Monty Python Thread

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Monty Python Thread

Post: # 4594Post Garrett Gilchrist
Tue May 06, 2014 1:33 pm ... d869565872

The reissued "Monty Python Sings" has a few extra tracks.

The Silly Walk Song, The Naval Medley, Rudyard Kipling, Nudge Rap / Blackmail, Rainy Day In Berlin, and Lousy Song.

The entire first Monty Python's Flying Circus album also seems to be included.

"Rudyard Kipling" and "Rainy Day in Berlin" are 1980 Contractual Obligation Album outtakes which appeared on the bootlegged outtake album "Hastily Cobbled Together For a Fast Buck." That album is still unreleased, despite an 80-minute extended version being prepped for CD release a few years back. Which makes this reissue another missed opportunity. Oh well.

"The Silly Walk Song" is something new by Eric, and it's awful. "Lousy Song" is a Contractual Obligation outtake, with Eric (as a producer) playing back a song he's sung, with Graham (as another producer) and Eric discussing how terrible it is - vague, improvised banter here. This is yet more evidence that the Contractual Obligation album was loosely structured around the Pythons writing purposely terrible songs, with Eric and Graham playing studio producers recording advertisements. Eric and Graham hosted the Life of Brian album in similar fashion. There's clearly some sort of running structure to the Contractual Obligation material as recorded, which isn't obvious in the released version.

• 2CD and 1CD versions featuring six bonus tracks, all previously unreleased – including three new songs specially recorded by Eric Idle and three never before released songs from the Python archive – and features remixed cover art by Terry Gilliam.

• Deluxe 2CD version additionally features their 1970 debut LP: the entire Flying Circus live performance album and is housed in eight panel digipack featuring new artwork designed by Terry Gilliam and a double-sided, 4-panel poster booklet.

• Both 1CD and 2CD versions will include a 32-page booklet featuring lyrics plus notes by Robert Ross from new interviews with the Pythons.


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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Monty Python Thread

Post: # 4597Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed May 07, 2014 1:45 am

The "Rubbish" poster and packaging is ruined by a terrible font - shockingly so - it'd be good otherwise. Nice to see all the albums compiled together, as ever, on CD and vinyl, with "Tiny Black Round Thing" included. The CD versions are all much extended with bonus tracks, probably as released previously. And in appropriate-looking packaging apart from that font!

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Re: Monty Python Thread

Post: # 4737Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed May 28, 2014 3:46 pm

SOTCAA writes:
Monty Python in New Musical Express, 25th May 1974, pages 26-27, 30-31

[The issue which included the free Tiny Black Round Thing
flexi-disc. Front cover featured a giant DP Gumby stomping around
London with the Post Office Tower tumbling. Word bubbles emanate
from this and other buildings saying 'Help!'; 'Psst Wanna score'; 'My
brain hurts' and 'LEMON CURRY?'

Under the disc it reads:]

The piece
of cheap plastic
you have just prized
delicately away from this
page (what do you mean, you've torn
it – dolt!) comes to you ABSOLUTELY FREE
from NME, D.P. Gumby, Charisma Records and those
blokes who recorded this stuff during their run at the Theatre
Royal, Drury Lane – a full albumsworth of which will shortly be
released on the Charisma label. If you're the kind of bone idle
hippie who hangs around dole queues and can't screw enough
out of social assistance for a decent player, you may
need to use some kind of weight to ensure your flexi-disc
doesn't slip under the stylus. A bust of Galileo is
ideal for this purpose. Failing this, a slab of
con... ...2p piece has been
k... ...well (what do you
...d you 2p 'til

[Unfortunately, the sticky bit that the flexi was stuck to
the page with covers up most of the text at the bottom.]

[Photos accompanying the main article include: a picture of
the knights laughing between takes; a grid featuring nine faces
from the film (Jones, Chapman, Gilliam, Innes, Palin, Cleese,
Mark Forstater, Idle, and Andrew Tyler, "freelance journalist
of this parish"); the two Terrys directing; Cleese playing
football in full Lancelot gear; Idle and Innes with a guitar; and
the knights marching in long shot. Plus, a short script extract
for the Black Knight scene, entitled "A Small Piece Of Script".
When the article continues a few pages later the title reads
"Consumer's Guide to PEARL CARR and TEDDY
JOHNSON Part Six (Some more of what you were reading
on p.27)"]


And welcome to Page Twentysix of this week's credibility-destroying issue. Next week we'll be coming over all serious again and attempting to rebuild our image as a Legitimate Musical Journal - but for now...let's talk about bottoms. Better still relax, sit back, and enjoy a good story about MONTY PYTHON making a film in Scotland. It's very well-written by a jolly nice journalist we know, and the whole thing's quite a treat and exceptionally good value, if a bit runny...



The Dunblane Hydro bestrides a cemented hillock just five miles across freeway and dale.

In the spring months it's entirely encircled by thickets of National Buses from English mining towns, most of its residents being grey, wizened ladies with dry, furry hair and beige stockings who, because there's football on the telly, sit drawing breath in the hotel lounge.

