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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on January 1, 2010
Had I known that this VHS tape was being imported from England I would have been able to verify where it was produced. As England is on a different electrical system I would have known that I would not be able to view the movie!
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A PRIVATE FUNCTION [1984] [Blu-ray] [US Import] You Are Invited To The Funniest Affair Of The Year! Ripe, rude and robust!

An ambitious couple and a V.I.P. [Very Important Pig] collide in his outrageous comedy of manners! During a time of extreme food rationing in England following World War II, one town’s upper class bends the rules by illegally fattening a prize pig for a feast to celebrate the upcoming royal wedding. When a timid foot doctor Michael Palin [‘A Fish Called Wanda’] and his bossy wife, the 2 time Academy Award® winner Dame Maggie Smith [‘A Room with a View’] get wind of the plan, they seize the chance to climb the social ladder by kidnapping the pig…who has a few unpleasant surprises of its own in store. One of the most hilarious and critically-acclaimed British cult comedy film of all time, this star-packed satire proves some people will truly do anything to get ahead!

FILM FACT: The film won three BAFTA Film Awards: Best Actress for Dame Maggie Smith, Best Supporting Actress for Liz Smith and Best Supporting Actor for Denholm Elliott. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Alan Bennett and Best Film. Best Actress for Dame Maggie Smith for ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ [1969] and Best Supporting Actress for ‘California Suite’ [1978]. A musical based on the film opened in the West End in April 2011, under the new title ‘Betty Blue Eyes.’ It was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and ran for several months at the Novello Theatre. It starred Reece Shearsmith (of ‘The League of Gentlemen’ fame) as Gilbert, and actress Sarah Lancashire as Joyce. The film was predominantly filmed in Ilkley, Ben Rhydding, and Barnoldswick West Yorkshire in England.

Cast: Michael Palin, Dame Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Richard Griffiths, Tony Haygarth, John Normington, Bill Paterson, Liz Smith, Alison Steadman, Jim Carter, Pete Postlethwaite, Don Estelle, Eli Woods, Eileen O'Brien, Rachel Davies, Reece Dinsdale, Philip Whileman, Charles McKeown, Susan Porrett, Donald Eccles, Denys Hawthorne, HRH Queen Elizabeth II (archive footage) (uncredited) and Prince Philip (archive footage) (uncredited)

Director: Malcolm Mowbray

Producers: Denis O'Brien, George Harrison and Mark Shivas

Screenplay: Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray

Composer: John Du Prez

Cinematography: Tony Pierce-Roberts

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: Uncompressed 2.0 LPCM Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 92 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 1

Studio: IMAGE Entertainment

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘A Private Function’ is a typically British 1984 absurdly comedy turning a spotlight on class distinctions and social climbing in the UK. Set right after World War II, when there is still strict food rationing, a group of the upper class gentility plan a private feast in honour of HRH Queen Elizabeth II upcoming marriage, all in order to impress the local government. The feast is supposed to consist of pork from an illegally raised pig they have all been contributing their scraps to raise the pig up for fattening for the up and coming Private Function, but when a local podiatrist [Michael Palin] and his wife [Dame Maggie Smith) decide they want in and want a chance to rise up the social ladder, they steal the pig and get way more than they’d bargained for.

"I don't know what the last war was for!" sputter a number of bitter citizens in A Private Function, a cheerfully caustic comedy skewering British class resentments and social climbing in a small Yorkshire town brimming with conspiracy in 1947. Rationing is still taking a toll on domestic kitchens, but the burg's leading professionals, led by misanthropic Dr. Swaby [Denholm Elliott] are planning an elite banquet to commemorate the impending wedding of Princess Elizabeth. A few rungs down society's ladder, chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers [Michael Palin] bicycles dutifully to his patients' homes, their flying toenail clippings going ping off the ceramics on the mantelpiece, but despite a new office on the main high street, his small-potatoes status in the local pecking order irks his zealously ambitious wife Joyce Chilvers (a deliciously highly-strung Dame Maggie Smith), who squashes his mealtime shoptalk ("Don't bring feet to the table, please") and leaps at Gilbert Chilvers 's desperate suggestion that they, after being continually turned away at an overrun, understocked butcher shop, steal a pig to upgrade their larder and their profile. "It's not just pork, its power!" salivates Joyce.

