A Fish Called Wanda was the blockbuster which proved that John Cleese could be a movie star in his own right. Directed by the Veteran Charles Crichton, who made the 1951 Ealing Comedies classic The Lavender Hill Mob, Wanda combined Ealing-comedy capers and Basil Fawlty-esque farce with contemporary big-screen swearing and black comedy. The plot develops in classic film noir style as Cleese's lawyer, Archie Leech, gets sucked into the double-crossing aftermath of a London diamond heist. For sound box-office reasons, British comedies often sport an American star and... here Cleese delivers not only Jamie Lee Curtis as a smooth operating femme fatale, but Kevin Kline as her idiotic, and insanely jealous lover (for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar). Pushing the limits of bad taste is Michael Palin's animal-loving Ken, who in the film's best running gag attempts to murder an old lady, only to slay her beloved pet dogs. Other highlights include Palin as a man with two chips up his nose and Cleese showing the world a different sort of "Full Monty". One of the funniest British films ever made, A Fish Called Wanda was followed by Fierce Creatures (1997), which reunited the lead cast and claimed to be an "equal" not a "sequel", but sadly wasn't. --Gary S Dalkin [show more]
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