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
During Love Life, Stig's fake mustache is askew. See more »
In 1966 the Rutles faced the biggest threat to their careers. Nasty in a widely quoted interview had apparently claimed that the Rutles were bigger than God, and was reported to have gone on to say that God had never had a hit record. The story spread like wildfire in America. Many fans burnt their albums, many more burnt their fingers attempting to burn their albums. Album sales skyrocketed, People were buying them just to burn them. But in fact it was all a ghastly mistake. Nasty, talking to ...
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The original TV version contains one scene which is about 30 seconds longer than the alternate video version. Narrator Eric Idle asks Brian Thigh (Dan Aykroyd), the man who turned down the Rutles: "What's it like to be such a jerk?" He continues criticizing Thigh until he shoots himself. In the video version, Idle simply asks: "What's it like to be such an asshole?" See more »
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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