Unknown to the Chilverses family, their porcine quarry is the unlicensed entrée for the royal wedding fete, and the sly lampoons of the film's first half kick into robust slapstick gear as the couple wrestles the oinking beast into their home, lacking the will or expertise to slay it, and the town leaders panic over losing their ill-gotten meat or having their black-market crime discovered. At the offer of a mere two turkeys to replace the kidnapped swine, one bourgeois rage, "We have 150 people coming, and Jesus isn't one of them!" The original screenplay by Alan Bennett, a droll jewel of TV and stage since the '60s and in recent decades a playwright of West End/Broadway hits, is pitch perfect in leavening the generally base townsfolk and bleak milieu with jokes that deepen character; the municipal meat inspector [Bill Paterson], whose raids are met with cries of "Gestapo" and lacks the senses of taste and smell, and as Liz Smith witnesses the contraband pig defecating all over her kitchen floor, she cringes, and shouts to Dame Maggie Smith, "I was quite right not to want kiddies if this is what it's like."

Veteran BBC director Malcolm Mowbray, who conceived the story with Alan Bennett, staged the action with just the right undertow of nastiness, and drew consistently neat performances from the ensemble, including Liz Smith as Joyce Chilverses's perpetually dotty live-in mother, and Pete Postlethwaite as a Machiavellian butcher who ruthlessly has his competitors shut down, and Richard Griffiths as a candy-munching accountant who, like Palin's Gilbert, gets sweet on the pig. ‘A Private Function’ amply demonstrated by a Dame Maggie Smith crawling after the porker, butcher knife in hand, or earnestly wailing for upper-class respect ("My father owned a chain of dry cleaners!"), punctures respectability with lowdown buffoonery and high style.

Blu-ray Video Quality – There have been better transfers of catalogue titles released onto Blu-ray, even of films older than A Private Function‘s 1984 vintage, but the 1080p encoding still looks acceptably film-like. Despite the appearance of slight source damage throughout and soft details, the transfer is pleasing enough and absent major amounts of compression artefacts and video noise. Despite this, the colours are bright and sharp, the blacks are rich, and there are no artefacts to be seen.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The audio is a basic Uncompressed 2.0 LPCM Stereo mix. There’s not much to say about it other than it provides clear enough dialogue, although it sometimes sounds a bit too compressed. The balance of sound effects and dialogue has a decent amount of space and especially the midrange is punchy.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: None, except the theatrical trailers for ‘A Private Function’ and close to a dozen other features by HandMade Films, the company co-founded by ex-Beatle George Harrison, including ‘Time Bandits,’ ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘Withnail & I.’ They hearken back to a time when the British film industry outside of the Harry Potter franchise actually existed.

