SHERDOG MOVIE CLUB: Week 131 - Withnail and I

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by europe1, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    NOTE to NON-MEMBERS: Interested in joining the SHERDOG MOVIE CLUB? Shoot me a PM for more info!

    Here's a quick list of all movies watched by the SMC. Or if you prefer, here's a more detailed examination.

    "Don't threaten me with a Dead Fish!"

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    Our Director

    Bruce Robinson

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    Such is the mythology that has sprung up around Bruce Robinson's first film, the openly autobiographical Withnail and I (1987), that it's often hard to separate fact from fiction. But the facts appear to be these: trained as an actor at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, he got off to a good early start when he was given a reasonably prominent part as Benvolio in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Julia (1968). But despite this and other parts for the likes of Ken Russell (The Music Lovers (1971)) and François Truffaut (the male lead in L'histoire d'Adèle H. (1975)), he found that acting mostly involved fruitless waiting for the phone to ring interspersed with the occasional TV commercial, while desperately trying to make ends meet. So he began writing screenplays in the mid-1970s, and was lucky enough to secure the patronage of producer David Puttnam who finally produced Robinson's script about Cambodia, The Killing Fields (1984) for which he was nominated for an Oscar. But cult success was to come a couple of years later when he wrote and directed Withnail and I (1987), a film about the squalid lives of two unemployed actors that was elevated to iconic status by students all over the world and which shot newcomer Richard E. Grant to stardom. Robinson's subsequent films, the advertising satire How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989) and the serial-killer thriller Jennifer 8(1992), while less memorable than his debut, both show that Robinson has more than enough intelligence and brio to make his future career worth following.

    Our Stars

    Richard E. Grant

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    Paul McGann
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    Premise: In 1969, two substance-abusing, unemployed actors retreat to the countryside for a holiday that proves disastrous.

    Budget: £1.1 Million

    Box Office: £565,112​
    Trivia
    (Courtesy of the IMDB)
    * The first preview screening appeared to be a total disaster - the audience sat there stony-faced, never laughing once. It was only after the screening had concluded that a distraught Bruce Robinson discovered that the audience was comprised entirely of non-English speaking German tourists who were all staying at a hotel nearby.

    * When director Bruce Robinson was appearing in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Julia (1968), the gay director tried constantly to seduce him. Robinson incorporated many of Zeffirelli's chat-up lines into Uncle Monty's dialog as he pursues Marwood.

    * Daniel Day-Lewis was offered but declined the role of Withnail. Among the other actors who tested for it were Kenneth Branagh and Edward Tudor-Pole.

    * It was this film that prompted the family of Jimi Hendrix to take back full control over the use of his songs. They had grown dismayed by the association of Hendrix with drug culture in general.

    * Handmade Films kept back £30,000 of Bruce Robinson's fee to pay for the scenes when Withnail and Marwood are driving through the rainstorm to get to Uncle Monty's cottage. The producers didn't believe these scenes were needed, but the director considered them essential. He was never reimbursed his money after the film's success.

    * Film debuts of Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann.



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  2. Cubo de Sangre

    Cubo de Sangre Steel Belt

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    Not sure about this one. Like a combination of Sideways and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, but time-warped back to somewhere in England. There were a few good laughs. The drug guru guy was funny. Overall though it was a relief when the film ended.

    Not gonna lie. Had to watch it with subtitles.
     
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  3. Rimbaud82

    Rimbaud82 Brown Belt

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    This is my favourite comedy! I have seen it so many times I don't even need to rewatch it, but I'll be curious to see what those who are watching for the first time think, particularly those not from Britain or Ireland. Although completely different in style, I'd say this film is somewhat similar to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in that one of it's primary themes is the hangover from the '60s. It seems to perfectly capture that period (as I imagine it anyway), grimy London tenement buildings with wannabe intellectuals and zapped out drugees. So many hilarious scenes - the washing up scene "how dare you call me inhumane!", the pub scene "who fucks asses, maybe he fucks asses.....", the whole cottage episode with Monty trying to bum 'I', the scene in the village teashop "we want the finest wines available to humanity", the drive back to London "I've only had a few light ales" and finally, the camberwell carrot. Great performances from Grant and McGann too, especially since Grant was a non-drinker in real life! I just love this film.

    In certain respects I can identify with the two of them as well as my own experiences with friends of mine lol.
     
