Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Magic Christian

The Magic Christian really seems like it should be good. It stars Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers, for a start. I enjoy both of them! And the movie appears to include pretty much everyone. At one point during the opening credits, the names on the screen are Christopher Lee, Spike Milligan, Roman Polanski, and Raquel Welch. Then it says "Additional Material by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, and Peter Sellers." Then it mentions that the theme song, "Come and Get It", was by Paul McCartney. That's a pretty good pedigree!

Unfortunately, things degenerate pretty quickly into strenuous wackiness, in which Sellers adopts a number of silly voices in attempts to annoy the people around him and in the audience. Some of these did amuse me; for example, I greatly enjoyed the extremely odd "Hamlet" scene, in which the "To Be or Not To Be" soliloquy is done as an extremely slow, laconic mumble which turns into a striptease. Most of them, though, were not good.

For me, I think the high point was the cameo appearance by BBC news personality Alan Whicker, because I was finally able to compare the original version to the imitations that Monty Python's Flying Circus featured.

To the extent that The Magic Christian has a plot, it's about Guy Grand (Peter Sellers), who is a billionaire who gives people money to undermine their principles or something. At the beginning of the movie, he adopts a bum (Ringo Starr) he finds in the park. Ringo doesn't have much to do; he just sort of tags along and says "Right, dad!" a lot.

In this sort of situation, it is now traditional to complain that Sellers was only fifteen years older than Ringo. I would like to emphasize that I don't care about that. At all. Characters are frequently not the same age as the actors portraying them. That's why they invented wigs and makeup.

Anyway, the five Plot Keywords at IMDb are "Drag", "Yacht", "Satire", "Flame Thrower", and "Galley". I think that gives an accurately unfocused description of what to expect.


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Magic Christian since, what, 1969? But, from what I remember, "Nightmare Swimming Pool" would be an apt IMDb keyword, too.

Monty Ashley said...

Oh absolutely. Except it wasn't so much a "swimming pool" as a "pit of filth".

I love the IMDb keywords, because they're user-generated. That means that someone went through all the movies in the world, desperate to know which movies had galleys in them. There are some very odd ones out there, which must make some narrow fetishists very happy.