The Bed Sitting Room (1969)

Article 3318 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-29-2010
Posting Date: 9-14-2010
Directed by Richard Lester
Featuring Rita Tushingham, Ralph Richardson, Peter Cook
Country: UK
What it is: Absurdist post-apocalypse satire

It’s after the apocalypse. Various survivors wander amidst the rubble. Some characters mutate. The police warn everyone to keep moving.

If Richard Lester wanted to make a stranger movie than HOW I WON THE WAR, he succeeded here. It’s so pervasively absurdist that it’s nearly impossible to pin down a precise meaning. It is, however, sporadically amusing enough to hold the attention. Various mutations occur; an old woman turns into a cupboard, a British lord turns into a bed sitting room, a police sergeant turns into a dog and an old man turns into a parrot. Familiar faces abound; Rita Tushingham is the 17-months pregnant daughter wandering around with her family, Ralph Richardson seeks help for his mutation, Spike Milligan cracks jokes and delivers pies to the face, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore drive around warning everyone to keep moving, and Marty Feldman (his first movie) plays a nurse. Running gags abound; everyone has trouble saying the word “bomb”, and the national anthem has been changed to “God Save Mrs. Ethel Shroake”, apparently the next in line to the throne. I can’t say it really all comes together in any coherent way, so how much you get out of it depends on your tolerance for strange British comedy. It even has a happy ending… I think.


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