Movie of the Week: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Charles Crichton directs John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline in this crime farce where a stodgy barrister finds himself seduced by the American femme fatale of a group of London diamond heisters.

Torture by chip, sex scenes in basic Italiano and dog homicide. This was a favourite of mine as a kid. Much like Trading Places, you love the enthused ensemble so much you just crave the next set-up where some new variation of them will collide. The jokes in Wanda fade to the background, punchline is not the priority, the broad and eager star acting takes forefront. Kline goes full volume, Cleese is slightly wistful, Michael Palin proves the vulnerable monster and MVP Curtis is a mysteriously complex but still seductive hottie. The rhythm and warmth they create as they bounce off each other is movie magic. This has the larky structure of an Ealing comedy, the anarchic legacy of Monty Python and the bounce of an Eighties yanks V limeys culture clash. The jubilant, brassy score by John Du Prez is a hidden marvel. A Fish Called Wanda might not do much for audiences outside my generation but the nostalgia it evokes and familiarity it delivers is like a warm cuddle. A cuddle where a man stuck in concrete is run over by a steamroller and a glamorous moll dryhumps a rope while listening to Basil Fawlty spaff Russian!


Check out my wife Natalie’s Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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