It's an enormous place, with all the festering appeal of St. Pancras at sunset. Yet the Hydro serves as a kind of engine-room for the local community.

In the basement is the town's legendary masseuse, a brawny, pink-skinned woman with trucker's thighs and a smile of unparalleled radiance. This woman does things with the back muscles that you wouldn't believe; rolling and kneading them between her fingers, smacking and tugging and inducing all manner of prurient notions the likes of which become clear the moment you're back on your feet.

It's just the thing for a couple of London boys who got waylaid after a man concert in Glasgow and would up searching for The Holy Grail (containing droplets of blood from Our Lord) with several dozen other looneys and imbeciles.

This last turns out to be the latest, most outlandish, and freeloading scheme of Monty Python's Flying Circus, supported with cash from the likes of Zeppelin, Floyd, Charisma and Island, and a West End mogul called Michael White. And it's as repellent as anything they've attempted before, featuring star and bit acts being constantly harangued with sheep excrement, mattresses, mediaeval hangnail and a glove-puppet rabbit that bites the heads off knights and bloodies their jowls.

"A compellingly turgid melodrama," according to NME's film critic.

"A cheap mediaeval extravaganza... makes Ben Hur look like an epic," maintains Python.

So here we are in Blundane with a city-charged adrenaline power-pack tippling over the edge and pretty soon you discover there's no way of meshing with local opinion in this kind of condition. Where the devil are the Python crew? They were supposed to be mere miles away in Doune, filming in the local castle.

Bawn, of Python (Monty) Films Ltd., says they're dragging behind schedule slightly and plan one more day on a Killin mountainside, some 50 or 60 miles away.

There's a prop truck leaving from the Doune Woodside 6.30 the following morning and Tim Read of U.A. and I are aboard. We're driven by a jolly sod called Mick, whose friends are also called Mick. Or sometimes Keith.

Mick says he's ready for anything and although he's not sure about progress to date he's under the impression the crew, including Python's two Terrys (Gilliam and Jones), have been in Scotland a couple of weeks lining up background shots and shooting random "fill" scenes.

"Bloody nerve of these people," says Mick. "I gets up this morning at six-a-bloody-clock and they tell me the Pythons have arrived and my room is wanted for one of them, so now I've got to look for another hotel. 'Ere I am six-a-bloody-clock in the morning, packing up my gear and trying to get this lot out to the set gurgle arrgh."

In Mick's rentatruck we burrow through the lumpy Perthshire countryside and, a little after eight, arrive at a Killin farmhouse where Arthur's bloodstained knights are working through a breakfast fry-up; faces concealed by runny beards and scrambled eggs.

We join minstrel-knight Neil Innes for one more cup of coffee and a cigarette, and a man in a sagging roll-neck sweater runs over asking Tim and I, "How would you boys like to be pages today?"

It transpires that Python crew-members have been calling on locals all week, dragging them away from their loved ones and getting them to perform perverse mediaeval acts in front of a specially-imported American camera that breaks apart whenever the camera wind drops and the sun peeps out from behind the clouds.

It's a tight budget. Somewhere in the region of £200,000. Which is something like half the figure required to do a relaxed job. The crew are all toiling for record-low wages. Extras who utter less than 13 words are rewarded with £2 a day, and Python people - each of them playing a handful of roles - are reported to be working for zero... contenting themselves with promise of lucrative royalties and even more fame.

With Neil at the wheel we motor a couple of miles to the location, set steep on the side of a hill.

Deep inside a ravine is a muddy cave wherein is said to dwell the fugitive rabbit; paws of a panther and steely teeth that can divorce a man from his head with a single gulp.

This morning King Arthur (the lovely Graham Chapman) and his knights plan to exorcise the truculent beast who, alone, bards the way to The Holy Grail and a satisfactory conclusion to the film.

John Cleese has persuaded his frame into a cleft on a hillock where he reads a paperback in full ceremonial gear. Chapman, with what looks to be a genuine clump of facial hair, is an enthralling Arthur-cum-Francis-of-Asinine in majestical robes and rest-easy bootees.

Hello Arthur.

"Hello yourself!"

So what's going on, already?

Graham as Arthur and Arthur as Graham are almost melancholy this morning. Alert and full of bodyheat yet not the disgusting looney you'd half anticipated... not that we didn't always know those antics were just for the television cameras and that no-one's personal habits could be that all-round depraved.

Cleese put his tabard on it the next day at Doune when he said darkly: "It's the enthusiastic ones. The ones, when you're walking along the street just quietly going to buy a newspaper, who lean out of their vans and shout 'Ere Monty, give us one of yer funny walks. At the same time about 40 other people turn around and start nudging each other: 'Oh look it's that newsreader from ITV.' "That can be very embarrassing. But 90 per cent of the people are very nice. If they want to say something they come up to you and say it quietly."

"And then the people that were of Antioch brought forward the grenade that it might be blessed. And St. Attila raised it on high..."

