7.6/10
118,763
198 user 110 critic

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

R | | Comedy, Crime | 5 August 1988 (USA)
In London, four very different people team up to commit armed robbery, then try to doublecross each other for the loot.

Directors:

Charles Crichton, John Cleese (uncredited)

Writers:

John Cleese (story), Charles Crichton (story) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,858 ( 180)

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ON DISC
Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Cleese ... Archie Leach
Jamie Lee Curtis ... Wanda Gershwitz
Kevin Kline ... Otto
Michael Palin ... Ken Pile
Maria Aitken ... Wendy
Tom Georgeson Tom Georgeson ... Georges Thomason
Patricia Hayes Patricia Hayes ... Mrs. Coady
Geoffrey Palmer ... Judge
Cynthia Cleese ... Portia (as Cynthia Caylor)
Mark Elwes Mark Elwes ... Customer in Jeweler's Shop
Neville Phillips Neville Phillips ... Manager of Jeweler's Shop
Peter Jonfield Peter Jonfield ... Inspector Marvin
Ken Campbell Ken Campbell ... Bartlett
Al Ashton Al Ashton ... Warder
Roger Hume Roger Hume ... Locksmith
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Storyline

In London, George Thomason, his seductive American girlfriend Wanda Gershwitz, and their associate Ken Pile are planning their latest crime, a diamond heist that should net them £13 million. They plan on leaving the country with the goods after the heist. On Wanda's recommendation, they enlist the help of her brother, Otto, a weapons expert, for this heist. In reality, Otto is not Wanda's brother, but her latest lover, a dimwit who gets off on his own body odor, who believes he's an intellectual because he reads Nietzsche, and who does not tolerate being called stupid by anyone. Wanda has one weakness in men which is how Otto was able to get her to be his lover: speaking Italian in seduction. Wanda and Otto plan to double cross George by having him arrested for the heist, while they abscond with the jewels. Wanda further plans to triple cross Otto by eliminating him from the picture after she has the jewels. They are able to get George arrested with him not knowing who tipped the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge, and seafood. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Italian | Russian | French

Release Date:

5 August 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ein Fisch namens Wanda See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$115,418, 17 July 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$63,493,712
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006. See more »

Goofs

When the crew meets for the first time before the robbery, Otto throws a knife at a poster on the wall where it hits the a baby seal on a poster exactly between the eyes. Later in the movie the poster is undamaged. See more »

Quotes

Otto: I love robbing the English, they're so polite.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the very end of the closing credits is the word FIN -- which is how French films say THE END, but in English a "fin" is a part of a fish. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fierce Creatures (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Deutschlandlied
Written by Franz Joseph Haydn and August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Funniest Movie Ever Made
31 May 1999 | by DanB-4See all my reviews

This is the only film I ever paid to see two days in a row. I missed too much of it the first time because of my own hysterical snorting laughter.

This is a work of comic genius. And, like any good film, the screenplay is at the heart of the belly laughs. Every character is given a detailed personality quirk or two, and then it is shamefully exploited for laugh after laugh. Note for example, John Cleese's speech to Jamie Lee Curtis about how awful it is to be British - the eternal fear of embarrassment. Moments later, he is caught buck naked in a marital tryst in some else's flat by the people to used to live in his own home. Also, the funny-offensive envelope is pushed to the limit when K-K-K-Ken (Michael Palin), the passionate animal lover inadvertently kills three innocent dogs in his attempt to murder an old woman who would otherwise be a prosecution witness. Now that's funny!

Cleese's character, Archie Leach (Carey Grant's real name) is a likable buffoon of a lawyer, happy in his banal existence until he meets the sexy American, Wanda (Jamie Lee). I cannot even being to describe the plot beyond that point without doing it a grave disservice. It twists and dangles about in a world of double-cross and goldfish-eating for no other reason than to set up a joke.

You cannot speak of this film without mention of Kevin Kline as Otto, a role that won him a richly-deserved Oscar. Otto is the ex-CIA "weapons man" who makes it his business to read philosophy but would be more at home with Curious George. An obsessive, self-indulgent, painfully stupid, violent, deceitful, gullible egomaniac, the character of Otto is amongst the best comedic performances ever delivered.

The film's funniest scene takes place at Leach's (Cleese) house. In a scene that rivals anything that has ever hit the screen for laughs, the film and its scripts looks deep enough into itself to even give Cleese's dry-as-toast wife a laugh or two. Then, later on, this scene proves to be the set up for even more jokes. A Fish Called Wanda is pure comedy and every scene either provides a laugh or sets one up - it graciously does not waste our time trying to be moral or turning into a formula car-chase flick.

My comments are choppy but so is this movie. If you see it and don't laugh, check your pulse. We have only been given a handful of good comedies in the last decade. A Fish Called Wanda is a treasure. **** out of ****.

NOTE: TBS and some other TV networks show this film with the "offensive language" edited out. It kills the movie - if you can't hack the language, pass this one over.


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