austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Oh, knock-knock on wood, you understood

Further Movies Watched During WiiFit: The Bed Sitting Room. This is a rather daft 1969 British movie featuring Spike Milligan, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Marty Feldman, and a small host of other people aptly described by the cable box as ``absurd''. The premise: several years ago there was a brief but rather shattering little war, and now the population of Britain is this roughly two dozen survivors who wander around London being nearly four percent more eccentrically nutty than normal for Britons.

For example: one line of the Underground is still running in an endless circle, with four passengers --- a mother and father, their daughter, and in another car, a (ugh) commuter. It's powered by the electrical system, one extremely tired man on a bicycle who can't stop for fear of letting down The Nation. A pair of police constables have hooked the burned-out hulk of their car to a tethered hot air balloon so they can follow around a handful of survivors exhorting them to keep moving! keep moving! Lest they present a stationary target for whoever the war was with. And then there's Lord Fortnum, who rather strongly believes that the mutations left over from the war are turning him into a bed sitting room. He is correct. There's also a woman believing she's becoming a chest of drawers, and a man with a bird problem.

The movie spends a while establishing all these characters and setting them in motion so they can intersect in odd, rambling ways. There's a healthy amount of visual humour --- for example, the man from The BBC coming around with an empty TV frame and just enough of a suit that when he puts the TV frame over his head he looks like a respectable news anchor reading the last news --- and the general amiable drifting loopiness make it probably the most pleasant postapocalyptic society I've ever seen. This does mean that it punches hard when it does get a bit serious about being a survivor among all the ruins being horrible; but those interludes are brief and relieved by discovering that the hit-someone-in-the-face-with-a-pie telephone service is still running, and there's a man who's been left, unclaimed, in the baggage check at the Baker Street station for three or maybe four years.

Wikipedia tells me this began as a play, and I can kind of visualize how it might be staged. I'm not sure that I can point to any specific moments or even quotes that are funny ripped from context, but the effect is this accumulation of weirdly amusing until it's hilarious from simple ... what else is there to do but laugh? Besides sing the new national anthem, God Save Mrs Ethel Shroake of 393A High Street, Leytonstone (who was closest in succession to the throne, being the Queen's former charwoman; I'm not sure if that's closest genealogically or if she was closest to Buckingham Palace when it was destroyed).

It's the sort of film where the cast is listed in order of height and it doesn't try beating you over the head with the silliness of doing that.

Trivia: In the Graham Riot of 1837, Boston bakers dumped whole-grain flour over people waiting to hear Sylvester Graham lecture on the benefits of fresh air, exercise, eating bran, and meatless and alcohol-free meals. Source: The Genie in the Bottle, Joe Schwarcz.

Currently Reading: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880 - 1964, William Manchester.


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