The Holy Handgrenade, a glittering org not unlike the one used by Queen Majesty for the Coronation, is the only way out of their troubles.

To invoke its awesome power Arthur has to read from the Book Of Armaments, housed in a broken-down cart guarded by Brother Maynard and his rabid monks and containing the fingernails and ossified kneebones of dead saints.

"...three shall be the number thou shalt count and the number of the counting shall be three. Four thou shalt not count. Neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out."

Michael Palin, crazed cyclist and laundromat confidante to French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, reads the lines in a squealing falsetto, surrounded by his brother knights, one of whom played by Eric Idle, is soiling his armour.

"That's Sir Robin," says Chapman. "He's not in the original story, mind you, but we decided to introduce him. He hangs to the back a good deal and runs away very quickly.

"Then there's Bedevere. He's quite strange. Another dimension. That's Terry Jones. Neil Innes is playing Gawaine and Terry Gilliam is playing the parts that need a lot of make-up and are very uncomfortable because he's the only one who'll do that sort of thing. And John is Lancelot."

Python animator Terry Gilliam and housewife-impersonator Terry Jones have been elected to direct the epic. Jones the Serious and Gilliam the Good-Natured goof with Quinn the Eskimo features and a boundless capacity to accommodate Eric Idle's rancid put-downs.

Gilliam laughs madly and pretends the whole thing's as easy as popping a blackhead, but the gleeful profile drops at the day's end and he begins to resemble a worried man. Just like Terry Jones in fact, who has no intention of masking his anguish.

"The first shot of the film," says Chapman, "we did in Glencoe, quite high up on the side of a mountain. We were going through a rather involved dialogue scene about three or four minutes long, when the camera broke down after 15 seconds - the first shot of the entire film! They had to cut it, and we had to wait around while they tried to get another camera, and for three days we had to use cameras not equipped for sound. It means dubbing on dialogue for the first three days' work which is a bit awkward."

It's not as winky as it sounds, mind you.

There's an almost lurid attention to detail and period etiquette. Costumes are by Royal Shakespeare Co Ltd., Stratford, and by Nathans of Drury Lane. And most scenes are shot (and re-shot) with a smokey Canterbury Tales aroma accomplished by use of a pungent incense expelled from hand-operated bellows.

"How do you like the smoke?" a props man asks assistant-director Gerry Harrison.

"All right, was it?"

"Yes. It was very good."

"There's a battle scene," says Graham, "where we didn't have as many extras as we would have liked but it looks like a lot on the screen. We're having about 200 involved at one point and we're also having numerous numbers of extremely pretty ladies in one particular scene, which I'm not in, actually. But then that doesn't matter because I'm a poof."

Aside from this one carnal feast it's the usual appalling Python violence, with excessive amounts of tearing and shredding of flesh. Knights are continually bombarded with dead cattle and lunch a lot on mixtures of burnt sheep-bones and animal-droppings.

Worse than the Peckinpah tennis-match sketch, says Chapman.

"Yesterday Neil had his head bitten off by the rabbit. That was fairly horrifying. And in the final sequence there's a bit where Arthur gets lots of human droppings thrown all over him."

Why would anybody want to do a thing like thing?

"It's the French, you see. They're taunting him. Excuse me I have to go and do a bit now."

And so have Tim and I; togged up four inches thick in knobbly tights, tops, and belts that allow our uniforms to swill around our persons. We're supposed to look cool and uninterested while Chapman, Cleese, Palin, Jones and Idle dither with the Holy Hand-grenade.

"Would it help to confuse it if we ran away more?" Sir Robin enquires.

"Shut up and change your armour," replies the unhelpful King Arthur.

"Have you heard about the masseuse at the Dunblane Hydro?" I ask Eric Idle during a break in shooting, knowing full well Lone Eric can't stand being interviewed, but hoping he's hot for Scottish women with thick thighs.

"That's my beard you're wearing," says Idle, astonished that a music writer should have the fall to cower alongside him in the costume he'd been wearing just one day before.

"That's a very good imitation of me," he finally decides.

Thanks very much... I know you don't like doing interviews, but how about...

"Careful with that beard, won't you? I have to wear it tomorrow."

Sure thing, Eric... I know you don't like doing interviews, but how about if I kind of creep up on you when you're least expecting it - and see what your reaction is then?

A few minutes later I approach Idle again with my tape-recorder just when he's most expecting it.

"Interviews are so boring," he confirms. "People you expect to be interesting, just go winding on and on, and the whole procedure's such a waste of time."

Aw common, Eric. We could make music, you and me.

"The Ellsberg interview in Rolling Stone was a worthwhile read because it divulged all sorts of facts that wouldn't otherwise be available. But that's an exception."

"Why don't you write down some questions on a piece of paper and Mike Palin and I will answer them over lunch?"

Mid-morning snack is served from bins and pails.

Cold, congealed scrambled eggs, sweating sausages, soiled rolls. Lunch comes off the back of the lorry, down the hill and quarter of a mile along the road. Rodent stew, sticky pie, and squash.

