Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Private Function

Dir: Malcolm Mowbray - 1985
Shown at The FeckenOdeon in early 2001
You’ll never be able to look a pork scratching in the same light after this piece of British whimsy. The world of Alan Bennett could hardly be further away from the highly charged atmosphere of a Hitchcock film - but there is tension here. “Will he or won’t he?” is the question throughout the film. Maggie Smith powers her way through all obstacles, Michael Palin proves that he can act, Liz Smith charms us with yet another dotty old lady - BUT it’s the pig that matters. “It’s not just pork, it’s power!!” Three porcine thespians were used to play “Betty” and, even on a good day, it took upwards of 15 takes to get the animals to do what was required of them. Human actors would rehearse with a stuffed pig and then hope that the real thing would be just as co-operative.
Bennett had written much for the small screen but this was his first effort for the movies. More recently he’s adapted Joe Orton’s biography “Prick up Your Ears” and his own stage play “The Madness of King George”.

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