Fish Called Wanda / [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 1.78 x 19.05 x 13.72 cm; 69.45 Grams
- Item model number : FOXS124295BR
- Media Format : AC-3, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, DTS Surround Sound, Import
- Release date : Feb. 7 2012
- Dubbed: : French, Spanish
- Subtitles: : English, Spanish, French
- Studio : MGM (Video & DVD)
- ASIN : B005O64VJQ
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
British gangster George Thomason (Tom Georgeson) and his hapless aide, Ken Pile (Michael Palin), draft a pair of arrogant Americans, grifter Wanda Gerschwitz (Jamie Lee Curtis) and weapons expert Otto West (Kevin Kline), for a massive diamond heist. When the job goes badly, Wanda attempts to seduce George's stuffy lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese), to find out where George hid the diamonds. Meanwhile, Ken repeatedly attempts to kill an elderly woman (Patricia Hayes) who witnessed the robbery.
Top reviews from Canada
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Not surprisingly, Cleese was responsible for the script. Writing his own material was something that came naturally to him, dating back from the David Frost Show to Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. He developed his story with veteran director Charles Crichton, whose resumé included Ealing comedies such as THE LAVENDER HILL MOB and THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT.
Although Crichton hadn't directed a feature film in over twenty years, he still had lots of television credits that kept him far from idle. Cleese wanted him to direct A FISH CALLED WANDA, but Crichton's age -he was 77- gave the insurance company cause for concern. The Python legend agreed to be co-director -at least on paper- to allay their consternation, and then allowed Crichton his directorial freedom once it was time to roll the cameras.
To entice American audiences, Cleese conceived of a pair of Yank jewel thieves, and cast Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline in those parts. He also gave his Python cohort Michael Palin a terrific role too, as Ken, an animal loving crook with a stutter so noticeable that one critic called it the most egregious since Porky Pig.
The movie opens in the London flat of George Thomason, ringleader of a group of thieves planning a jewel heist. He cohabits with his American girlfriend Wanda (Curtis), and his flatmate Ken, who prides himself on his aquarium of tropical fish. Wanda introduces fellow Yank Otto (Kline) as her brother, but who is in reality her lover, and the pair plan to double cross the Brits once the job is done.
After the robbery goes smoothly, the diamonds are kept in a drop safe, with the plan to lay low for at least forty-eight hours. Otto and Wanda place an anonymous call implicating George, but after his arrest, the larcenous duo discover that he moved the loot prior to getting pinched.
With the only person who knows its whereabouts now in custody, Wanda and Otto now have to improvise. She decides the best way to find out is to get friendly with George's barrister Archie Leach (Cleese) by pretending to be a law student studying abroad. It doesn't require too much seductive effort on her part. The straight-laced Archie is stuck in a loveless marriage to a self-centered woman who comes from money and assumes that narcissism goes hand-in-hand with it. With a daughter that slowly seems to be taking after her mother, he's suffocating from the introverted atmosphere.
A major hurdle for Wanda is Otto himself, a doofus who fits to a tee the profile of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. In layman's terms, an IQ-challenged person who thinks they're smarter than they actually are, just like a certain soon-to-be former head of state. Otto likes to quote Nietzsche and trumpet his alleged past as a CIA gun-for-hire, but these are really mechanisms that he employs to hide his insecurity. He's also insanely jealous. And insensitive too, mocking Ken's stuttering at any given opportunity.
The cast is marvelous. Jamie Lee Curtis shows off an unexpected comedy sense, shedding her buxom Scream Queen persona and bringing charm and humor to an otherwise unattractive character. Kevin Kline, known mostly for his dramatic works, also reveals himself to be a comedic revelation as the obnoxious Otto, acting the bejesus out of his part, almost as if his life depended on it. He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his exuberant efforts.
Palin is memorable as the stuttering Ken, especially at the end where he "presses" upon Otto the consequences of being an inconsiderate jerk. He hadn't been this effective since Monty Python. As for Cleese, with a knowing eye for in-jokes he wrote himself a great comedic actor's part in Archie Leach, which was Cary Grant's birth name. I wonder if anyone will create characters with names like Marion Morrison (John Wayne) or Reggie Dwight (Elton John).
A FISH CALLED WANDA was a box office hit on both sides of the Atlantic and, along with Kline's triumph, Cleese's script and Crichton's direction were nominated for Oscars. It remains a top caper comedy that can uplift your spirits on a tough day.
Briefly, the story involves four criminals who steal a fortune in diamonds. One ends up in prison (having been ratted on by two of his not-so-loyal mates); ironically, just prior to his arrest he had secretly taken the jewels and rehidden them. So the film revolves around the attempts of the others to discover the location of the jewels.
The plot is indeed a good one, but what really makes this film exceptional and so hilarious is the colourful cast of characters and the splendid performances of all involved. There simply isn't one weak performance here.
The central character is a beautiful and spirited American woman named Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), the lone female in the gang and the only intelligent one of the lot. Wanda's one weakness, however, is her penchant for hearing foreign languages--it's something that really turns her on! This makes for much hilarity between her and her fellow gangster, Otto (whom Wanda has been trying to pass off as her brother), as Otto rattles off every known Italian food dish, type of cheese, and so on, in his attempts to seduce Wanda. Otto (Kevin Kline), by the way, is a highly paranoid, Nietzsche-reading yet empty-headed, Anglophobic, trigger-happy lunatic who thinks he's an intellectual and enjoys sniffing his armpits. He's a flamboyant personality to say the least, and one which Kline manages to carry off wonderfully--I simply cannot imagine anyone doing a better job. These two are the real powerhouses of the gang.
Then there's poor Ken (Michael Palin (Monty Python)), who's an avid animal lover--a fact which provides the basis for some extremely funny scenes. He's a humorously pathetic character--a little bit on the simple side with the worst stammer ever, and if there's a show-stealer (and I say "if" for they're all so good), for me it's Ken. He's simply hilarious, and the interplay between him and the nasty Otto is simply priceless. (It's a bit like watching a cat relentlessly toying with a poor, helpless little mouse). Lastly, one mustn't forget John Cleese, who portrays Archie, the rather reserved barrister representing George, the incarcerated gang member, and who, I just have to add, has Wanda in a fit of ecstasy (unbeknownst to himself) in one hilarious scene when he starts spouting Russian.
In conclusion, the film (which has a running time of 108 minutes) is definitely a must-see for fans of British comedy or, for that matter, for anyone looking for a thoroughly entertaining not to mention hilarious film. I've seen it a number of times and certainly don't regret purchasing it. It's definitely one to watch and rewatch. And if you've enjoyed the film, by all means check out Fawlty Towers (also co-written by and starring John Cleese and also featuring an abundance of visual humour). You'll not regret it--it's simply one of the funniest shows ever made. And so is this film!
Very highly recommended!
Top reviews from other countries
Memorable scenes include Otto torturing Ken by stuffing hot chips up his nose and eating his pet fish one by one; Archie dancing naked for Wanda and being surprised by the new tenants of the flat they are in; and the final act set in Heathrow airport. It’s fair to say however, that the movie is simply one great scene after another, and with all the cast at the top of their games, this remains a true British comedy classic – despite the musical score and some key cultural shifts, feeling a little dated.