But first, knights and pages gather on a hill-ledge for a disappearing-into-the-skyline shot; knights whinnying on imaginary horses, pages following in profile making horse-noises with coconut shells.

A man from the local press has arrived with camera pack. A rust-haired clown in flappy check jacket and cord trousers.

"A member of the fascist press to ask inane questions," says Idle. "I want to tell him a lie. What can I tell him?"

"Tell him his hair looks nice," says Chapman.

The camera goes gung ho again and someone remarks how this filming business is such a disaster.

"It's a disaster that frankly parallels the Boer War, although the machinery these days isn't quite advanced." says Cleese.

"It's not as bad as a famine," Palin observes.

It's very avant-garde, I remark (but I don't think anyone heard).

Notes from a Perthshire film set: the grass is green and pointed. The clouds are wavy and grey. My armour doesn't fit very good. But here are the questions anyway.

How tall are you?
What's your favourite colour?
What is the most boring thing you've ever done?
Are you scared of rabbits?
Are you scared?
Do you like making films?
What do you think of echoes?
What do you think of echoes?

A hut has been constructed on a lull on the hillside. A sheep-dung stew is brewing by an open fire. In the dirt yard outside a chicken scrambles around, one leg pegged to the ground by a length of string. Terry Gilliam and Suko Forstater, whimsical oriental wife of producer Mark Forstater, stare hazily at the camera, rolling from foot to foot.

There's no apparent logic to these events, but they complete a day's shooting and the crew load up for the trek back to the Woodside.

The most brain-scarring Python story of all time involves not a droplet of excrement, not so much as one single sliver of animal remains. It concerns the usually moderate Tony Smith, promoter of Python's recent Canadian tour.

The tour, across the breadth of the country, had been the usual forlorn business of drab changing rooms, drab hotels and more than a comfortable amount of zigzagging from town to town.

One night most of the crew were gathered blandly in a hotel room, examining each other's knuckles, when Tony Smith, in a moment of uncharacteristic frenzy, invited the boys to get themselves together and smash the room into tiny pieces.

"G'won," said Smith. "I'll pay the bill in the morning."

But the Pythons, probably unaware of famous rock 'n' roll precedents for this kind of nonsense, were satisfied to peel off little bits of wallpaper while Smith went on a rampage hurling furniture across the room and breaking toothbrushes in half.

"That's how boring it could all get," says Idle.

Idle and Innes, companions since the days of "Do Not Adjust Your Set", a BBC innovation featuring the eccentric talents of Bonzo Dog, are hunched together on a bench outside the Woodside, guzzling beer and trying to remember chords to Beatle songs.

The two Terrys are making film-talk over dinner.

Palin and Cleese are out eating expensive fish and Graham Chapman is trying to locate the male dancers from London who, tomorrow, are lined up for a mental banquet hall routine.

Idle's the insufferable pub bore; the disgusting mind behind the Australian wine sketch; performer and co-writer with Cleese of that astonishing holiday sketch featuring bandy-legged wop waiters and a fat bloated tart with her hair Brylcreemed down and a big arse presenting Flamenco for foreigners.

A brilliantly agile mind is Idle, whose sketches are tight as a fist and whose attitude to reporters is generally don't - touch - me - I'm - an - artist. A scrupulously moral individual who, according to producer Forstater, "tries to be temperamental, but it's just a put-on."

Lone Idle has more of a cheroot-chomping rock 'n' roll mentality than his Python brethren. While the others arrange themselves in pairs (Chapman/Cleese, Jones/Palin), Idle chooses to write solo.

He can razzle you with wit and brotherly vibes - and just as quickly rip off your head with one mental chomp.

Tonight it's Eric the Affable, recounting strange Python stories and winding down and out on connected and unconnected subjects. He'd probably want the whole thing forgotten, because it's just a moment in time, innit - and, besides, he's no Ellsberg with evidence of White House corruption or inside fax on breaches of political decorum up in the North Country.

But I'm no elk. And this is what I remember. Remember what you can, says Eric. OK. This is what I remember.

I can't remember anything.

Oh yes. I remember. Eric Idle's dentist wrote "An Englishman Needs Time" (no, really) and Joey Bishop, cringeing stand-in on Johnny Carson's "Tonight" show, wrote Python off completely after they'd been hired for a nationwide spot.

"Here's an act from Britain," said Bishop. "I'm told they're funny. I don't really understand what they're supposed to be doing, but here they are anyway. See what you make of them."

Python came on, performed one of their more intolerable sketches, and were greeted by the kind of ego-smashing audience inactivity that performers will travel the world for.

"I've never see so many jaws drop at once," says Idle.

Canada, she was altogether more harmonious, probably because Canadians had previously been softened up by the TV shows. Crowds came out to greet the team at airports and Idle remembers peering into the stalls one night and seeing an entire row dressed as a caterpillar.

But why, you might wonder, hadn't an aberrant nation like the United States picked up on the Pythons? There were precedents, in a minor kind of way, in the shape of Firesign Theatre and the Early "Laugh Ins", after all.

