Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA/United Kingdom, 1988. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Prominent Features, Star Partners Limited Partnership. Story by John Cleese, Charles Crichton, Screenplay by John Cleese. Cinematography by Alan Hume. Produced by Michael Shamberg. Music by John Du Prez. Production Design by Roger Murray-Leach. Costume Design by Hazel Pethig. Film Editing by John Jympson.
Americans Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline participate in a London jewel robbery with two other people, then stiff their companions in an attempt to run off with the loot. After they’ve turned in their main accomplice (Tom Georgeson), they discover that he moved the jewelry they stole before he was picked up by the police and is the only one who knows where it is. The fourth member of their team, an animal lover with a problematic stammer (Michael Palin in a hilarious performance) isn’t able to give the couple the information they need, so Curtis decides to go straight to the source. She makes friends with Georgeson’s barrister (John Cleese, who also wrote the screenplay) and seduces him, all the while trying to keep mentally unstable Kline’s jealousy from ruining her every attempt to achieve her goals. Upon its release this film was highly celebrated as a pinnacle of comedy achievement, with much praise for Kline’s capricious, heavily-improvised performance, the script and the direction by Charles Crichton, here making his first feature in years after decades working on television. It has staled a bit in the years since, however, with Kline coming off a bit too mannered, while the rest is fun and easy to watch but hardly extraordinary. Curtis comes off the most enjoyable, with Cleese doing wonderful work (and enjoying some sexy chemistry with the lady), while Maria Aitken steals every scene she’s in as Cleese’s priggish, painfully British wife.
Academy Award: Best Supporting Actor (Kevin Kline)
Nominations: Best Director (Charles Crichton); Best Original Screenplay
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (John Cleese); Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Jamie Lee Curtis)