comedies


comedies
   British film comedy in the 1960s and early 1970s was dominated by sex comedies, such as Percy (1971) and The Love Pill (1971), inspired by farce and music hall and laden with double entendres and smutty jokes. The most famous of these are the Carry On films, produced by Peter Rogers and, beginning with the release of Carry On Sergeant in 1958, released at a rate of around two a year until the mid-1970s when the number slowed. Carry On Columbus (1992) revived the series with a cast drawn from ‘alternative’ comedy. Sex comedies, such as Personal Services (1987) and Rita and Sue and Bob Too (1987), continued to be produced.
   Many of the British comedies of the 1970s and 1980s were connected to television sketch shows and sitcoms (see situation comedy). In the early 1970s, successful sitcoms spawned films like Steptoe and Son (1972), Love Thy Neighbour (1973) and Porridge (1979). More notable films have been produced by the comedians involved with sketch comedy. The comics of Monty Python’s Flying Circus employed a similar sketch-based, surrealistic style of humour in And Now for Something Completely Different (1973), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), and The Meaning of Life (1983) while Life of Brian (1979) placed attacks on organized religion as well as left-wing cliquism in the context of a tighter plot. Members of the Python team, especially Terry Gilliam and John Cleese, have been involved in other successful comedies such as Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985), Clockwise (1985) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988). Eric Idle appeared along with Robbie Coltrane in the commercially successfully farce Nuns on the Run (1990). Similarly, The Comic Strip, in conjunction with director Peter Richardson, have been involved with the production of films like The Bullshitters (1984), The Supergrass (1985) and Eat the Rich (1988). Television comics Mel Smith and Griff Rhys-Jones also appeared in, amongst others, Morons from Outer Space (1985) and Smith has gone on to be a successful comedy director. Many of the comedies of the 1980s and 1990s have character-based stories, employing drama as well as humour and addressing issues of racism, homophobia, poverty and political disillusionment. This is true of Stephen Frears and Hanif Kureishi’s films My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1988), Bruce Robinson’s Withnail and I (1986), Robert Smith’s The Love Child (1987) and Gurinda Chadha’s Bhaji on the Beach (1993) as well as the films of Mike Leigh, including Bleak Moments (1971), High Hopes (1988), Life is Sweet (1990) and Secrets and Lies (1996). Character-based comedy also characterizes the films of Bill Forsyth, including Gregory’s Girl (1981), Local Hero (1983) and Comfort and Joy (1984). Forsyth’s Housekeeping (1987) was funded by Hollywood, as are many other prominent British films such as Educating Rita (1983). Recently, animated comedy films have come to prominence, mainly due to the Oscar-winning success of Nick Park’s Wallace and Grommit films.
   See also: comedy on television
   Further reading
    Walker, J. (1985) The Once and Future Film, London: Methuen.
   NICOLE MATTHEWS

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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