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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 16 October 1966 (USA)
Trailer
1:18 | Trailer
A wily slave must unite a virgin courtesan and his young smitten master to earn his freedom.

Director:

Richard Lester

Writers:

Melvin Frank (screenplay), Michael Pertwee (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Zero Mostel ... Pseudolus
Phil Silvers ... Marcus Lycus
Buster Keaton ... Erronius
Michael Crawford ... Hero
Jack Gilford ... Hysterium
Annette Andre ... Philia
Michael Hordern ... Senex
Leon Greene ... Captain Miles Gloriosus
Roy Kinnear ... Gladiator Instructor
Alfie Bass ... Gatekeeper
John Bluthal ... Roman Chief Guard
Pamela Brown ... High Priestess
Patricia Jessel ... Domina
Beatrix Lehmann ... Domina's Mother
Frank Thornton ... Roman Sentry
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Storyline

Pseudolus (Zero Mostel) is the laziest slave in Rome, and has one wish, to purchase his freedom. When his master and mistress leave for the day, he finds out that the young master has fallen in love with a virgin in the house of Marcus Lycus (Phil Silvers), a slave dealer specializing in beautiful women. Pseudolus concocts a deal in which he will be freed if he can procure the girl for young Hero (Michael Crawford). Of course, it can't be that simple as everything begins to go wrong. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Something for Everyone!

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum See more »

Filming Locations:

Madrid, Spain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Phil Silvers had to go without his trademark glasses for this movie, as Director Richard Lester did not want any historical anachronisms. See more »

Goofs

Romans used three dice in their games, not two. See more »

Quotes

Miles Gloriosus: Oh, her bridal bower becomes a burial bier of bitter bereavement!
Pseudolus: Very good! Can you say "Titus the tailor told ten tall tales to Titania the titmouse"?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits are a sequence of animated Roman frescoes. At the end of the credits, all the frescoes appear together as a gallery with the words "THE END" as a centerpiece. See more »


Soundtracks

Lovely
Written by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Annette Andre and Michael Crawford
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mostel, Silvers, Gilford, and Michael Crawford!
23 August 2005 | by drednmSee all my reviews

Very funny film version of the smash Broadway musical, but minus most of the music. Sort of a bawdy tribute to slapstick comedy and vaudeville, the film is uniformly wonderful, the pace fast, and the jokes funny. This show was a major success on Broadway for Zero Mostel and decades later for Nathan Lane.

The plot is zany and convoluted and the style of comedy is similar to 60s slapstick used in everything from Tom Jones to Lock Up Your Daughters. Director Richard Lester uses film technique to keep the few musical numbers from stopping the pace of the film, and it works surprisingly well. And the fond look at slapstick (speeded up film, drag, pratfalls, etc.) is especially apt here considering the great Buster Keaton is in the cast.

Mostel reprises here as the wily slave who drives the manic action. He wants to be free. Mostel is just wonderful and gets to use his full bag of tricks as a comedian as well as sing "Comedy Tonight." Equally good is Phil Silvers, who sells slave girls next door to the snooty matron (Patricia Jessel) her husband (Michael Hordern), and their innocent son Hero (Michael Crawford---yes THAT Michael Crawford).

The great Buster Keaton (in his final film) plays Erronius, an old man seeking his long-lost children. Jack Gilford plays a fellow slave, Leon Greene plays the pompous Roman general looking for his bride. Then there are all those slave girls — Annette Andre as the virgin; Inga Neilsen as the mute. Michael Hordern is a surprise as the old lecher and gets to sing, "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid." Jessel is a scream as the hag wife. Lots of scantily clad girls and horny old men.

Hilarious jokes (Mostel as the soothsayer) and sight gags abound. Mostel, Silvers, and Gilford are masters of this sort of broad comedy, and Silvers and Gilford make truly ugly women. Crawford (decades later The Phantom of the Opera) is really funny as the dopey Hero and does most of his own stunts. Greene is also very funny as the overblown general.

Lots of other good performances in small parts: Beatrix Lehman as the 104- year-old with no working organs, Peter Butterworth as the Roman soldier, Frank Thornton (Are You Being Served?) as a Roman citizen, the grunting Janet Webb as Fertilla, Roy Kinnear as the trainer, Alfie Bass as the sentry, Ronnie Brody as the short soldier.

There's so much action here you have to watch this several times to catch all the background jokes. The final madcap chariot race is hilarious. Great fun. And flies everywhere!


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