A Fish Called Wanda

A Fish Called Wanda

Infobox Film | name = A Fish Called Wanda

caption = A Fish Called Wanda movie poster
director = Charles Crichton
producer = Michael Shamberg
writer = John Cleese
Charles Crichton
starring =John Cleese
Jamie Lee Curtis
Kevin Kline
Michael Palin
Maria Aitken
Tom Georgeson
music =John Du Prez
cinematography = Alan Hume
editing =
distributor = Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
released = July 15, 1988
runtime = 108 min
language = English
budget =
imdb_id = 0095159

"A Fish Called Wanda" is a 1988 comedy film released by MGM. It was written by John Cleese and Charles Crichton and directed by Charles Crichton, and stars Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin.


The film is a comedy about a jewel heist and its aftermath. The heist is planned by George Thomason (played by Tom Georgeson) whose right-hand man is Ken Pile (Michael Palin), an animal lover with a bad stutter. They bring in two Americans: an alluring con artist, Wanda Gershwitz (Jamie Lee Curtis) and a "weapons man", Otto West (Kevin Kline). Wanda and Otto are lovers pretending to be siblings so that Wanda can work her charms on George and Ken.

After the robbery, Wanda and Otto betray George to the police but discover that George and Ken have moved the loot to a new location. Wanda decides to seduce George's lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese), to find out where it is. Meanwhile, Ken is charged by George to silence a key witness.

There is subsequent confusion and slapstick. For example, with Ken accidentally killing the witness' three Yorkshire Terriers one by one, instead of the witness. The witness eventually suffers a fatal heart attack when her third Terrier is killed by accident. The title is derived from the name of Ken's tropical fish which Otto threatens to eat alive during the farcical torture scene.

Archie and Wanda gradually fall in love and the movie ends with those two leaving the country and Ken finally having his revenge on Otto by running him over with a steamroller.


*John Cleese - Archie Leach
*Jamie Lee Curtis - Wanda Gershwitz
*Kevin Kline - Otto West
*Michael Palin - Ken Pile
*Maria Aitken - Wendy Leach
*Tom Georgeson - George Thomason


The film was an enormous critical and commercial success when it was released and has remained a popular favorite since.Fact|date=November 2007 Kline received wide acclaim and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work. ["Awards Database," "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". Retrieved from http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/DisplayMain.jsp?curTime=1173727436268 on 2007-03-12.] Cleese and Crichton received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

In 2000, the readers of "Total Film" magazine voted "A Fish Called Wanda" the 37th greatest comedy film of all time. In 2004 the same magazine named it the 41st greatest British film of all time. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film 21st on its list of the 100 funniest movies ever made. This film is number 27 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". It is also included in the Reader's Digest list of the "100 Funniest Films" (a list rather than a ranking). "A Fish Called Wanda" was one of only 24 movies to be named on all three of the A.F.I., Bravo and Readers' Digest "top 100 funniest" lists. Fact|date=March 2008 The movie also garnered an impressive and rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In 1989, a Danish audiologist, Ole Bentzen, died after laughing while watching the film. His heart was estimated to have beat at between 250 and 500 beats per minute, before he succumbed to cardiac arrest. [ [http://www.canongate.net/Lists/Death/9PeopleWhoDiedLaughing 9 People Who Died Laughing - Death - Book of Lists - Canongate Home] ]


The principal cast reunited in 1997 for "Fierce Creatures" (dubbed an "equal" rather than a sequel or prequel, by Cleese), playing different roles and meeting less success.

John Cleese and his daughter, Cynthia (who played Portia), have reportedly started to work on a stage musical version of the film. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/2130261/Memories-of-Jamie-Lee-Curtis-make-John-Cleese-sing-again.html Memories of Jamie Lee Curtis make John Cleese sing again - Telegraph ] ]


External links

*imdb title|id=0095159|title=A Fish Called Wanda

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