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  4. Rimbaud82

    Rimbaud82 Brown Belt

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    <45><45><45><45>
     
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  5. Deus Ex Machina

    Deus Ex Machina Look at that neck bitch

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    I love this film, i actually went to a screening at uncle montys cottage in July, they do it every year and I'd recomend it to anyone.

    I can't remember the first time i saw this film but its by far the film i've seen most often, i just never tire of it.
    Its fascinating to image that level of squalor in London compared to what it is now yet when you see the village (its actually not Penrith, is in buckinghamshire)that place has not changed a bit.

    I think if you need subtitles you may lose something here, I just struggle to see why anyone would unless English is a second language?
     
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  6. GSPSAKU

    GSPSAKU Brown Belt

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    Saw this as a young kid, fell in and out of slumber during the viewing. Didn't know the film title but saw this and looked at the trailer and then I faintly recalled watching it. I can only remember thinking it was stupid and definitely not funny...but I was 11. Will watch it sometime this week and report back.
     
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  7. Rimbaud82

    Rimbaud82 Brown Belt

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    I was thinking the same thing!
     
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  8. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    Hello, firm young carrots! (oh, and you too @Tufts!)

    I didn't expect the film to focus so heavily on the comedic terrors of potentially being buggered by a heavyset, cosmopolitan, fey gay man!

    I thought it was fairly funny. Not being British, I guess I'm just not in the proper zeitgeist. But it was interesting throughout. The strengths of this movie were sort of like the strengths of Driller Killer, seeing strange, lived-in places accompanied by strange, lived-in people to match said places.

    Honestly, when the protagonists point out that Uncle Monty is gay I was like "Wait... you mean that you and Whitnail aren't?":D
     
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  9. Rimbaud82

    Rimbaud82 Brown Belt

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    How dare you compare Withnail to Driller Killer!! :p
     
  10. Deus Ex Machina

    Deus Ex Machina Look at that neck bitch

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    I think the dialogue is what does it really, the quaint theatrical expressions are what makes this film, firm young carrots, toilet traders, i intend to have you even if its burglary..... its funny that if you hang around enough brits you'll here these expressions used and you just know they're a fan.
     
  11. Cubo de Sangre

    Cubo de Sangre Steel Belt

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    I struggle every day watching people not grasp simple logic in the War Room but there it is. :eek::D

    What can I say, between slang and different pronunciations I was missing about 1/4 of the dialogue. Some characters were more easily understood than others.
     
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  12. Nailgun

    Nailgun White Belt Platinum Member

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    A cult classic in the UK, the dull backdrop makes it even more so. They could not make an equivalent version of this film today; it truly represents a sign of the times. The presence of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles is very fitting.

    A simple plot, the characters make this film really stand out. The dialogue is consistently well timed, dry and very funny throughout. Presents a catalogue of well delivered great one liners. My favorite part of the film is the journey on the road to the Uncle Montys cottage. The fool proof plan to avoid a DUI is incredible.

    Richard E Great is fantastic in this! Prior to Withnail, I hated him in every single film up until I saw this. He absolutely dominates every scene he is present. What makes his performance even more special is that he does not touch alcohol, yet he nails the role perfectly in his big screen debut.

    I enjoyed every minute of this film right up until the end, which sucks balls. It has a sobering feeling of reality kicking in which I hate each time I re-watch Withnail.
     
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  13. Nailgun

    Nailgun White Belt Platinum Member

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    Drinking game for Withnail & I: Match the characters drink for drink, when the characters drink, you drink.

    This involves nine and a half glasses of red wine, half a pint of cider, one shot of lighter fluid, two and a half shots of gin, six glasses of sherry, thirteen glasses of whisky and half a pint of ale.
     
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  14. Rimbaud82

    Rimbaud82 Brown Belt

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    I have been meaning to do this, the common thing is to use vinegar for the lighter fluid.
     
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  15. Yotsuya

    Yotsuya Green Belt

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    My third viewing. Still a great movie and kind of timeless. While watching I actually forgot, that it takes place in 60’s, until they got back to the city. I like movies with this kind of snippet storylines a lot. The last 30 minutes is not that entertaining, but a solid comedown, so the movie on the whole feels grounded and not just a stream of drunken goofiness.

    I’m not sure, but I think that last time I saw this, the end monologue was what got me into Shakespeare. At least I really feel like watching Zeffirelli’s Hamlet again.
     
