A Fish Called Wanda (1988) Poster


In 1989, when this film was shown in the theaters in Denmark, a Danish man named Ole Bentzen, a Danish audiologist, literally laughed himself to death during the scene where Ken gets the chips up his nose. Bentzen's heart rate went between 250-500 beats per minute and he eventually succumbed to cardiac arrest. The story behind this is that the man had made a joke a few years earlier with his family during dinner, where he put a piece of cauliflower up his and every family members nose as a joke and made a bet with them on who could eat up their carrots without the cauliflower falling out. When the scene with Ken and the chips came up, he started thinking about this dinner-incident and laughed so hard that his heart stopped. This story is well known in Scandinavia and spread around as almost an "urban legend" shortly after it happened. It was confirmed by his son, who also told the dinner-story as an explanation to why his father laughed so hard during the chips-scene that he died.
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Jamie Lee Curtis buried her face in pillows during Kevin Kline's ejaculation scene, to keep her from bursting out laughing at the faces he was making.
Kevin Kline begged John Cleese to let Otto speak French instead of Italian when he wants to seduce Jamie Lee Curtis, since Kline speaks French. Cleese insisted that it had to be Italian. Kline started singing "Volare" because he ran out of Italian cheeses and other Italian phrases that he could ad lib, and was concerned that the director did not yell cut, since the producers did not own the rights to "Volare" when the scene was being filmed. The italian dubbed version use spanish phrases.
Leach's daughter Portia is played by John Cleese's real-life daughter Cynthia Cleese, credited as Cynthia Caylor.
A Fish Called Wanda is the most successful film former Pythons John Cleese and Michael Palin have made. Cleese considers this to be his favorite film of the many he has been involved with. Although he considered his previous film, Clockwise (1986), to be the best script which had been written for him as a lead, it had flopped in America.
John Cleese chose the name Archie Leach, Cary Grant's real name, because he was born 20 miles away from where Grant was born (Hughenden Road, Horfield, Bristol), and because it was the closest Cleese could get to being Grant.
When Otto leaves Archie's home, he says to Archie's wife Wendy that they would all speak German without the USA. He leaves the house while singing the first verse of the anthem: "Deutschland über alles". The German dubbed version has an altered dialog, he says that they'd all eat sauerkraut and listen to military marches, then he imitates some military marches instead of singing the anthem, as the first verse is considered too nationalist and generally not sung in public.
In the robbery scene, it really was Kevin Kline who shot the crossbow at the sensor. Kevin got the shot off correctly on the second take.
Michael Palin went on to found the London Centre for Stammering Children after a group of stutterers confronted him regarding the sensitivity with which he dealt with Ken's handicap in this film.
Michael Palin's father stuttered, so Michael used a lot his real life experience when playing Ken, including the fact that Ken's stutter is less pronounced around people he trusts (Tom and Wanda) and worse around people he is uncomfortable with (Otto).
John Cleese's character is called Archie Leach, which is Cary Grant's real name.
Jamie Lee Curtis was listed as "Jamie Lee Schwartz" on all the call sheets, because John Cleese found it amusing that her father Tony Curtis's real name was Bernard Schwartz.
Archie speaks in Italian: "Ma ho sposato una donna che preferisce lavorare in giardino a fare l'amore appassionato. Uno sbaglio grande!", what translates as: "But I married a woman who prefers working in the garden to making passionate love. A big mistake!". It can actually refer to Archie's marriage.
George Thomason is played by Tom Georgeson.
Kevin Kline won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar without winning any previous awards during the awards season (only received a Bafta nomination), which is a rare feat in terms of Oscar winners.
John Cleese claims that this is Charles Crichton's movie. He merely took a co-director credit to reassure studio execs who were worried about Crichton's advanced age and the fact that he had not directed a theatrical movie for 23 years. The only major work Cleese did as director was near the end of the shoot, when he handled various scenes mostly involving Michael Palin, to allow Crichton to start overseeing the editing.
