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Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! (2006)

TV Movie  |   |  Biography, Comedy, Drama  |  13 March 2006 (UK)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 491 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

Martyn Hesford's comedy-drama about the life and times of tortured comic Kenneth Williams based on his diaries.

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Title: Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! (TV Movie 2006)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lou Williams
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Charlie Williams
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Peter Eade
Martin Trenaman ...
David Charles ...
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Rachel Clarke ...
Connor Garnet Comerford ...
Beatrice Comins ...
St Joan / Actress
Timothy Davies ...
1st Doctor
Stephen Critchlow ...
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Storyline

Finicky,hygiene-obsessed comic actor Kenneth Williams,living in a flat block with mutually adoring mother Louie,looks back on his life. At loggerheads with his homophobic father over his career Kenny fulfils his dream of becoming a classical actor but is spun off into comedy,allowing full rein to his crowd-pleasing array of funny voices. A compulsive,often selfish performer off-screen,he becomes a national treasure following the radio show 'Round the Horne' and the successful series of film farces 'Carry On'... though he is disdainful of the latter,given that he once trod the boards with Orson Welles. Privately he is a tormented closet gay,sickened by his sexuality,unlike his friend,promiscuous playwright Joe Orton,and desperately asks his 'Carry On' co-star Joan Sims for a show marriage,which she refuses. Ultimately Louie's death,his own hypochondria,a down turn in work and a sense of his own isolation will result in a fatal encounter with a bottle of tablets in 1988. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Release Date:

13 March 2006 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Roy Holder plays a cameo part as the older road worker who talks to Williams when he opens flat window. Holder was a main character in the movie Loot (1970), by Joe Orton, Williams' close friend. See more »

Connections

References Carry on Cleo (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great lead performance, even if the film isn't all the sum of it's parts
12 April 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Kenneth Williams was arguably the most iconic star of the Carry On films, with his distinctive campy mannerisms, voice and facial expressions, along with a stuffy, uptight on screen persona that seemed to accompany it. But while he basically played himself on screen to great effect, behind the scenes he lived a solitary, troubled existence, as his diaries, which this TV film is based on, bared fruit to, leading up to his (fairly) early death at the age of 62.

I've only just been getting into the Carry On films in the last year or so, but it didn't take me long to figure out which one my favourite star was, or who, it seemed, would have lived the most dramatic life behind the scenes and made the most interesting subject matter for a TV film. Fantabulosa (which, it seems, was a bizarre phrase Williams blurted out a premiere he attended!) plays less like a dramatisation of Williams's life and more of a dark, personal take on his diaries in which he seemed to have written his final thoughts. The colour is appropriately drained out through-out to match the darkness of the content. Possibly before his star ascended to the heights that it would do, Michael Sheen took on the lead role here and, if the film possibly didn't hit the mark quite like it could, the same certainly can't be said of his performance, which seems to be an inspired piece of method acting indeed. He does literally become Williams, getting his voice spot on and his mannerisms just north of perfect. The character he brings to life is a fussy, fastidious man, stuffy and uptight who could well come off as unlikeable to those around him if he hadn't been...well, him. Although he doesn't come off as the most bearable of people, his manic comic persona is enough to pass him off to others. The film also charts his struggles with his sexuality, which he seems to regard as a dirty, disgusting thing in general, confining himself to a solitary, lonely existence with only his mother and a neighbour for company. He is portrayed as a Howard Hughes type character, afraid of germs and spraying things like bedsheets down, as well as not sharing his toilet with anyone to maintain 'hygiene.'

Somehow, the film doesn't feel all the sum of it's parts, but for an exposure of Williams's darkest inner thoughts and a great performance bringing him to life, it's well worth watching. ***


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