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  16. Zer

    Zer Gold Belt

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    I love the film but I always hated McGann. I thought maybe I just hated the character (And I kinda do), but I hated McGann in other films too so I think he just has a look that grinds my gears. Thing is, for his importance in the film I wouldn't say he really holds it back.

    I always found the ending so sad. McGann, a complete nobody, moving forward with his life and then Withnail belts out that monologue and shows he's on a different level of talent and potential but there's no one there to see it, and no one will ever see it. He'll always just be a drunk.

    <mma1>
     
  17. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    Boy, that film escalated on me at the very end. I'm watching it as a comedy and it does have some funny lines and happenings but the end turned it into something else for me. Whitnail and I is really sort of bleak in terms of what happens between friends when one of them moves on or makes it good in life and the other doesn't. The film title itself tells you that its from the perspective of "I", Whitnail and I. Obviously, at its heart, its a comedy but that ending, that god damned ending did something to me.

    Generally when I watch films for the club I pay close attention to the props of the film, the artwork, posters, grafitti, books or magazines, obscure references, anything that will give me insight into what is really being said and directors almost always put these things in, even if subtle at times. About halfway through the film, "I" is reading a book that flashes on screen, clearly readable as Journey's End by R.C. Sheriff. Journey's end was published in 1929.

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    Journey's End was also a 3 act play of the same name in 1929 starring Colin Clive and directed by James Whale, you may notice the bottle of booze sitting on the table next to Clive.

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    Some variants of the book also have bottles of liquor on the table by a skull.

    [​IMG]

    The book is about several men's experiences in an officers dugout during WWI and takes place over a period of 4 days. Whitnail and I also seems to be about their journey, including an incredible amount of alcohol, and takes place over what appears to be 3 or 4 days. R.C. Sheriff considered called the book "Waiting" or "Suspense" but ended up calling it Journey's End which was from a line in an unidentified book.

    It didn't occur to me that the end of the film was going to turn the way it did but after researching it some I think its far more brilliant than just a comedy about a couple of alcoholics misadventures. This is from a synopsis of Act 3 of Journey's End.

    The German attack on the British trenches approaches, and the Sergeant Major tells Stanhope they should expect heavy losses. When it arrives, Hibbert is reluctant to get out of bed and into the trenches.

    A message is relayed to Stanhope telling him that Raleigh has been injured by a shell and that his spine is damaged meaning that he can't move his legs. Stanhope orders that Raleigh be brought into his dugout. He comforts Raleigh while he lies in bed. Raleigh says that he is cold and that it is becoming dark; Stanhope moves the candle to his bed and goes deeper into the dugout to fetch a blanket, but, by the time he returns, Raleigh has died. The shells continue to explode in the background. Stanhope receives a message that he is needed. He gets up to leave and, after he has exited, a mortar hits the dugout causing it to collapse and entomb Raleigh's corpse.

    Whitnail = Raleigh
    "I" = Stanhope

    Notice how Raleigh complains of being cold, just as Whitnail did. Stanhope ("I") stays with him as long as he can but Raleigh dies and Stanhope ends up leaving the dugout as it is destroyed by a bomb, entombing Raeigh. The end of Whitnail and I is a deadly death-strike to Whitnail, if not just the death of their friendship, the actual death of Whitnail that awaits him. He is an alcoholic, being evicted from his apartment, has no future, no money, and now his best friend "I" has moved on with his life, cutting his hair and moving on to something else.

    "I" even tells Whitnail, I'm going to miss you. He and Whitnail know that this is the Journey's End. I enjoyed the comedy aspect of this film but in no way was prepared for the final 5 or 10 minutes.
     
  18. sickc0d3r

    sickc0d3r Black Belt

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    How did ya'll watch this? I can pull the trailer up on netflix, prime video, and google play, but the actual movie is not available to watch on any of them for some reason.
     
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  19. HenryFlower

    HenryFlower (sheesh!)

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    Yeah, I’ve been having trouble finding it online as well.

    I think I might have to TOTALLY LEGALLY download it because I’m honestly not familiar enough w/ the film to blind buy a physical copy.
     
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  20. Rimbaud82

    Rimbaud82 Brown Belt

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    For fuck sake MusterX you certainly go deep down these rabbit holes in search of some hidden meanings o_O:D

    I think you have gone a bit too deep here, he's probably reading that book because the director saw some affinities between the characters, maybe it was a favourite book of his, there are many reasons it may be there rather than reducing the plot of Withnail and I to an actual retelling/recasting of that story.
     

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