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A Private Function (1984)

R | | Comedy | 1 March 1985 (USA)
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In post-war Britain, food rationing continues, leading a married couple to become involved in the flourishing bacon black market.

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

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Cast

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

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Release Date:

1 March 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Función privada  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Intellectual Animals UK advised producer Mark Shivas to use pigs that were female and only six months old as male pigs might be too aggressive and older pigs were much more difficult to handle. See more »

Quotes

Joyce Chilvers: It's not pork, Gilbert, it's power!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Live from the Lighthouse (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Rose of England
Music by Ivor Novello
Played on piano by Maggie Smith
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User Reviews

 
Underrated gem
23 October 2007 | by (England) – See all my reviews

The 1980s were dark days for the British film industry and productivity was at an unprecedented low. That doesn't mean that there weren't a number of very fine films made during this time. It does mean that they tend to be rather forgotten in what is often described as a period of wilderness for British cinema. This is rather unfair, as there are a number of fine films made during this decade that don't get the attention they should. A Private Function is a case in point.

The cast assembled for the film is simply one of the best I have ever seen in one movie. Look at the cast today and you would say it was star-studded; actually, many of these actors were not especially famous at the time (only Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott and Alison Steadman were really famous actors). Most of the others (Richard Griffiths, Pete Postlethwaite, Jim Carter, Liz Smith, Bill Paterson, Tony Haygarth) have achieved more recognition since. Their obvious talent and future potential was clear to see in this movie. As the fortunes of British films have improved since, their careers have duly flourished.

If the film has a weakness, it is that it is supposed to be a star vehicle for Michael Palin, and yet his character is utterly dull and boring. Palin has proved he is a very capable actor elsewhere and might have impressed more if the kind of effort Bennett put into developing the other characters had also been afforded to Palin's role. This is a minor point though, because the rest of the characters are so well scripted it doesn't seem to matter too much. Palin would probably be the first to admit that the film works because of the script's overall quality (Alan Bennett is simply one of Britain's most incisive comic minds) and because of the wonderful supporting cast, not because of the strength of his own character.

A Private Function is a relatively low budget and uniquely British film. The writing and the acting represent the very best of British cinema. It's a shame it doesn't get more recognition but the gentle wit, eccentric characters and lack of glamour and romance, plus the state the British film industry was in at the time it was made, probably meant that it was never destined to be a blockbuster. It does remain a very funny and at times quite barbed portrait of a particular period in 20th century British history.


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