Movie Details: From its opening multi-language titles (that sure looks like Swedish) to the closing arrest of the entire Dark Ages cast by modern-day bobbies, Monty Python & the Holy Grail has "comedy cult classic" written all over it. This time the Pythonites savage the legend of King Arthur, juxtaposing some excellently selected exterior locations with an unending stream of anachronistic one-liners, non sequiturs, and slapstick set pieces. The Knights of the Round Table set off in search of the Holy Grail on foot, as their lackeys make clippety-clop sounds with coconut shells. A plague-ridden community, ringing with the cry of "bring out your dead," offers its hale and hearty citizens to the body piles. A wedding of convenience is attacked by Arthur's minions while the pasty-faced groom continually attempts to burst into song. The good guys are nearly thwarted by the dreaded, tree-shaped "Knights who Say Ni!" A feisty enemy warrior, bloodily shorn of his arms and legs in the thick of battle, threatens to bite off his opponent's kneecap. A French military officer shouts such taunts as "I fart in your general direction" and "I wave my private parts at your aunties." Rabbits are a particular obsession of the writers this time around, ranging from the huge Trojan Rabbit to the "killer bunny" that decapitates one of the knights. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin collaborated on the script and assumed most of the onscreen roles, while Gilliam and Jones served as co-directors. — Hal Erickson
The first feature-length film from Monty Python, the quintet of physically and verbally gymnastic British sketch comics, is not only widely considered their funniest, but one of the funniest films ever committed to celluloid. Known for abruptly ending TV skits mid-stream with the segue "And now for something completely different" — due both to their distaste for writing endings and their ADD giddiness to move onward — the troupe finds uncharacteristic continuity here, examining one fertile topic from each of its absurd angles. Yet the movie is still comprised of distinct segments, any of which could serve as a favorite for fans who want to recite the choicest dialogue and make converts of the uninitiated. But for five minutes of sheer uncontrollable hysterics, one need only watch the scene in which Graham Chapman steadily lops the limbs from a foolishly determined knight, who continues issuing taunts even after he's been totally neutralized. Irritated more than threatened, Chapman's King Arthur keeps hacking at the prating cripple just to shut him up — it's the only sane reaction in this ridiculous world full of delusional windbags. Chapman is a wonderful constant as the frustrated straight man, and his colleagues lob one demented set piece after another "in his general direction." The temptation is to enumerate these clever interludes, but a catapulted cow really needs to be seen to be appreciated. The only time Monty Python and the Holy Grail stumbles is at its sudden ending, a cop-out that's pure Python. Or maybe it's just that any end to such enlightened joke slinging is cause for lament.