The answer is as basic as vomit, masturbation and all the other naughty phenomena American TV-programmers find unnerving. Even a hardy subject like birth-control had to be expunged from a sketch the Pythons performed for "Midnight (the-show-that-knows-where-its-at) Special". But then don't we remember the BBC slicing up a sketch involving a man whose hobbies were strangling dogs and masturbating?

Masturbation is right out, said the BBC. Strangling dogs is cool. But no wanking. And no wanking while you're strangling that dog. Rip-off dept: Dean Martin lifted an entire segment from the Python's How To Be Invisible sketch, stitched it into the opening of one of his shows, and never said so much as a thank you, kiss my State Of The Union Address. Lampoon also ripped off a Python sketch to close their Broadway Show and, when pressed by slim British lawyers, coughed up £70 by way of compensation.

Idle on the subject of America, and especially its handsome, mixed-up president, is a treat:

"I am not lying. I have never lied. That last lie I told is not a lie. I have no knowledge of Watergate. I have no knowledge of my lovely wife Pat or my lovely daughter Tricia or of John Erlichman or Bob Haldeman. I have no knowledge of the White House. I have no knowledge of Richard Nixon.

"Richard Nixon. This Is Your Life. Do you remember this telephone conversation with John Erlichman? BEEEEEEEEEEEZ. And this one with John Dean: WHIIIIIIIAAARRRRP."

Idle's acting a complete fool, falling from his chair and rolling dangerously close to the fire. Innes and the rest of us are soiling ourselves.

"Put that tape recorder away," says Idle. "It's just going to ruin things." Screw you, Idle.

He probably dreads the thought of being boring in print; of not having control over the outcome.

Python humour, he says, is an organic evolution of six minds apprenticed in university revue (with Gilliam providing moving pictures of the spirit of America), through BBC shows like the "Frost Report", "Marty Feldman", "Do Not Adjust Your Set" and "At Last The 1948 Show".

Offstage, they can be eminently worried and straight-talking people. Eminently worried by talk of Python being Last Year's Thing and how they don't stand a chance without Cleese, who plans to lope off after filming's through to make industrial movies on methods of dealing with angry customers and how you can have a real nice time of it in your tedious 9-to-5 job riveted to the hat-bands counter.

By way of revelation, Idle says he had a bit of a scare before the first Python series went out when he saw Spike Milligan's "Q.5".

"It was more or less what we already had in mind for ourselves," he says.

Gilliam shows up and, in a painfully tactful way, tried to convince Idle he'd best get his hair cut and fall into line with the others. Idle not only refuses outright, he carves Gilliam up into tiny particles that blow across the hotel lounge and return moments later in a more relaxed, off-duty format - just as Palin and Cleese return from their fish supper.

The Woman's Institute committee and dance rooms have been rented by Python the following day as changing-quarters. It's full of old men coughing and struggling into mediaeval pantyhose and a sour make-up girl who keeps slipping me dirty looks.

The national press are due today and so are hordes of kids who've bunked off school to watch Python filming in Doune Castle. The Dancing Knights scene - the day's main action - is more obsessive lunacy in which seven fancy men from London cavort on table tops, kicking bowls of vegetables and sheep-bones the length of the banqueting area.

As they dance, ducks and chickens are tossed into the maelstrom, while we pages are supposed to be retrieving the flattened vegetables in a disgruntled kind of way. But the dancing knights keep knocking us to the ground with mad leaps and pirouettes. Ducks are screaming, chickens are getting caught up in the lights, and one poor canard gets so scared and wounded it starts shivering, and tears roll down its beak.

Terry Jones finally disqualifies the animal from further hardship after the dancers have gathered round to coo and ahhh and tickle its throat. A restless chicken, meanwhile, is being hypnotised by a crew-member with some deft strokes between the wings. The scene, says Gilliam, will end with a Busby Berkley shield arrangement, out of the centre of which Neil Innes pops up and sings "I have to push my pramalot" (to rhyme with Camelot).

It's one of those days where everything's a Python. Cleese and Idle, in shrink-proof chainmail, are kicking a ball around the yard, chased by national press photographers. Elsewhere kids are wandering loose, laughing at the funny men in their silly clothes.

"Let's be serious," says Palin. "No jokes."

OK, Michael. No jokes. How do you like filming?

"I enjoy it, thank you. When you get into the meaty bits, that is. But you're invariably walking around with helmets on your head which don't come high enough so you're not looking through the eye holes you're looking through the mouth holes, tramping across rather sharp granite terrain which isn't very pleasant.

"But if it looks good it doesn't really matter, and we were all very encouraged by the first rushes. I mean it would be terrible if the film looked bad as well as being uncomfortable to do."

What have you been doing since the last series?

"Well, we've been working on the film quite a lot and in the last three or four months most of our time has gone into the stage shows in Canada and Drury Lane. It was difficult to write during that period, but Terry and I have got together a kind of Christmas book for kids."

