Very Naughty Boys: The Amazing True Story of HandMade Films
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The incredible, hilarious insider's story of Britain's favourite film company!
It all started when Beatle George Harrison stepped in to fund Life of Brian when Monty Python's original backers pulled out. His company, HandMade films, went on to make some of the best British films of the 80s (Withnail and I, Time Bandits and Mona Lisa among them), but then things started to go wrong... This is the incredible and often hilarious insiders' story of what happened...
prudence and had no qualms in hiring him as his business manager. Within a year, O’Brien was handling all Harrison’s financial and tax affairs. Gilliam observes, ‘The way I was told it, the reason Denis had actually got George was that he showed him that there was all this money out there that had never been collected from all the songs and records. So Denis set up an operation to collect the royalties from all over the world, and suddenly George was in the money again.’ A handy situation to be
Palin’s gentle hostility towards Los Angeles didn’t stop him from passing on sound advice to others undecided about whether to give Hollywood a go or return to the relatively secure bosom of blighty. Cleveland remembers, ‘Michael said to me one day, “Carol, you really ought to think about staying here for a bit. The show is huge and several people have spoken to me about you. I think you’d be wise to stay here for a bit.” And, indeed, I should have done. I should have grabbed my chance and it’s
quite a reasonably easy part to play. I don’t think it was as demanding, for instance, as some of the things in Python when you’re playing lots of different characters, having to invent something new each time. In a sense, that’s where acting skill is really important because you have a very short time to build up the character. I think people do tend to underestimate the sort of acting that goes into comedy films, especially group comedy films, because they go, “Oh, they’re just larking about
was playing, it being a sin to do so. Embarrassed by the gathering storm of controversy, Warner Brothers, the US distributor of Brian, issued a statement regretting any offence that may have been caused. ‘The film is a satire,’ it read, ‘and should be viewed in this context.’ Indeed, the Australian film journal Cinema Papers suggested that Brian was saved from blasphemy by its sheer vulgarity, dismissing it as merely an expensive piece of slapstick, ‘as if the writers of the Carry On films have
teamed with the design staff of Dino de Laurentiis’. And, if anything, the protests increased. Failing in their bid to bring a prosecution against the Python movie, assorted religious groups combined to march as one upon the Warner Communications building at the Rockerfeller Center. Gilliam says of that time, ‘I thought at least getting the Catholics, Protestants and Jews all protesting against our movie was fairly ecumenical on our part. We only missed out on the Muslims. And I thought that was