Mrs Medcalf, are you wanting that banana?
Mrs. Dorcus Medcalf: I am, love; I'm planning a trifle.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in What the Pythons Did Next... (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Rose of England
Music by Ivor Novello
Played on piano by Maggie Smith
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
It is fortunate that BAFTAs are restricted to humans
2 December 2014 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

To celebrate my 1,400th review for IMDb I turn to another of my favourite films. One might have thought that the Ealing comedies of the forties and fifties represented a quite different style of humour from that of the Monty Python team of the seventies, and yet the Pythons had a high regard for Ealing and several of them paid tribute to the studio in their post-Python careers. "A Fish Called Wanda", starring John Cleese and Michael Palin, was made by the veteran Ealing director Charles Crichton. The plot of "Splitting Heirs", which starred Eric Idle and Cleese, paid quite deliberate tribute to Robert Hamer's "Kind Hearts and Coronets". And "A Private Function" has close thematic links with "Passport to Pimlico".

Like the earlier film, this one is set against the background of the post-war food rationing system of the late forties. Early on we see a fatuous cinema newsreel from the period, assuring its viewers that the British people, unlike their French neighbours who blatantly bought and sold food on the black market, were happy to accept rationing in the interests of Fair Shares For All. In reality, the system, accepted as a necessity in wartime, had become deeply unpopular in peacetime and the black market flourished in Britain just as much as in France. It is notable that Morris Wormold, the food inspector charged with enforcing the system, is referred to by the other characters as the "Gestapo".

The film is set in a small Yorkshire town in 1947, at the time of the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth (as she then was) to Prince Philip. A group of local businessmen and prominent citizens want to hold a formal dinner to celebrate the occasion, but the food rationing system makes it impossible to obtain enough food legally. They therefore decide to bribe a local farmer to raise an "unlicensed" pig- at this period every pig in the country had to be officially registered to prevent black-marketeering- so that they can feast on roast pork on the great day.

Unfortunately for them, word of their scheme reaches the ears of a third party- not Wormold but Gilbert Chilvers, the town's chiropodist. Although he is an established local tradesman, Gilbert has not been invited to the dinner, largely because Charles Swaby, the local doctor and one of the organisers of the dinner, has taken a dislike to him. Gilbert is a mild-mannered little man who, left to himself, would not really resent this snub, but his snobbish, social-climbing wife Joyce takes it as a personal insult. Goaded on by Joyce, Gilbert comes up with a plan to steal the pig and thereby hold Swaby and his associates to ransom.

The script was written by Alan Bennett, that great observer of English (especially Northern English) lower-middle-class life, who provided some brilliant opportunities for some of the best-known British actors of the period. Michael Palin is today perhaps best-known for his travel documentaries for British television, but in the eighties, after "Monty Python" had come to an end, he was re-inventing himself as a comic actor, and his portrayal of Gilbert, the archetypal "little man", forever put-upon both by a domineering wife and by those who consider themselves his social betters, is one of his finest efforts in this vein, perhaps only equalled by his performance in "The Missionary".

Maggie Smith also excels as Joyce, one of Bennett's finest characters. Joyce is, on the surface, a monstrous bully and snob, but underneath that surface it is clear that her snobbery arises from a sense of insecurity. She is the sort of person whose sense of self-worth is almost entirely defined by what she perceives to be her social standing, and her husband's social standing, in the eyes of society, and who has a massive inferiority complex about her social origins. There is a nice contrast between Joyce and Denholm Elliott's Dr Swaby. Swaby is just as snobbish as Joyce, but his snobbery arises not from an inferiority complex but rather from an equally massive superiority complex.

The other fine performances come from Richard Griffiths as the accountant Henry Allardyce, who develops a strange affection for the pig, Bill Paterson as the officious, humourless functionary Wormold, Pete Postlethwaite as the butcher charged with butchering the pig and Maggie's unrelated namesake Liz Smith as Joyce's half-mad, senile old mother. To say nothing of Betty the pig (or rather pigs, because six different individuals alternated in this role). Maggie (Best Actress) and Liz (Best Supporting Actress) both won acting BAFTAs, as did Elliott for Best Supporting Actor. It is, however, perhaps fortunate for Maggie Smith that BAFTAs are restricted to humans, otherwise Betty might have beaten her to her award.

Predictably, the Academy ignored the film altogether; if they ever saw it the Yorkshire accents probably made them wonder why a foreign- language film was being screened without subtitles. It is, however, a first-rate comedy and one of the best British films of the eighties. Bennett's powers of social observation are very sharp and his script is characterised by great wit and humour. (I recall my girlfriend almost rolling on the ground with laughter when we first saw it together, especially at the antics of the pig). If the Academy had taken it seriously it might even have challenged Milos Forman's wonderful "Amadeus" for "Best Picture". It seems a pity that its director Malcolm Mowbray has not made more feature films; about the only other one I have seen was "The Revengers' Comedies". 10/10


0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Brilliantly done... HarrietZ
Harrison voice cameo! rickmojo
Depressing but good Kissmyface
She's 74 SissyGoforth
Unique credit uisliu
Discuss A Private Function (1984) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?