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Sir Kenry at Rawlinson End - DVD review (4 stars)

Sir Kenry at Rawlinson End

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(12) 73min (Digital Classics DVD retail)

SPOOF/COMEDY

Confoundedly eccentric, inordinately shambolic and downright hilarious, this one-of-a-kind British cinema oddity plays like a collaboration between Luis Buñuel and the Monty Python team. It’s actually the fever dream of Vivian Stanshall (of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band fame), whose portrait of a raving lunatic English lord (blustery Trevor Howard) and his extended demented family was originally written for radio (with the late, great John Peel). The film’s director Steve Roberts, who contributes a very funny, enlightening commentary to the DVD’s interesting extras, helped Stanshall to adapt his absurdist skits from airwaves screened in 1980. They include Sir Henry shooting his servants and maintaining a POW camp on his estate (Knebworth House in Hertfordshire) long after the end of WWII, younger brother Hubert (Stanshall) fishing for submerged hairdressers in the pond, son Ralph playing billiards mounted on his horse, and the ghost of older brother Humbert (who was mistaken for a duck while absconding from an illicit tryst and accidentally shot) being exercised by a defrocked drunken clergyman (Patrick Magee). Roberts and the excellent cast do a fine job of visualising Stanshall’s bonkers creations, but the dialogue, largely Sir Henry’s, remains priceless: ‘If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth forcing someone else to do it’; ‘If I want your opinion I’ll thrash it out of you’; and ‘I don’t know what I want, but I want it now!’

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