Withnail & I (1987)

R   |    |  Comedy, Drama


Withnail & I (1987) Poster

In 1969, two substance-abusing, unemployed actors retreat to the countryside for a holiday that proves disastrous.


7.7/10
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  • Paul McGann in Withnail & I (1987)
  • Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann in Withnail & I (1987)
  • Richard E. Grant in Withnail & I (1987)
  • Paul McGann in Withnail & I (1987)
  • Richard E. Grant in Withnail & I (1987)
  • Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann in Withnail & I (1987)

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14 January 2006 | Theo Robertson
9
| Brilliant Brit Comedy
Strange to believe that WITHNAIL AND I , a film that is regarded as today one of the best British comedies ever made flopped spectacularly on its initial release in 1987 and maybe it's not too easy to see why . In the late 1980s the British film industry was in an absolute mire and the very phrase itself " British film " made a homegrown audience roll its eyes and think of art-house crap directed by Derek Jarman or Peter Greenaway . Any British film no matter the genre or how good it was always got tarred with the same brush in those days .

Years later actor Ralph Brown ( Danny ) was asked " Why is it a good film ? " to which he replied " Because there's no crap bits in it " which simplifying the truth . WITHNAIL AND I is a very rare type of British comedy since it has been developed to its utmost potential . All too often British comedies of the last 20 years feel like they've been rush released before the script has been used to its full potential but not with this comedy classic because nearly every scene couldn't possibly be any funnier . Everyone has their favourite scene like the one in the Irish bar or the tea room or the one with bull but for me the stand out scene has got to be the urine sample down at the police station . It's also interesting to note that it's a movie without any female characters and feels both homo-erotic and laddish at the same time . It also carries an emotional and poignant impact at the end , something all of us can relate to when our best friend finds a new best friend and we become quickly forgotten

All the cast are excellent but Richard E Grant is nothing short of superb and it's probably his performance as much as Bruce Robinson's smart script . You could argue that because Withnail is a camp , self centered , mincing thespian Grant is playing an extension of himself and while this may be true he's certainly enjoyable to watch here . Ironically enough I'd have thought he'd be brilliant as the title character in DOCTOR WHO but it was co-star Paul McGann who got the role in the 1996 American TVM and what a major disappointment he was . As it stands both actors will probably be best remembered for their cracking roles in this movie

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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #119.


Quotes

Withnail: Grab its ring. Keep your bag up. Outvie him.
Isaac Parkin: Hey, show no fear! Just run at it!
Marwood: Well, that can't be sensible, can it, the bastard's about to run at me!
Isaac Parkin: Well, it's randy!
Marwood: Yes, yeah, I know he is!
Withnail: He wants to get down there and have sex with those ...
Marwood: ...


Goofs

Shows EEC hedge rows planted near the motorway, a policy not introduced until the 80s.


Crazy Credits

Paul McGann is credited only as "and I".


Alternate Versions

The original cinema version of this film was shorter than the one that has since been released on video, laserdisc and DVD. Changes include:

  • Marwood's opening voice-over has been redubbed.
  • Marwood's speech about his thumbs having gone weird has been cut. The scene thus goes from the line "I don't feel good" to "Look at my tongue".
  • Withnail's "I'm gonna pull your head off" has been cut.
  • Danny's anecdote about The Coalman has been cut.
  • Some dialogue concerning Withnail's current work and Marwood also being a thespian has been cut out of the scene at Monty's home.
  • The scene of Marwood slipping in the mud and then angrily persuading Withnail to have another look at the shed has been cut.
  • The first part of Withnail and Marwood's conversation with the major, concerning Withnail having been in the Territorials, has been cut. The scene in this version simply dissolves from Withnail and Marwood walking to the pub with Marwood's voice-over to the major bringing up the subject of Jake. Marwood's line about why Withnail lied to the major has understandably also been cut.
  • The word Saveloy has been redubbed to Sausage.


Soundtracks

Film Soundtrack & Original Music Published by Ganga Publishing B.V. Filmtrax plc.

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Comedy | Drama

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