When Otto (Kevin Kline), suggests possible snitchers to George, he suggests Kevin Delaney, which are Kline's first and middle names.
When the film was aired on TV in the U.S., many stations deleted the "chips up the nostrils" scene, deeming it insensitive to individuals with mental impairments.
Director Charles Crichton's last film.
Wanda kisses all of the major male characters at some point.
During the love scene, when Wanda opens up her blouse, Otto says in broken Italian "Ecco le due cupole del catedrale di Milano!" which translates "There are the two domes of the Milan cathedral." Milan's cathedral, actually, has no domes at all.
Michael Palin thought the script was awful when he first read it and recorded his low opinion of it in his diary.
John Cleese who plays British barrister Archie Leach actually entered Cambridge University as a law student although he never became a member of the British bar.
In the original English version, Otto speaks Italian in some scenes with Wanda. In the Italian dubbed version he speaks Spanish.
Holds record of Longest Time to Reach #1 as of 2009. The movie was released on 15 July 1988 in the U.S., and reached #1 on 16 September 1988.
For the French dubbed version when Wanda states that Otto mistook the Gettysburg Address for Lincoln's residence, it is replaced with Wanda stating that Otto mistook General Motors for a hero of the war of '14.
John Cleese has said in interviews that Patricia Hayes was the only cast member not to have any material deleted during editing.
The poem Archie Leach recites in Russian for Wanda Gershwitz is Molitva (1839) by Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841).
Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
The role of Wanda Gershwitz was written for Jamie Lee Curtis.
Archie and Wendy sleep in separate beds, just like Basil and Sybil in Fawlty Towers (1975), also co-created by John Cleese.
One of Otto's lines throughout the movie is "Don't call me stupid." In The Ladykillers (1955), One Round didn't like to be called stupid either. Director Charles Crichton was a veteran of the Ealing films, most famously directing The Lavender Hill Mob (1951).
The principal interior setting was the flat of Nicholas Lacey and playwright wife Juliet Aykroyd, in a loft development in a former warehouse at Reeds Wharf, Docklands, London.
Was #6 on Roger Ebert's list of the Best Films of 1988.
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The scene where Otto sits up in the background behind Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is reminiscent of a scene in Halloween (1978), in which the character of Michael Myers sat up behind Curtis' character.
In the opening sequence that introduces the principal cast, a model of the Eiffel Tower can be seen over Michael Palin's shoulder. This may be a reference to Charles Crichton's earlier film The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), in which Alec Guinness tries to smuggle the stolen gold out of England by melting the gold down and disguising the stolen gold as a model of the Eiffel Tower.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
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John Cleese and Kevin Kline previously appeared together in Silverado
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James Cossins' scenes (he played a bank teller) were cut from the film.
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The British Airways plane that can be seen at the airport is a Boeing 747-236 called "City of Manchester", registration G-BDXC. It was sold to European Skybus Ltd & scrapped in 2002 after about 25 years of service.
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Kevin Kline's Oscar winning performance in this film is his only Academy Award nomination.
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[Warning: Contains spoiler for the 'Halloween' films]Jamie Lee Curtis' character says that she would want to have sex with the murderous psychopath Otto even if he was her brother. In the Halloween series of films she is pursued with an incestuous subtext by her murderous psychopath half-brother.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The fish that Kevin Kline eats are made out of Jello. Kline claims that he offered to eat real, live fish, but the filmmakers wouldn't let him.
The dog death scenes were originally filmed with entrails from a butchers scattered around the dead dog. Preview audiences reacted strongly to this, so the scenes were reshot with an obviously fake straw dog.
The hymn that the choirboys sing at the dogs' funerals is: Miserere Dominus, miserere Dominus, Canis mortuus est, which translated into English is: Have mercy, Lord; have mercy, Lord; the dog is dead.
One of two films released in 1988 in which the main villain is run over with a steamroller and survives, the other being Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

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