- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (film)
name = A Funny Thing Happened
on the Way to the Forum
image_size = 215px
caption = theatrical poster
writer = Source:
Titus Maccius Plautus
Burt Shevelove Larry Gelbart
Melvin Frank Michael Pertwee
Zero Mostel Jack Gilford Phil Silvers
editing = John Victor-Smith
released = 16 October fy|1966 "(NYC)"
14 December "(London)"
January fy|1967 "(gen'l)"
runtime = 99 minutes
country = United Kingdom / FilmUS
language = English
budget = $2 million (est.)
gross = $3 million (US)
imdb_id = 0060438
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is a fy|1966
musical comedyfilm, based on the stage musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheimand a book by Burt Sheveloveand Larry Gelbart.
Inspired by the farces of the
ancient Romanplaywright Plautus(251-183 B.C.) – specifically " Pseudolus", "Miles Gloriosus" and " Mostellaria" – it tells the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolusand his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door.
The film was directed by
Richard Lester, with Zero Mosteland Jack Gilfordrecreating their stage roles. It also features silent movie legend Buster Keatonin his last motion picture role, and the man who turned down the lead in the Broadway production, Phil Silvers. Also appearing are Lester favorites Michael Crawford, Michael Hordernand Roy Kinnear.
The musical was adapted for the screen by
Melvin Frankand Michael Pertwee. They rearranged the plot and cut most of the songs. The movie was not well-received when first released, although it did turn a profit, and the creators of the musical have frequently expressed their dissatisfaction with it.
This film takes place in the city of Rome sometime during the reign of
Emperor Nero. Pseudolus ( Zero Mostel) is "the lyingest, cheatingest, sloppiest slave in all of Rome", whose only wish is to buy his freedom from his henpecked master Senex ( Michael Hordern) and his dominating wife Domina (Patricia Jessel). When he finds out that Senex's handsome but none too smart son, Hero ( Michael Crawford), has fallen in love with Philia ( Annette Andre), a beautiful virgin concubine from the house of procurer Marcus Lycus ( Phil Silvers) next door, Pseudolus makes a deal: he will get the girl for Hero, in return for his freedom. Unfortunately, the virgin has been sold to the great Roman legionaire, Captain Miles Gloriosus ( Leon Greene), who even now is on his way from conquering Crete to claim her as his bride. Pseudolus blackmails his overseer, Hysterium ( Jack Gilford) into masquerading as the corpse of Philia to fool the general, but, as they always must in a farce, things go wrong at every turn.
In the end, the boy gets the girl; Senex's next-door neighbor, Erronius (
Buster Keaton) finds the long-lost children he has spent years searching the world for; and Pseudolus gets his freedom and a beautiful concubine to be his wife, compliments of Marcus Lycus.
*Veteran film comedian Buster Keaton was terminally ill with cancer at the time of filming. Nevertheless, the 70-year-old actor was able to do many of his own stunts in the film, to the amazement of the cast and crew. ["", Thames Television documentary (aired in the U.S. on Turner Classic Movies)] "Forum" would be his final film appearance. [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000036/ Buster Keaton] ]
Doctor Who" star Jon Pertwee, brother of screenwriter Michael Pertwee, appears briefly as Crassus, who reports that there is no plague in Crete. He had originally played the part of Lycus in the 1963 West End stage production.
*Roy Kinnear appeared in eight other films directed by
Richard Lester: "Help!" (fy|1965), " How I Won the War" (fy|1967), " The Bed Sitting Room" (fy|1969), "The Three Musketeers" (fy|1973), " The Four Musketeers" (fy|1974), " Juggernaut" (1974), " Royal Flash" (fy|1975) and " The Return of the Musketeers" (fy|1989). [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0455702/ Roy Kinnear] ]
* "Comedy Tonight" — Pseudolus and Company
* "Lovely" — Philia and Hero
* "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" — Pseudolus, Senex, Lycus, and Hysterium
* "Bring Me My Bride" — Miles Gloriosus and Company
* "Lovely" (reprise) — Pseudolus and Hysterium
* "Funeral Sequence" - Pseudolus, Miles Gloriosus and Company)
* "Finale" — Company
Songs from the original Broadway score which were cut for the film: "Love I Hear" (Hero), "Free" (Pseudolus and Hero), "Pretty Little Picture" (Pseudolus, Hero, Philia), "I'm Calm" (Hysterium), "Impossible" (Senex and Hero), "That Dirty Old Man" (Domina) and "That'll Show Him" (Philia)
Stephen Sondeim's music was adapted for the film version of "Forum" by Ken Thorne, who previously worked with
The Beatleson "Help!" (fy|1965) and went on to compose music for " How I Won the War" (fy|1967), " The Bed Sitting Room" (fy|1969), " Juggernaut" (1974) and " Royal Flash" (fy|1975), all directed by Richard Lester, as well as many other films.Jessica Handler [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=75846&category=Articles "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (TCM article)] ] [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006322/ Ken Thorne] ] Thorne received the only award that "Forum" garnered, a 1967 Academy Awardfor "Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment".IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060438/awards Awards] ]
Although the musical had originally been written with Phil Silvers in mind, Zero Mostel starred on Broadway as PseudolusIBDB [http://ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=2779 "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"] ] , and
Richard Lesterwas his choice to direct the film version. Other directors who were considered included Charlie Chaplin, Orson Wellesand Mike Nichols.
"Forum" was filmed at Samuel Bronston Studios in
Madrid, Spain, and on location around that city, [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060438/locations Filming locations] ] on an estimated budget of $2 million. Filming took place from September to November of fy|1965.IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060438/business Business data] ]
Like Mostel, Jack Gilford was recreating his stage role as "Hysterium", but there are other connections to the Broadway production as well.
Tony Walton, who designed the production, including the costumes, was also the designer of the Broadway show. For Walton, who was married to Julie Andrewsfrom 1959 to 1967, "Forum" came at the beginning of both his film and stage careers: it was his second Broadway production, and his third film - he had designed costumes for "Mary Poppins" in fy|1964, and did the overall production design of "Fahrenheit 451" in fy|1966. [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0910589/ Tony Walton] ] [IBDB [http://ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=25417 Tony Walton] ]
George Martin, who with Ethel Martin is credited with the choreography of the film, [TCM [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=75846&category=Full%20Credits Full credits] ] was the assistant to choreographer
Jack Coleon Broadway. [IBDB [http://ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=22028 George Martin] ] ( Jerome Robbinsalso did some uncredited work on the stage show as well.)
Other members of the "Forum" team are notable as well. Cinematographer Nicholas Roeg moved up to the director's chair to make films such as "
Walkabout" (fy|1971), " Don't Look Now" (fy|1973), and " The Man Who Fell To Earth" (fy|1976) with David Bowie.
The animated end credits created by
Richard Williamsfeature many houseflies, a reminder of the fly problem the production suffered through when the fruits and vegetables which festooned the set were left out to rot overnight after the end of the shooting day.
"Forum" premiered in
New York Cityon 16 Octoberfy|1966 [TCM [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=75846 Overview] ] and in Londonon 14 Decemberof that year. [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060438/releaseinfo Release dates] ] . It went into general release in January 1967. It received about $3 million in rentals in the U.S.
Ken Thornereceived an Academy Awardfor "Oscar Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment" in 1967. In addition, the film was nominated that year for a Golden Globeas "Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy". [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060438/awards Awards] ]
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