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Topsy-Turvy (1999)

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Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.

Director:

Mike Leigh

Writer:

Mike Leigh
Won 2 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Allan Corduner ... Arthur Sullivan
Dexter Fletcher ... Louis
Sukie Smith Sukie Smith ... Clothilde
Roger Heathcott Roger Heathcott ... Stage Doorkeeper
Wendy Nottingham Wendy Nottingham ... Helen Lenoir
Stefan Bednarczyk Stefan Bednarczyk ... Frank Cellier
Geoffrey Hutchings Geoffrey Hutchings ... Armourer
Timothy Spall ... Richard Temple
Francis Lee ... Butt
William Neenan ... Cook
Adam Searle Adam Searle ... Shrimp
Martin Savage Martin Savage ... George Grossmith
Jim Broadbent ... William Schwenck Gilbert
Lesley Manville ... Lucy Gilbert (Kitty)
Kate Doherty Kate Doherty ... Mrs. Judd
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Storyline

After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes. Written by Steve Fenwick <scf@w0x0f.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The egos. The battles. The words. The music. The women. The scandals. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of risque nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | French | German | Italian | Japanese

Release Date:

11 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mike Leigh Untitled See more »

Filming Locations:

Hertfordshire, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,718, 19 December 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,201,757, 21 May 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Most modern recordings and performances of the Mikado's solo, "A More Humane Mikado" feature a bloodthirsty laugh between the verses. This touch was added by Darrell Fancourt, a D'Oyly Carte performer from 1920-1953, and has been copied ever since - which is why the laugh is not performed by Richard Temple (Timothy Spall). See more »

Goofs

Gilbert sarcastically suggests that Sullivan, wanting to write a more serious opera, might try to collaborate with "Mr. Ibsen in Oslo." At the period in which the movie is set, the city was named Christiania. See more »

Quotes

Richard Barker: [during a heat wave] I'm going out to seek a little Italian hokey-pokey, and I care not who knows it.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: Thank you, Barker.
Richard Barker: I shall not return with any for you sir... because it would melt. Au revoir.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The South Bank Show: Mike Leigh (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

If You Give Me Your Attention
(1884)
from "Princess Ida"
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
Performed by Martin Savage and chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I've no more shots in my locker
22 October 2002 | by ahab1013See all my reviews

Simply put, a brilliant film.

Topsy Turvy captures Gilbert and Sullivan in the midst of a turbulent period in their partnership. Desperate to be taken more seriously as a composer, Arthur Sullivan attempts to renege on the Gilbert and Sullivan contract with the Savoy Theatre. While his partner William S Gilbert struggles to come up with something new to write about. Each man, in a sense, is longing for individual acclaim but they are trapped in an entity neither one can shake. The fame of their collective energies has taken on a life of its own and the theater crowds want more.

The film is mostly the story of a theater production of the Mikado, one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most famous operas. Director Mike Leigh, notorious for writing on the go, has structured a play within a play to a great delight. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner are brilliant as Gilbert and Sullivan, and Tim Spall has a wonderful turn as one of the actors, Mr. Temple.

Their is more here than just two playwrights. The entire cast is seen as more than just pieces of a production. From choristers to administrative personnel, Topsy Turvy is alive with characters. One of the best is Gilbert's long-suffering wife Kitty. Bereft of children and saddled with a husband who doesn't show outward affection, Kitty (Lucy) could be a two dimensional afterthought. However, her pain at being childless is wonderfully played by Lesley Manville. It is clear they love each other but neither is capable of articulating that love, very odd for a man who writes for a living.

Filled with humor and grace, Topsy Turvy is one of the best films about acting and a beautiful embrace of all things theatrical.


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