Sunday, July 05, 2015


This remarkably Discordian 1969 film, with Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, Raquel Welch, Roman Polanski, Laurence Harvey, Isabel Jeans, Christopher Lee, Hattie Jacques and Wilfrid Hyde-White -- among many, many others -- is one I hunted up recently and saw again after we lost Sir Christopher the other week. 

PLOT SUMMARY:  Sir Guy Grand, a terribly wealthy Englishman (Sellers), is strolling in the park one day when he comes across a young man living rough in the heart of London (Starr).  He becomes fascinated with the homeless lad, earns his trust -- then whips him into a solicitor's office and adopts him that same day.  We never find out who he was before or how he came to be living in the park, but he is now Youngman Grand.  Sir Guy sets out to show him the ropes of his new life.  This consists of taking Youngman to all the places wealthy Englishmen go to fill their time.  YOU KNOW THE DRILL.  They go to Sotheby's to look at the artworks up for auction.  They shoot some pheasant.  They attend a race on the Thames between England's top rowing teams, Oxford and Cambridge.  They watch Cruft's on telly.  Youngman and his dad attend a top-level meeting of the executives at Grand and Son, the conglomerate owned by Sir Guy. ALL THAT ROT.  And then, the real adventure -- they book passage on The Magic Christian, a brand-new, ultra-luxe cruise ship whose maiden voyage promises to be the social event of the season!!! 
If this sounds like a bunch of boring-a$$ Chauncey Uppercrust B.S., well, NO IT ISN'T.  This story is set in a world where nothing goes as expected, and that's often true because of Guy Grand himself.  This is a man on a mission, wanting to see how much he can GUM UP THE WORKS with his most powerful weapon:

I WON'T SPOIL THE STORY FOR YOU.  Suffice to say that Sir Guy does a GREAT job of COMFORTING THE AFFLICTED -- as when he freaks out a steam-cart vendor by paying for a hot dog, which costs ninepence, with a five-pound note.  When the man complains that he doesn't have that much change, Sir Guy hands him a tenner as well, and just then the train Guy is leaning out of starts to pull out of the station, leaving the hotdog vendor shrieking in frustration...But 15 pounds richer.  He does an even better job of AFFLICTING THE COMFORTABLE, for instance after a brief conversation with the Cambridge rowing team...But that's a long story.
By the time they board The Magic Christian, all of London is truly upset, but the fun is just beginning as the fabulous new cruiseliner gets underway.  Move over, S.S. Poseidon.  Here's one of my very favorite scenes:

Here's the question I never get answered, no matter how many times I see it:  how much of the mayhem is orchestrated by Sir Guy?  How much of it is just a typical day in the life for London?  Will we ever know?

One thing I do know is that Clovis Sangrail would be very, very impressed with Sir Guy.


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