IMDb > A Private Function (1984)
A Private Function
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A Private Function (1984) More at IMDbPro »

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Alan Bennett (written by)
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Release Date:
11 March 1985 (USA) See more »
Vicious, Delicious and Tasteless.
1947 in a small town in England. The war has been won two years ago, but there's still rationing of meat... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations See more »
(17 articles)
Berlin Film Review: ‘Sherry & the Mystery of Palo Cortado’
 (From Variety - Film News. 17 February 2015, 5:03 PM, PST)

Margaret Thatcher and the Movies
 (From Moviefone. 8 April 2013, 5:33 PM, PDT)

Richard Griffiths obituary
 (From The Guardian - TV News. 29 March 2013, 5:07 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
It is fortunate that BAFTAs are restricted to humans See more (21 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Michael Palin ... Gilbert Chilvers

Maggie Smith ... Joyce Chilvers

Denholm Elliott ... Dr. Charles Swaby

Richard Griffiths ... Henry Allardyce the Accountant

Tony Haygarth ... Leonard Sutcliff the Farmer
John Normington ... Frank Lockwood the Solicitor

Bill Paterson ... Morris Wormold the Meat Inspector
Liz Smith ... Joyce's Mother

Alison Steadman ... Mrs. Allardyce

Jim Carter ... Inspector Noble

Pete Postlethwaite ... Douglas J. Nuttol the Butcher
Eileen O'Brien ... Mrs. Sutcliff
Rachel Davies ... Mrs. Forbes, Wormold's Landlady
Reece Dinsdale ... P.C. Penny
Philip Whileman ... Preston Sutcliff (as Philip Wileman)
Charles McKeown ... Medcalf a Butcher
Susan Porrett ... Mrs. Dorcus Medcalf
Donald Eccles ... Dorcus' Father
Denys Hawthorne ... Grand Hotel Manager
Don Estelle ... Barraclough a Butcher
Eli Woods ... Ernest
Amanda Gregan ... Veronica Allardyce
Paula Tilbrook ... Mrs. Turnbull, a Chilvers Neighbor

Bernard Wrigley ... Painter
Lee Daley ... Painter's Boy
Gilly Coman ... Dorothy, Allardyce's Secretary
Maggie Ollerenshaw ... Woman
Josie Lane ... Mrs. Beavers
David Morgan ... Marvin
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Prince Philip ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Queen Elizabeth II ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
Malcolm Mowbray 
Writing credits
Alan Bennett (written by)

Alan Bennett (story) &
Malcolm Mowbray (story)

Produced by
George Harrison .... executive producer
Denis O'Brien .... executive producer
Mark Shivas .... producer
Original Music by
John Du Prez 
Cinematography by
Tony Pierce-Roberts (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Barrie Vince 
Casting by
Michelle Guish 
Debbie McWilliams 
Production Design by
Stuart Walker 
Art Direction by
Judith Lang 
Michael Porter 
Costume Design by
Phyllis Dalton 
Makeup Department
Jan Archibald .... hair stylist
Christine Beveridge .... makeup supervisor
Joan Hills .... makeup artist
Elizabeth Moss .... hair stylist
Anita Pickles .... makeup artist
Production Management
Ann Wingate .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Nick Godden .... third assistant director
Chris Thompson .... second assistant director
Guy Travers .... first assistant director
Art Department
Alan Bailey .... property master
John Bailey .... dressing props
Frank Berlin .... painter
Jack Carter .... construction manager
Trevor Dyer .... stand-by carpenter
Tom Hughes .... painter
Roger Hume .... production buyer
Eddie McMahon .... stand-by props
Malcolm Roberts .... construction supervisor
Keith Smith .... stagehand
Jeffrey Witts .... dressing props
Sound Department
Clive Barrett .... assistant sound editor
Nigel Galt .... sound editor
Robert Gavin .... sound editor
Tony Jackson .... sound recordist
Stephen Janisz .... sound editor (as Steve Janisz)
Richard King .... dubbing mixer
Michael Redfern .... sound editor (as Mike Redfern)
Rosie Straker .... assistant sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Peter Arnold .... electrician
John Cantwell .... electrician
David Farrell .... still photographer
Joe Felix .... grip
Peter James .... clapper loader
Larry Knox .... generator operator
Malcolm MacIntosh .... camera operator
Derek Suter .... clapper loader
Mark White .... camera car grip
Micky Woolaard .... gaffer
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ken Crouch .... wardrobe assistant (as Kenny Crouch)
Janet Tebrooke .... wardrobe supervisor
Editorial Department
Scott Thomas .... assistant editor
Music Department
Ray Cooper .... music producer
John Du Prez .... conductor
Dick Lewzey .... music recordist
Other crew
Billy Bell .... technical advisor
Jill Bennett .... assistant production accountant
Brian Brockwell .... production accountant
Gerry Cott .... animal trainer
Liz Ferwell .... financial controller
Joanna Gollins .... location manager
Ralph Graham .... chiropodist
Britt Harrison .... unit runner
Tamara Ingram .... assistant to producer
Richard Morrison .... title designer
Ginny Roncoroni .... production assistant
Wendy Tayler .... publicist
Alison Thorne .... continuity

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
94 min | USA:93 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Three pigs were used in the making of the movie.See more »
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 »
Rose of EnglandSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
It is fortunate that BAFTAs are restricted to humans, 2 December 2014
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England

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

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