Finally, ‘A Private Function’ is the kind of film that recalls the twee Ealing comedies of the '50s and yet another example of the disparities among the myriad types of funny characters of the period. If you're a right fan of this particular brand of British wit, dive in. If your tastes run more toward the raucous, though, politely decline the invite to this Private Function and it is one of the wittiest films of the 1980s, and on top of all that it is in my mind a true Alan Bennett classic comedy caper, that we the British can only pull off and has always been a big favourite of mine, but I find it very strange that this was not released in the UK, despite this anomaly, I am glad it has been released on the Blu-ray format and has been added to a pride of place in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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on July 10, 2013
There is an amazing cast of characters in this film - which is based on a story by well known British playwright and author Alan Bennett. Maggie Smith and Michael Palin are wonderful together - who would expect less from these two? But so are all the other offbeat and very British personalities which make this film so enjoyable. It also made me want to have a pig! The Brits really suffered post-war where food was rationed for several years and it was a time of day to day hardship and scratching meals together. However, this story is told with the blunt, oblique humour the Brits are known for and is therefore deliciously digestible.
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on September 20, 2011
This is a highly entertaining comedy pertaining to the formal town festivities surrounding the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip. The comedy arises for the shortages of celebratory food during that time of severe rationing and concerns an illegally kept pig. Officialdom has to be kept at bay at all costs! Michael Palin and Maggie Smith excel as a married couple, he a podiatrist and innocent of the pig affair. The Mother-in-law (Liz Smith) is 74 years old, doddery and amusing; --and younger than I am now, hence the title of the review.
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on December 14, 2003
Michael Palin of Monty Python and 'Fish Called Wanda' fame teams up with Maggie Smith ('Prime of Miss Jean Brodie', 'Room With a View', 'Gosford Park') to form one of the most eccentric married couples in English history. To top it off, the couple live with her mother played by the acctress who portrays the eccentric female vestry member (always knitting and creating strange kitchen concoctions) in the 'Vicar of Dilby' series.
Palin is "foot doctor" who spends his days bicycling from house to house in post-War II Yorkshire tending to female patients. In his travels around and about he crosses paths with a syndicate of "business men" who are raising an illegal pig for a "private function" to be held the day the Princess Elizabeth (II) marries.
Following a farcical turn of events, Palin kidnaps the pig named "Betty" planned for the roast. Urged on by Smith's character (pure Maggie), the couple "keep" the pig in their bathroom and try to kill it. Soon enough, the syndicate members discover the kidnapping and are hot on the tail of the missing pig. In the meantime, a zealous copper is hot on their tails.
Other wonderful actors in this romp include Denholm Elliot ('Room With a View'), Alison Steadman ('Singing Dectective', 'Pride and Prejudice'), Pete Postlehwaite ('Name of the Father', 'Brassed Off') and other very familiar faces. An uplifting film, but not suitable for those who are weak of stomach.
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on May 10, 2003
A true lost-between-the-cracks comic gem. My friends and I have enjoyed this movie since we first saw it and finding good copies of it were difficult, to put it mildly. Although the DVD is skimpy, it's here, and damn reasonably priced, too.
Even with the DVD remaster, the sound is typically lousy (what IS it with the British...refuse to use German microphones?) and one almost has to turn the subtitles on to understand all the muffled dialog. Miking problems aside, "A Private Function" is a delightful, funny, occasionally crude comedy about class struggle in post-war Britain. A small "who's-who" of England's character actors make up the perfect cast of this film and all turn in splendid, low-key performances. Michael Palin, possibly the best "actor-actor" of the Monty Python troupe, is charming as the chiropodist who unwittingly stumbles unto the upper-middle-class via his female clientele, much to the delight of his social-aspiring, piano teacher wife, Maggie Smith.
Thank George Harrison's Handmade Films, without whom this, and many other films would have never been made, however low-budget and poorly-received they were. "A Private Function" may not grab you on the first viewing, but there's much to go back for on repeated viewings. And it gets funnier each time.
One warning: if you're at all squeamish about the butchering business (or piggie gastro-intestinal business), you may want to skip this one!
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on August 20, 2015
even if it were a 5 star movie, it is not even worth 1/10 th of the asking price for this movie! Not the typical funny British fare I'm used to, and had to really look to recognize Maggie Smith : ) what really made me recognize her was her voice since I didn't really start watching her in films until she was little older, it was odd seeing her so young lol
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on May 1, 2014
just bought this film on spec it was really funny and the acting was excellent other friends have watched it
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on September 25, 2015
I ordered the VHS tape. Having a HD TV and BlueRay stuff, I was surprised how lousy a VHF tape can be. Not Amazon's fault though.
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on January 27, 2013
This is a classic Maggie Smith flick...such wonderfully British humor. As it is an older movie the speed of the story is much more relaxed than today's frenetic pace of flicks. This cast is chocked full of marvelously familiar faces. This certainly is a must have for any Maggie Smith fan...
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