Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1980s Private Function, A (1984)

Private Function, A (1984)

In post-war Yorkshire, with rationing still very much in force, mild-mannered chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers (Michael Palin) tries to prove his worth to the snobbish locals by kidnapping a pig which is being fattened up for a local banquet to celebrate the 1947 royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Lt. Philip Mountbatten.

With its gentle, witty portrait of postwar Britain and its sly digs at bourgeois aspirations, this comedy has the stamp of Ealing about it.

Scripted by Alan Bennett, it is an often hilarious mixture of well-observed social comedy and sometimes laborious earthy humour, much of the latter being inspired by the bodily functions of the pig who has been fed on an ‘austerity diet’ including toenail clippings and ground rat.

Palin does a nice line in mortified meekness as Gilbert, but he is upstaged by Maggie Smith, as his scheming wife, Joyce, and Liz Smith as Joyce’s hilariously dotty old mum, whose eccentric antics and distracted ramblings provide some of the highlights.

Gilbert Chilvers
Michael Palin
Joyce Chilvers
Maggie Smith
Dr Charles Swaby
Denholm Elliott
Henry Allardyce
Richard Griffiths
Bernard Sutcliff
Tony Haygarth
Frank Lockwood
John Normington
Douglas Nuttal
Pete Postlethwaite
Maurice Wormold
Bill Paterson
Liz Smith
Mrs Allardyce
Alison Steadman
Inspector Howard Noble
Jim Carter
PC Penny
Reece Dinsdale
Don Estelle
Mrs Sutcliff
Eileen O’Brien

Malcolm Mowbray