nedjelja, 25. kolovoza 2013.

Richard Lester & Peter Sellers - The Running Jumping & Standing Still (1959)


Niz bizarnih skečeva. Filmić koji je omogućio pojavu Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Beatles’ second feature, Help!, was released on Blu-ray last month. The origin of the film’s visual humour and frenetic style can be found in this short directed by Richard Lester over two weekends in 1959, a collaboration between Lester, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and others. It may be nothing more than ten minutes of sight gags but it was enough for The Beatles to seek out Lester as director of their first two features. (Leo McKern, the actor in the opening shot, also appears in Help!) Considering the subsequent influence of those films—from The Monkees’ TV show on into numerous pop videos—this little film is very influential indeed. -


Peter Sellers was bored. It was 1959, and he was tired of appearing in The Goon Show with Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe.
While The Goon Show was still the biggest and most influential comedy show on British radio, Sellers was now a movie star, with a successful stage and TV career, and the offer of a tenth Goons series was too much to contemplate. He said:
‘I think we should leave it now before the standard goes down - we [Sellers, Secombe & Milligan] aren’t adding anything new and the original drive and enthusiasm has gone.’
Sellers was more of an anarchist than Milligan. Sellers wanted the unfettered life, to be free of all responsibilities. Milligan was far more predictable, he was enthralled by the success of his legacy.
Sellers pretended not to give a fuck. While Milligan’s ambitions meant he was often a shit to those people closest to him.
When The Goons first started, the rivalry between Milligan and Michael Bentine forced the latter to leave the group. Similarly, when Milligan worked with Goons co-writer Larry Stephens, he did everything in his power to belittle him. ‘Larry Stephens was small beer…’ Milligan once said:
‘He was never really a writer…Larry would occasionally think of an idea, but by then the show was over.’
TV writer, biographer and Goons expert, Roger Wilmut disagrees with Milligan’s opinion about his co—writer.
‘Stephens’s plots tend to have a beginning a middle, and an end; whereas Milligan’s tend to have a middle.’
Milligan was great at coming up with original, often brilliant ideas, but he needed someone to help structure these ideas into a coherent script. At first he had Jimmy Grafton, then Bentine, Stephens and Eric Sykes. He also had his producers, like Peter Eton who later said:
‘Spike used to have the marvelous lively extrovert ideas, and Larry used to bring them down to earth. Larry was the strong man. Spike used to have these paradoxical ideas and wrote them down in the form of one line gags. Most of it was rubbish, utter rubbish. It was Larry who used to pull it into shape and make sketches out of it.’
The seeming anarchy of Milligan’s Q series now seems like a collection of unfocussed gags. Yet, I have always preferred Q to The Goon Show.
By 1959, Stephens’ untimely death (he suffered a brain hemorrhage while driving a car, and died in hospital days later) left Milligan to write the final Goons series on his own. As he later viciously said:
‘Larry Stephens died conveniently, it was very nice of him, and I went on to write them on my own.’
Milligan’s response to his past life often depended on his mood, he also claimed (falsely and tearfully) that Stephens had died in his arms at a restaurant.
With no Stephens to fret over, Milligan turned on his fellow Goons, in particular Peter Sellers, whose film career, and successful stage and TV work, had greatly dimmed Milligan’s own success. It was up to Harry Secombe to act as peace-keeper.
Sellers wanted to do something new. Something different. Something with film. He bought a camera for £75, and suggested to Milligan they make a short movie together. The tried the camera out at Sellers home, then asked Dick Lester to direct, and over 2 days The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film was made.
When released in 1960, it was an incredible success, award-winning no less, and a direct influence on The Beatles to hire Lester to direct (and ask Leo McKern to star in) their fab movies.
But Milligan wasn’t happy. The success of The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film niggled, and he felt aggrieved over who was the real talent behind the film. Of course, he had to wait until after Seller’s death in 1980 to claim the film as his own:
I said to Peter [Sellers], ‘Look, films are being made for millions - I think we can make one (not very long) for - what’s the cost of the cameraman?’ He said, ‘Seventy-five pounds.’ So we paid that, and the sound engineer was fifty.
We had about twenty ragged characters in a van and we just drove up the Great North Road until we saw a suitable field…
We just went to the hill, and I wrote the script out, what I wanted roughly, and we had just to improvise how to do it.
Milligan also claimed, at a Goons Appreciation Society meeting, that he had in fact directed the whole thing.
So, that is Milligan’s version of events. What actually happened was that Dick Lester directed and operated the camera, and the script was a concoction between Sellers, Lester, Milligan and Mario Fabrizi (an actor and friend of Sellers), which included some re-workings of sketches lifted from the TV series The Idiot Weekly Price 2d, A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred, which had been the first collaborations between Lester, Milligan and Sellers.
The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film was shot over 2 days, with Milligan only in attendance for one of these days. It was then edited by Lester and Sellers in a bedroom at the actors home.