A gentle thing, is it?

"No, very violent. Very, very violent. Dreadful. For very young kiddies. Really violent ones."

I see.

I'm interested by those ever so sharp parodies, like the one you do on '19' magazine in the new book, for instance. How much involvement with subject matter does that demand?

"Oh yes, Eric reads them every week; '19', 'Country Life', 'Health And Efficiency'. You name it, he takes it. I don't know much about that. It was Eric's piece."

Whose was the Peckinpah Film night sketch? The one with those deadly rackets and balls.

"John's and Graham's. You're talking to the wrong bloke, aren't you?"

How about the cross-country cyclist with the Politburo cabaret and the guy who wakes up in the Russian cell and finds it wasn't a dream after all?

"Yes. It wasn't written for Python originally. It was written by Terry and I just as a half-hour to do sometime. Then we were short of a show and people read the script and it formed the basis. I think the first 15 minutes or so were ours, and then it got rewritten and people put in ideas."

The central character was quite brilliant, I thought.

"What? That silly man? I thought it was a bit over the top, actually. I was a bit sick of it the second time. It was rather painful to do because I had a saddle that was too high and we were unable, for some reason, to get a spanner in Jersey. So we couldn't adjust it. So I couldn't put both feet on the ground when we were resting."

Those crash-scenes looked fairly diabolical.

"Can you imagine? A camera at the other end of the field about 100 yards away. 'Off you go... fall off!!!'

"You crash through the verge, dislocate your shoulder, break a few ribs, and he says 'No, no, no, you've got to fall off earlier than that, silly'."

You were damaged, were you?

"Mentally... mentally. I've damaged myself so much, damn you Python. Err, no. We do all our stunts. I think all of us at one time have jumped into a marsh or thrown ourselves into a river.

"I think one of the things I was most apprehensive about was when we did the fish-slapping dance. Which is a silly bit where I dance and hit John with a couple of small herrings. At the end of the dance he picks up a huge pike and knocks me into the river.

"We did it at Teddington Lock which was a ten-foot drop. But by that time it was all set up and you've just got to carry on. It looked much better actually, because it was such a big fall. And you get a free brandy when you're done."

Michael reads New Musical Express and he finds it "...interesting".

"The mentality of your readers is about the same as ours, I would say. Yes. I do read it quite a lot now. There seem to be many more articles of a general nature which I quite enjoy."

Most people think you're mad. Does this worry you or do you feel safe inside the Python set-up?

"Yes. Basically, there are five or six of us putting it together, all tending to share the same ideas. The collective thing helps to give us more of a sense of security and gives the show more strength."

Is it difficult selling the BBC your warped visions or did the script-writing background make it easy?

"Even with the BBC background I found it difficult to sell it to them. They were reluctant. They didn't quite know about the show... they like to know what things are about.

"They like to know what you're going to be doing and when you're going to have a music break. How many sketches you're going to do and do you want a guest artist. So we say we don't know. No, we don't want a guest artist... 'Well do you want some music somewhere?'... No... 'Well, what are you going to do? Just sketches?'... Well, we've got these ideas, you see..."

Python, minus Cleese, bombards the screen again in November. That might be tough going. Do you have any ideas yet? (This isn't the BBC speaking, is it?)

"I don't know." (Grin.) "All suggestions gratefully accepted, sent to Michael Palin, c/o NME."

The fluid delicacy of Cleese the Footballer is a sight to see.

Like a spring-loaded rhubarb, he ghosts through castle courtyards leaving the opposition in tangled knots, crossing low balls for one of the Doune Boys to hammer shots between a pair of shields.

Palin serves as a wild minefield sweeper, rushing around a lot and getting very red. Neil Innes is Python's unharried goalie and Idle a vigorous full-back who sometimes cuts into the attack.

But it's Cleese who earns the crowd's pleasure. And their jeers.

He has this habit, you see, of folding to the ground when he's got just the goalie to beat. It's an involved, hypnotising event at Cleese comes down. Kind of like the time-lapse footage they show on "Film Night". But the man has no shame and he's soon back on his feet to make a shambles of the opposition with his superhuman swagger.

The game over, we fall into a sweaty, fermenting heap by a castle wall. Michael Palin idles through the Sunday Times, Eric Idle palins though John Cleese, though Graham Chapman isn't here because he's not wanted for shooting today. A pretty little girl with no teeth shuffles over to Palin and asks shyly for his autograph. She's followed by a couple of firm-breasted schoolgirls who can't make out Palin's signature.

"Whatsit say?" they ask each other.

"Michael Idle," says Palin.

The girls make the rounds with pencil and pad, and wind up with names like Alf Ramsey, Bill Shankly and Johnny Mathis.

"We took a day off school specially," say the girls.

Their accents are a dense as a Highland pony yet, strangely enough, one's from Berlin - daughter of an RSM - and the other from Plymouth.

"What do you think of Scotland?" they ask.

"It will be very nice when it's finished," says Idle.

