Director: John Cleese, Charles Crichton
Starring: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin
What’s the score? Jewels worth 13 million pounds.
Who’s calling the shots? Wanda, a con woman who will flirt with you, then ruin your life.
Would I rob a bank with her? She doesn’t do anything particularly exceptional during the robbery, but she can turn dudes into babbling bozos at will. So if I was semi-desperate, I’d rob a bank with her as the distraction.
What happens? Monty Python’s John Cleese wrote, directed and stars in the funniest heist movie ever made. In it, George, a wealthy thief, his seductive American girlfriend Wanda (Curtis), a stuttering animal lover, Ken (Palin), and a Nietzsche-reading numbskull, Otto (Kline), steal a load of diamonds. Otto and Wanda double-cross George, but their plans fail as he has moved the diamonds without telling them. In an attempt to find their location, Wanda woos George’s lawyer, Archie (Cleese), a posh Brit who loathes his life and loves Wanda for her free-spiritedness which is a marked contrast to the English’s mortal fear of embarrassment—to paraphrase him. For the rest of the film, everybody basically takes turns lying to each other in the verbal equivalent of those Scooby-Doo scenes set in multi-doored hallways, before Wanda chooses the man she wants to spend her life with. Jamie Lee Curtis slays, John Cleese plays the perfect straight man and Kevin Kline delivers an all-time comedic performance as a delightfully unhinged idiot who can’t stand to be called stupid, for which he won an Oscar. Like a lot of Python, it’s brilliant silliness that’s occasionally interrupted by jaw-droppingly concise observations on the human condition. Like a sweet potato for your brain, it’s both tasty and nutritious.