Broad satire and buffoonery presented as a series of movie trailers. Among the titles and subjects are: "The Howard Huge Story", "Skate-boarders from Hell", "The Invasion of the Penis ... See full summary »
Royce D. Applegate,
Shame, the ape man of the jungle, is aghast when his woman, June, is kidnapped by a gang of giant penises. They take her to their queen, Bazunga, a bald woman with fourteen breasts. After ... See full summary »
Rutland Weekend Television takes a look at the Pre-fab Four: Dirk McQuickly (Eric Idle), Barry Wom (John Halsey), Stig O'Hara (Ricky Fataar), and Ron Nasty (Neil Innes); better known as the Rutles. This documentary follows their career from their early days in Liverpool and Hamburg's infamous Rat-Keller, to their amazing worldwide success. A parody of Beatlemania and the many serious documentaries made about the Beatles.Written by
Alexander Lum <email@example.com>
In his "memoir" available on the DVD, Eric Idle mentions what The Beatles thought of the movie. According to Idle, George Harrison was very supportive and encouraged him. Paul McCartney disapproved at first, but relented when he learned that Idle grew up near Liverpool; his wife Linda always loved it. Ringo Starr liked the happier scenes, but felt the scenes that mimicked sadder times hit too close. John Lennon (along with Yoko Ono) adored it and refused to return the videotape and soundtrack he was given for approval. Lennon also told Neil Innes that "Get Up and Go" was too similar to "Get Back", and to be careful not to be sued by ATV Music, owners of the Beatles catalogue's copyright at the time. The song was consequently omitted from the 1978 vinyl LP soundtrack. See more »
Late in the "documentary," the Rutles' tea-drinking is treated as a scandal (parodying the Beatles' marijuana use). But in an earlier scene, there doesn't seem to be anything unremarkable about it, as the band members play with a teapot in their hotel room while on camera. See more »
In the midst of all this public bickering, "Let it Rot" was released as a film, an album, and a lawsuit. In 1970, Dirk sued Stig, Nasty, and Barry; Barry sued Dirk, Nasty, and Stig; Nasty sued Barry, Dirk, and Stig; and Stig sued himself accidentally. It was the beginning of a golden era for lawyers, but for the Rutles, live on a London rooftop, it was the beginning of the end.
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If you're a fan of the Beatles or of Monty Python's Flying Circus (and I happen to be both), it's hard to dislike this classic take-off of the Beatles phenomenon masterminded by Python's Eric Idle and composer Neil Innes that lampoons the Fab Four so precisely that the attention to detail for Beatlemaniacs will be even more impressive than the wit.
Some of the gags are priceless ("Their first album took twenty minutes to record. Their second took even longer."), but that's nothing compared to Idle's spoofing of familiar Beatles set pieces: the John & Yoko chaacters press conference for peace held in a shower, the Rutles looking "shocked and stunned" in their reaction when told of their manager's demise, and the playful banter with the media (Q: Do you feel better after seeing the queen? Rutle: No. You feel better after seeing the doctor. Rutle: Not my doctor, you don't.) And, in the traditional Python style, it's a documentary that spoofs documentaries. In one scene, narrator Idle finds himself chasing after a tracking shot that goes speeding away without him.
But the thing about it is that really satisfies on the level of the obsessed Beatle fan who knows absolutely everything there is about the Beatles' story. The Kaiserkeller is referenced as the Rat Kellar, an old hotspot crawling with rats, the Beatles' detested music publisher Dick James gets a dig ("a music publisher of no fixed ability"), the thievery going on at Apple, Ringo's fascination with the I Ching, and even Allen Klein appears (John Belushi, wearing Klein's trademark turtleneck sweater). Amidst all that, the true highlight (as was the case with the Beatles' movies themselves) is the music. Neil Innes' parodies of Beatle songs are dead-on in style and substance without ridiculing or plagiarizing them ("A Girl Like You" is close to "If I Fell", but not quite). He also gives a more-than-credible performance playing the John Lennon character. On the negative side, I thought Idle kind of glossed over the disintegration of the band- a period ripe for comic parody, and the bit about Idle in New Orleans interviewing old blues singers who supposedly inspired the band is a total throwaway. Besides, weren't the Beatles inspired by R & R pioneers like Chuck Berry and Little Richard rather than Muddy Waters? I think that's Idle's one slip-up to Beatle history.
This movie will be compared, perhaps unfavorably, to This Is Spinal Tap. I think they're about even. But for the definite word on Beatles (or Rutles) commentary, this is it. And the songs are even better than the jokes.
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