Over there is Mark Forstater, Python's producer in the realm of feature-films.

"I was personally not very pleased with the first film and they weren't very pleased themselves. When they began preparing this one they asked my help in getting it together to help raise some money. They all have lots of potential, you see, but not much direction."

The script, says Forstater, is as brilliant as anything they've done.

"John Horton, the Special Effects man at the BBC, read it and said it was the best thing he'd seen in five years."

Forstater on the Pythons one at a time:

"John is basically a lazy person and that's the reason he's leaving the show, John enjoys his leisure, he'll tell you that. But when John works he works fantastically hard. He'd always the first to learn his lines."

Eric we already know to be making hopeless attempts at being temperamental.

"Terry Jones can be temperamental but he soon forgets. Terry Gilliam gets annoyed by things, but he's so bubbly it's soon behind him. Graham and Michael are genuinely easygoing."

(Chapman is genuinely mad, says Palin. "I had a hotel room next to him on tour and he was up half the night screaming 'Betty Marsden. Betty Mardsen'. And he talks to letter boxes.")

Forstater is quite small.

John Cleese, by contrast, is quite tall. Cleese, the People's Choice, is at least as tall as anyone on the set.

Cleese is the People's Choice not only because he's tall and funny, but because he's the ogre of headmasterdom. The prancing, screaming, budgie-beating head boy gone mad. So mad, he can hardly be a real worry any more.

But is he basically a serious person?

"I think we all are, aren't we?"

Is it hard being serious?

"I find it much harder if they expect me to be funny. I find I'm often much more serious in my private life, because when you've spent eight hours trying to think of funny things it's often quite nice to give it a rest.

"There used to be a certain feeling of obligation. It doesn't happen so much now."

Eric was saying you write very precisely and methodically, rather than spilling out.

"Yes. I spill out at the 'idea' stage and sometimes stuff goes down very fast on paper - usually when it's something you've been ploughing along with for two weeks.

"I wrote a half-hour with my wife quite recently and, when we got to the final parts, they were going down on paper almost as fast as we could think of them. We'd been thinking abut them so long, you see. But it's quite right. I use a much more measured and slow style than the others."

A lot of Python humour seems to hark back to your university days. What were they like?

"Central to it all was the Footlights Club, which I found to be the easiest and most enjoyable company in Cambridge. Three or four times a term at these smoke concerts, as we used to call them, you got up on the stage and had the chance to try things and, of course, it didn't matter if you died. And this is why I think so much comedy is coming out of the universities these days." Who were your contemporary loonies at Cambridge?

"Well, of this lot, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden.

"It was always more difficult at Oxford, because they didn't have a clubroom, they had to create their own atmosphere and find places to meet. But they produced an interesting lot, going back to Bennett and Miller from about 15 years ago and, virtually contemporaneous with our lot, they had a very good selection of whom Mike and Terry, I suppose, are the best known." You're probably the best-known Python of all. Do you know why?

"This is very simple to explain. It's just that I'd done two years of Frosts and 'The 1946 Show' beforehand.

"I also refuse to wear moustaches and beards and that's a great help. I mean that quite seriously. Somebody like Michael is turning in marvellous performances the whole time. He's a superb performer, but is very frequently unrecognised because he's done four brilliant performances in four different disguises and no one realises it's the same person.

"Michael was the assistant in the pet-shop sketch. He was the leading cardinal in the Spanish Inquisition thing. But we always have a joke with Mike that he can't act without a moustache. He doesn't know what to do. He's got this great desire to disguise himself and acquire facial hair, which I find most uncomfortable."

Are you sure you won't change your mind and stay?

"It's a rude thing to say, but the truth is I'm bored.

"I've been doing two-minute sketches on television for eight years and I'm lucky enough to be able to do different things. You've got more fluidity in this business than if I was working in a car factory and that's how I like to be.

"But I think the others are going to have a bit of a problem coming up with something new, because a lot of people thought the third series wasn't as good as the first two, and I think the answer is that it probably was as good, but people are now used to it.

There isn't that initial impact and I fail to see how you can keep that impact sustaining."

So let that be a warning to you all.

Right about now we wind down the windows, apply the brakes and let it be known that the whole damn bus is cheering because Python And The Holy Grail is no rinky Carry On Gooning effort.

All over the set there are people with artistic wrists, thin hips and the kind of "that was lousy - do it again" mentality that should transform The Grail into the cheap mediaeval extravaganza Python have been straining for so earnestly over the past 18 months. Neil Innes has already got together the bones of an elaborate film-score, parts of it involving strange figure-eight modes and synthesised cellos. He played small bits of it in the Woman's Institute changing room, and bracing it was too. But a make-up girl came along and told him to shut up.

"I'm sorry, but I'm trying to work in there."

Then she came back again and said how sorry she was and please carry on with your tunes.

Shut-up yourself, I say.

And you can shut-up too. (Is that the end? - Ed).

Hey, that's pretty heavy.

(Pause 5 secs, holding shot then mix thru to blatant commercial.)

