From his book Essential Cinema.
The Bed-Sitting Room
In the hazy aftermath of World War III, the fallout from a 'nuclear misunderstanding' (which lasted two minutes and twenty eight seconds, including the signing of the peace treaty) is producing strange mutations amongst the survivors, and the noble Lord Fortnum finds himself transforming into a bed sitting room.
According to Spike Milligan, who co-wrote the original stage play, The Bed-Sitting Room is an ultra-cynical examination of man's inability to escape the past. That cynical attitude pervades the superficial absurdity on display of post-apocalyptic Londoners going about as if nothing ever happened. Men in rags step behind broken TVs to read the news to an audience of one, a man pedals a stationary bicycle to power an electrical tower to keep the now-residential tube running on schedule, and life continues on apace.
Well, except for people turning into wardrobes, parrots, and the aforementioned bed-sitting room.
Reminiscent of the antic absurdist styles of Airplane!, Monty Python, and Benny Hill, The Bed-Sitting Room might have been just a little too helter-skelter…
Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night) directs this post-apocalyptic ensemble comedy about a group of disparate Brits trying to survive after World War III. The film features a who’s who of British comedy talent with the likes of Spike Milligan, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Arthur Lowe and Marty Feldman all having prominent parts. To call The Bed Sitting Room a strange experience is a bit of an understatement. It is an absurd and surrealist trip that happily pokes fun at the British culture, the class divide and stiff upper lips.
The thing that struck me most about the film was actually how beautiful it was at times. Although very much played for laughs, Lester has still created a striking film…
Massively underrated. You don't get many post-apocalyptic comedies anyway but Bed Sitting Room is definately an interesting watch. A truly surreal and peculiar piece of cinema showing Richard Lester, Spike Milligan and Peter Cook at their most bizarre. Plus a great Blu-ray transfer from the BFI as part of the Flipside series.
Eh? One of those magnificently madcap movies all but guaranteed to leave you scratching your head, this gathers a prime selection of top-level British comic talent to give us an absurdist take on a post-WWIII England. The BFI DVD rather rudely insinuates a far greater deal of Peter Cook than I was actually treated to, something I heavily begrudge it. His and Moore's roles are quite small, though still finely funny supports to an often surrealistic series of events that had me having to stuff a blanket in my mouth to avoid waking slumbering members of the household with my violent cacklings. It might be best described as a very British Dr Strangelove, in that without ever abandoning the crucial comic structure the story dons it attains an air of hopeless abandon, looking at humanity's future with the bleakest of smiles. A bizarre and baffling gem, it's a hysterical and kind of horrifying slice of post-apocalyptic life.
Weird post-apocalyptic comedy without much focus. Some chuckles to be had, but I must admit that the quality of the file I watched was sub-par, with a faded image and muddled audio. I'd really like to get my hands on the BFI blu-ray release and give it another watch.
A gentle recommendation.
Droll absurdity and lo-fi apocalyptic visuals, with Lester again proving one of the most inventive (and underrated?) stylists of the '60s. Unmistakably Ralph Richardson's dry run for the Supreme Being in Time Bandits, too.
Nobody makes cult films like the British. From the chilling horror of The Wicker Man to the high-camp lunacy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Britain has produced more than its fair share of cinematic oddities which were just too much for the mainstream. And no film is more emblematic of this particular brand of oddness than The Bed-Sitting Room, a film which makes even The Man Who Fell to Earth feel disciplined and coherent.
The Bed-Sitting Room began as a one-act play by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus, who had collaborated in the later years of The Goon Show. After a successful run at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, it was extended into a full-length play and ran in…
mostly just in love with the way their conversations are projected, as though a phrase thought to be sarcastic is taken as valid thought and proper rebuttals are given
This 1969 british post-nuclear-holocaust comedy was a weird one. Basically all set in a garbage dump, it depicts the handful survivors of the shortest war in ever, that completely wiped UK out. It basically plays out as a completely unhinged Monty Python sketch that just won't stop. Not the kind the do in the movies, but the weird kind you could only find in the TV series. People turn into furniture, babies are born after minutes of pregnancy, the electricity of the whole nation is powered by a guy on an excercise bike etc. etc. It's mostly worth remembering as being Marty Feldmans (Mr Fisheyes) first film role as a very strange and somewhat discomforting nurse.
Funny peculiar, and not entirely successful, this post-Apocalyptic comedy has several memorable moments, not least the metamorphosis of Ralph Richardson into a piece of furniture, the interplaying of Pete and Dud, a touch of the cutes from Richard Warwick, and some glorious, and silly comic interludes from Spike Milligan, Roy Kinnear, Arthur Lowe and Michael Hordern.
Taken as a whole, this film is incoherent and a bit of mess, but yet it is a film I enjoy rewatching. So, all together, "God save Mrs Ethel Shroake of 393A High Street, Leytonstone".
the very logical consequences of a nuclear world war in 90 minutes - pure absurdism of the appendix of humanity.
I’m really surprised as to why this film is so obscure. It’s full of massive stars of it’s day including Peter Cook and Spike Milligan. I guess people had a hard time with the surreal nature of it all. Overall I had a good time with the film though I found it a little pointless by the end. There is no real storyline to speak of, we just see these people in their post apocalyptic environment living their lives. There are some great things here. I loved the idea that the queen is just some woman who was 100’s of steps down on the heir line. There is a great bit near the start with a guy coming round someone’s dwellings to sit behind a broken TV to read the news. I’m not sure I could watch it again but it was a nice watch.
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I'm a sucker for films set after an apocalypse so I thought a list might be useful. It is by…
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Added Comedians back on 28th Jan to make the full 1,000 titles again.
Best viewed in 'film name' order for…