View Full Version : Holy Grail Inspired by A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum?
The Hamster King
09-12-2010, 12:32 AM
We just watched the movie version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and we were struck by some curious parallels with Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
A character who gets three and five confused.
A pair of clueless soldiers who have a hard time guarding a door.
A young man sneaking notes out the window of his room.
A household of seductive young women, one of whom is played a lot like Zoot.
A pompous soldier who is played a lot like Arthur.
Holy Grail was made nine years after Forum. Has anyone noticed this before, or read anything about the Pythons taking some inspiration from the earlier movie?
09-12-2010, 10:04 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if the Pythons knew the movie.
Some of your parallels are real stretches though: There are few parallels between Marcus Gloriosus and Arthur, and Chapman doesn't play the part anything like the way Marcus is supposed to played (Arthur's not a raging egomaniac, and he is only pompous on occasion when he is trying to act the king. Marcus was pompous with every word he said). Sneaking notes is part of a long tradition in that sort of comedy (Juliet did it to Romeo). And the joke about the castle with Zoot is far different from that of the whorehouse in "Funny Thing" (for one thing, Zoot asks no fee). Clueless soldiers were used as far back as the Three Stooges.
So you're really left with one parallel. It's possible they were repeating the joke in that one case.
09-12-2010, 10:14 AM
Forum actually goes back a lot farther than1966 -- the stage musical opened in 1962.
The movie is significantly different, it's true -- London farce-writer and future Dr. Who John Pertwee rewrote it (and gets himself a cameo). They took out most f the songs. They gave Phil Silvers as Marcus Licus a much bigger role, and they added a lot of outdoor slapstick. All of the things you list are sorta in there, I think (I'm not sure about the confusing 3 and 5),but it still seems a stretch to me to think that Grail consciously stole a lot from Forum.
09-12-2010, 10:43 AM
I'm fairly sure that the household of seductive women is from the Arthurian tales. Possibly this one, from Gawain and the Green Knight:
Specifically, if I remember the movie (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070093/) correctly, the scene at the tower of temptation was fairly all-out.
Biffy the Elephant Shrew
09-12-2010, 11:25 AM
There are few parallels between Marcus Gloriosus and Arthur
Nitpick: Miles Gloriosus.
I only bother because A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum gets my vote for funniest movie of all time.
09-12-2010, 11:35 AM
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum gets my vote for funniest movie of all time.
Well, it has something familiar, something peculiar... something for everyone, really.
09-12-2010, 12:09 PM
But not a maid. And everyone ought to have one.
09-12-2010, 12:25 PM
And nothing for kings, nothing for crowns.
When you get down to it, though, Forum was written very much in the tradition of actual ancient Roman comedies, and Grail was written in the tradition of the Arthurian myths (distorted, of course, but not as much as you might think), so you could also have influences from the Roman comedies on the Arthurian myths.
09-12-2010, 02:03 PM
Similar, but based on the same thing? No. Believe it or not, a lot of the stories in Holy Grail come from real Arthurian legends. Yes, they are perverted a little, twisted around to be funny, etc. But Terry Jones is a medievalist and was pretty well-versed in the legends. Maybe he took a little here or there from other modern sources to "funny-up" the legends, but Holy Grail is not directly inspired by Funny Thing. (BTW, I love both of them...)
09-12-2010, 02:41 PM
The movie is significantly different, it's true -- London farce-writer and future Dr. Who John Pertwee rewrote it (and gets himself a cameo).
I think you're thinking of Jon Pertwee's brother, Michael, who was the screenwriter. Jon was in the London cast of the show (as Lycus) and played a different role in the film.
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