And you can hear MONTY PYTHON'S zany, madcap humour on the following records which Tony Stratton-Smith begged us to mention:

"Monty Python's Flying Circus" (BBC Records REB 73)
"Another Monty Python Record" (Charisma CAS 1049)
"Monty Python's Previous Record (Charisma CAS 1063)
"Matching Tie And Handkerchief (Charisma CAS 1080)

[On page 30, alongside the article, there is a genuine advert
for 19 magazine which proves what an accurate send-up
the Pythons did in Brand New Monty Python Bok

[When the article was reprinted in the 'New Musical Express:
Greatest Hits' annual in 1975, it had this different intro:]



[The screenplay extract was missing, as was the ad for the
LPs at the end. The photos were all gone too except for the
one of "King Arthur and the boys on the march" (albeit
cropped so as to miss out the final few marchers) and another,
not printed with the NME article, of the Knights with a boom
mike above their heads (captioned "Attacked by a modern day

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Monty Python Thread

Post: # 4828Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sat Jun 07, 2014 12:31 pm

Jonathan Sloman writes:
Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl wasn't recorded on videotape in the traditional manner - it was shot in a process called ImageVision. ImageVision was a system which increased resolution of traditional videotape by modifying camera equipment to record video at 24 frames per second with 655 scan lines per frame, as opposed the normal NTSC method of 30 frames per second with 525 lines per frame. The effect of ImageVision when converted to 35mm film wasn't as good as footage originated on 35mm film, but much better than the standard video-to-film conversion. When the Pythons thought it would be a good idea to create a visual record of the Hollywood Bowl concerts they had no guarantee that such a thing would receive a theatrical release, so chose to record it on videotape at a substantially cheaper cost to doing it on film. However, as this would have necessitated shooting on the low-quality NTSC system, doing this would have ruled out any future film screenings altogether, and so the decision was made to upgrade from standard tape to ImageVision in case a theatrical release was reconsidered.

ImageVision were also the company responsible for filming the concert every night so that live images from the stage could be projected onto two 40ft by 60ft screens. These two screens were Ediophors, a brand of projection equipment which shows a very bright picture on a very large screen, ideal for outdoor concert halls. In addition to this, there was a standard rear-projection screen at the back of the stage onto which was projected, during scenery and costume changes, around ten minutes of film clips. These were sketches from the German shows with new English-language tracks, unseen by anyone in the United States up until that point, and a handful of Terry Gilliam animations (including his short film The Miracle Of Flight, which originated from an episode of The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine). These film clips were later converted to ImageVision for ease in the editing process.

The live footage projected on the nights was not recorded, and all the footage in the film comes from two nights which were specially recorded with five cameras - one at the centre-rear of the Bowl, two in front of the stage about ten rows back, and two cross-cameras in the wings. These were vision mixed live by ImageVision technical engineer Jim Frazier from a truck outside the Hollywood Bowl, and a music room at the Bowl was converted into a camera control room for the two evenings. A sixth camera, a handheld one, was also used to record the concert, but most footage taken by it was ultimately unusable. The other cameras performed smoothly, with the few errors being relatively minor problems like interference from a wireless microphone; that said, these errors did eventually cause a few shots that should have been in the film to have been omitted because they weren't up to technical standard. Lighting, despite many black backdrops and minimal stage dressing, wasn't really a problem, but one main concession had to be made for shooting on tape rather than film; some props needed to be repainted, making them a more neutral colour. A bright yellow desk in one sketch, for example, ended up beige.

The film was edited on tape by Jim Frazier, working in North Hollywood at Compact Video Systems, the company who, with Image Transform Inc., created the ImageVision system. He would then send videotapes of current rough cuts back to the UK for evaluation by the Pythons. This happened four times, with the fourth one approved as the finished film. This tape was then converted to a 35mm negative, and this negative was then fine cut by the Pythons and re-mastered into the final negative. It's this extra unnecessary generation that caused the slight poorness of the film's image - had it been fine cut on tape and converted directly into its final negative, the finished prints would have been of a higher picture quality.

The film was shot with its image anamorphically squeezed vertically into the frame to further increase resolution. When desqueezed in the edit suite it became (more-or-less) the standard widescreen 1.85:1 ratio. This means that a full-frame version of Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl has never existed, and that if you ever see the film presented in a 4:3 ratio then it's been pan-and-scanned, and you are missing a considerable portion of the image.

Source: "ImageVision Meets Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl" by Lee Gregory, American Cinematographer, January 1983.

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Re: Monty Python Thread

Post: # 4889Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:04 am

Original film inserts from Monty Python's "Dennis Moore" episode, including unused material.

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Re: Monty Python Thread

Post: # 4895Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:13 pm

Hans Ten Cate of Monty Python's Daily Llama sells off much of his collection of mostly Monty Python related tat. ... 513&_pgn=1

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Re: Monty Python Thread

Post: # 4911Post Garrett Gilchrist
Mon Jun 16, 2014 4:15 pm

Bit of a prototype Fawlty Towers:

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