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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

W.S. Gilbert's quip about a prostitute dying of consumption in a garret refers to Verdi's opera "La Traviata." See more »

Goofs

During the performance, Katisha's kimono is wrapped incorrectly. All Kimono wrap from the right side of the body to the left (i.e. the right side folds over the left), but her kimono wraps from left to right. Every other character has her/his kimono wrapped correctly. See more »

Quotes

Richard Barker: And now, sir, I am going in search of some Italian hokey-pokey, and I care not who knows it.
See more »


Soundtracks

Incantation
(1877)
from "The Sorcerer"
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
Performed by Martin Savage, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson and chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Positive, glowing recommendation
26 December 2003 | by jkhalsa-1See all my reviews

I am a violinist who has done a lot of theater shows and have seen lots of theater rehearsal.

For me this film has everything - the scenery is more lavish and beautiful than I've ever witnessed anywhere. For me, the interest _is_ the behind-the-scenes view of the actors. The fact that Allan Corduner (Sullivan) is actually a musician (not just miming the piano work) is a real plus. The scene of the recital of his "Lost Chord" was a marvelous musical moment. It captured the atmosphere of an old-style home recital, with earnest artists and elegant surroundings. And the rehearsal scene with the trio Grossmith (Koko), Barrington (Poo-bah), and Beauville each singing why they can't chop their own heads off is a marvelous view of what rehearsal can and should be like. Everyone has learned their words but now we're refining the artistry. The director assumes the viewer is well versed and doesn't beat him over the head. I feel honored that I am being treated as an intelligent watcher. When Gilbert says to Beauville, "I've gone to great length to give you triplets..... so let's do it again and let's ....'trip'", and they do, and it really works, I get the feeling that they live in and understand my world. Every moment of the film has for me a beauty.

The snippets of the other G&S operettas are astounding. The wake-up scene in The Sorcerer is probably only a minute long, but each word and glance is well chosen, and everyone is in perfect character. Like the cliché, "Every bride is beautiful.", every man and woman in this cast is beautiful.

Another remarkable moment in the film is Temple's "Mikado Song" when he dances, and the aftermath where Gilbert cuts the number and it then gets reinstated by the chorus men and women cornering Gilbert in the stairwell. My experience is that people in theater really do care for each other and they wish each other well. When someone does something of artistic merit, they know it, and want it to be displayed.

Almost every moment of this film rings true to me as a musician, and I treasure it. I can start this video at any random spot on the tape and find something to enjoy for 10 seconds or for another hour.

Because much of the film centers around Mikado, anyone who has ever worked on Mikado as an actor, crew, or musician will find much to enjoy. For someone who is not at all familiar with that operetta, I could understand them feeling that they can't see the continuity-- because the director has chosen not to repeat things. You will see this part and that part in preliminary stages of rehearsal but not again later, so if you saw the behind the scenes work, you won't see the 'finished product' except in the case of "Three Little Maids."

I was left wishing that this cast actually had created a full length version of Mikado, but alas I don't believe they did; all this work was for the sake of this film and it's not a documentary of an actual living repertory group.


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