Regular Shadowplayer and acclaimed Mick Travis impersonator Alex Livingston suggests the scene of Spike Milligan’s arrest from Richard Lester’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1973).
“before i think about it too much and sink into a tarpit of indecision, i am going to nominate a scene from richard lester’s the three musketeers. christopher lee and his guards drag raquel welch from her bedroom whilst spike milligan fumbles to reload his flintlock pistol, utterly blind to the possibility that he may not have the upper hand. i think it is basically the muttering that does it for me here”
I’ve thrown in the following sequence because I like the sedan chair gag, and an appearance from Frank “Captain Peacock” of Are You Being Served? is always a bonus.
Raquel Welch phoned Richard Lester up in the middle of the night to complain about the boob jokes in the film.
“This bit where a hand reaches from a heap of melons and grabs my wrist — I don’t think it’s funny.”
“Well I do.”
At which point she called the producers and threatened to quit. Colossal panic — the funding was contingent on her involvement. They sweet-talked her back on-board, but she still pulled stunts like wearing costumes modelled on Lana Turner’s in the ‘forties version, rather than on historical fact like everybody else.
Christopher Lee bored everyone rigid with his endless anecdotage, except producer Pierre Spengler, who found him fascinating. Lee can pick up an anecdote, if interrupted, and continue it MONTHS LATER, if required. But my costume designer friend Ali, who worked with him on GREYFRIAR’S BOBBY, got on very well with the Great Man. As Sidney Greenstreet says, “I’ll tell you right out, I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.”
Spike Milligan stared at the historical recreations in complete awe: “People really lived like this,” he would say, with tears in his eyes.
The movie has one of the most disparate casts ever assembled. Charlton Heston shares a scene with Milligan, finding him “very funny but not over-the-top”. OF COURSE he’s over-the-top! He’s in a completely different comedy register from everybody else in the film! But Lester excels at uniting different styles of acting / muttering.
“out of maybe five films that i considered taking my euphoric moment from, three featured faye dunaway. isn’t that funny?”
Not funny, Alex, JUST SENSIBLE.
Footnote: any Americans unfamiliar with Milligan’s brand of surreal TV can educate themselves using the University of Youtube. Maybe start HERE.