24 January 2010 | Bunuel1976
THE RISE AND RISE OF MICHAEL RIMMER (Kevin Billington, 1970) **1/2
This British political satire from the Swinging Sixties, which sees an enigmatic efficiency expert effortlessly taking over the lives of those around him – thus paving the way for his own personal success (eventually becoming Prime Minister!) – was co-written by director Billington and star Peter Cook (in what basically amounts to a continuation of his Mephistophelean turn in BEDAZZLED ) with two members of the "Monty Python" gang i.e. Graham Chapman and John Cleese, who also put in small appearances. As is to be expected, the result is all over the place, making for a rather patchy whole – but there are definite bright, often surreal, passages along the way; similarly, the emphasis is often on sex, with leading lady Vanessa Howard (involved in a bit of full-frontal nudity) and Carry On/Hammer starlet Valerie Leon (as a secretary decked-out in provocative low-cut gowns) supplying the requisite eye-candy. The rest of the cast is made up of innumerable character actors of the era: Michael Bates, James Cossins, Graham Crowden (as a Bishop willing to move with the times and omit God entirely from religious teaching!), Roland Culver, Denholm Elliott (as, first, Rimmer's professional competitor, then associate and confidante and, finally, rival for the unrequited attentions of wife Vanessa Howard), Ronald Fraser (as the former incompetent Prime Minister), Julian Glover, Arthur Lowe (as one of Rimmer's various 'victims' eventually driven, disastrously, to make an assassination attempt on his life), Dennis Price, Norman Rossington, etc.; also on hand is celebrated playwright/scriptwriter Harold Pinter (as a TV interviewer) and diminutive, bespectacled comedian Ronnie Corbett. Apart from its smattering of inventive ideas, funny lines and amusing characterization, the film is sustained by flashy visuals and a solid rock score by John Cameron.