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The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983)

A group of down-and-out accountants mutiny against their bosses and sail their office building onto the high seas in search of a pirate's life.


Terry Gilliam


Terry Gilliam

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sydney Arnold Sydney Arnold ... Crimson Permanent Assurance Pirate
Guy Bertrand Guy Bertrand
Andrew Bicknell
Ross Davidson Ross Davidson ... Very Big Corporation of America Executive
Myrtle Devenish ... Crimson Permanent Assurance Pirate
Tim Douglas Tim Douglas
Eric Francis Eric Francis ... Crimson Permanent Assurance Pirate
Matt Frewer ... Very Big Corporation of America Yuppie
Billy John Billy John
Russell Kilmister
Peter Mantle Peter Mantle
Len Marten ... Crimson Permanent Assurance Pirate
Peter Merrill Peter Merrill
Cameron Miller Cameron Miller
Gareth Milne Gareth Milne ... Crimson Permanent Assurance Pirate


In the bleak days of 1983, the Crimson Permanent Assurance, an accountancy staffed by elderly workers much like a slave ship, has been taken over by efficiency-minded corporate types. When they sack an employee, there's an uprising, and the building is unleashed from its moorings to sail across the (dry) ocean and take on the financial centers of the world, starting with an all-out attack on the large skyscraper housing The Very Big Corporation of America, complete with filing-cabinet cannons, ceiling-fan broadswords, and paper-spindle short-swords. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

May 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Crimson Permanent Assurance See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The central model on display inside the boardroom, contains the 'wings' of a Star Wars Tie Fighter. Probably Terry Gilliams thank you after George Lucas had commended him for his Space Battle segment in Monty Pythons Life of Brian. See more »


Spoofs The Crimson Pirate (1952) See more »


Accountancy Shanty
Music & Lyrics by Eric Idle & John Du Prez
See more »

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User Reviews

a sprawling, unnerving, and often hilarious work by the madman filmmaker of Python
15 August 2005 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

While the feature this short is presented after in succession, Monty Python's the Meaning of Life, is a very good comedy with the scattered laughs bringing some of their best moments, in sheer audacity and daring with the film-making the prize has to go to writer/director Terry Gilliam for his 'The Crimson Permanent Assurance' (in fact it did at Cannes in 83). The key to understanding it, or at least appreciating it, is knowing that it was originally meant to be shorter, much shorter, as one of the animated segways that connect the segments in the Monty Python sketches. This idea soon expanded for Gilliam, and his 'director bug' (right before his take-off to Brazil and right after his first two solo director outings) took over into this ideally cartoonish, surrealist, and perfectly anarchic comedy of will-power.

Sum up the story quick, will do- the workers at the Crimson Permanent Assurance company are old, very old, and very tired and beat down, like the ship rowers in Ben Hur. It finally breaks for their to be a revolution against the bosses, and the old men fight back. On this simple premise, Gilliam builds and builds (with extra help from cinematographer Roger Pratt, and a couple of the other Pythons as extras) until one wonders how this can even conceivably be made as entertainment. I once remember hearing Gilliam on the commentary for Holy Grail saying (sarcastically) 'the stuff in this film is so unjustifiable, its insane', and the same can definitely be said about this short film. It's big (this took up a million of the 7 or 8 million budget of Meaning of Life), its violent, its surprising, and while it maybe lacks only the sort of focused, dry British genius that was in the other members of Python, it certainly doesn't lack the daring of pushing the envelope (in this case, the Assurance 'ship' gets pushed off the world itself). Even when I wasn't laughing hard I was struck by the style of the direction, the fun in these old-school British actors, and the swashbuckling music.

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