Inevitably, because of his incredible influence on British comedy, The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film was ( and still is by many) considered mainly a Milligan film, when it truth, it should be seen as a film devised by Peter Sellers in collaboration with Dick Lester, Spike Milligan and Mario Fabrizi. -

Director Richard Lester first worked with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan on three television series, The Idiot Weekly Price 2d, A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred (all ITV, 1956), each of them an early attempt to transfer the surreal humour of radio's The Goon Show to a visual medium.
Although these series were largely live and studio bound, both A Show Called Fred and its successor included a number of filmed inserts, predominantly shot in a field. The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film, itself entirely shot in a field, can be viewed as an extension of these inserts. Lester later acknowledged that even some of the sketches were variations on those filmed for the television series.
Following some earlier shooting by Sellers and Milligan, the majority of the film was shot over one or two Sundays (accounts vary) using Sellers' own 16mm camera, and edited by Lester and Sellers in the latter's bedroom. The sound effects and music score were added by Lester shortly afterwards.
While the style of comedy may be very much of its time, the film's employment of visual humour clearly owes a significant debt to silent cinema, with the sepia tint serving to reinforce the sense of homage (although sepia is a property of early photography, not cinema). This deliberate archaism is underpinned by the preponderance of late-Victorian/Edwardian clothing and props: top hats, plus fours, deerstalkers, a gramophone and a plate camera.
The film was not originally intended as a commercial proposition, but following screenings in 1959 at film festivals in San Francisco (where it won the award for best fiction short) and Edinburgh, it was picked up for distribution by British Lion in 1960. It was even nominated for an Academy Award as best short live action film - quite an achievement for a film shot on an amateur basis on such a quick schedule.
The film's lasting legacy, however, was its influence (as part of Milligan's overall body of work) on British comedy in general, and on Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC, 1969-74) in particular. This is evident not only in its surreal humour, but in the way that elements of one routine are threaded through subsequent scenes, transcending the stand-alone sketch form - a tactic subsequently favoured by the Python team.

John Oliver

A man in a top hat looks through a telescope and sees an old woman on her hands and knees scrubbing a field. A hiker arrives and erects a tent. A photographer cautiously approaches, sets up his camera and fires a gun. When the hiker looks out of the tent, his photograph is taken.
The photographer begins to wash his film in a stream. A hunter, carrying a gun and dressed in tweed, a snorkel and flippers, approaches and takes hold of the film. The photographer stands up and hands over his business card. The hunter tears it up and continues on his way.
The photographer hears music. A man is playing the violin while looking through a telescope. He stops playing, gets on a bicycle, cycles over to a music stand, turns over the sheet music, cycles back to his original position, and recommences playing. He looks through the telescope and sees five men approaching carrying a box kite adorned with Union Jacks. After their photograph is taken, one of the men stands in the centre of the kite, while the other four run away while holding a guy rope. When it becomes taught the kite falls apart.
The four men run past a sportsman doing exercises. An artist, accompanied by a model in a crinoline dress and lace bonnet, sets up his easel in front of the sportsman. As the latter performs press-ups, the model sits on his back and the artist begins to paint her.
The hunter walks past the artist and continues towards a man leaning on a fence. The man pulls out a gramophone record and places it on a tree stump. While holding a gramophone horn/stylus mechanism on the record, the man runs around the tree stump to produce music from the disc.
A man and a veiled woman are being positioned near the hiker's tent by the photographer, the latter using the woman and her veil as if looking through a camera. Having positioned the man so he is looking away, the photographer begins to kiss the woman. The man begins to chase the photographer; others join the pursuit.
The sportsman throws a ball and chain, which the hunter shoots. The two begin to argue. The gramophone man arrives and hands the sportsman a large curved dagger. The sportsman and the hunter walk away from each other as if to fight a duel. The hunter fires and the gramophone man falls to the ground.
A man is visible on the horizon. A hand appears in the foreground and beckons him to approach. The figure slowly approaches, encouraged by further gestures. It is the kite man, who on reaching the camera is punched by a gloved hand. The boxing glove is worn by the man in the top hat. He goes through a door into a room, lies on a bed and switches off a bedside lamp.

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