Gaz : “So, uh, Horse… What can you do?”
Horse : “I dunno, really… Let’s see, there’s the, uh… the bump, the stomp, the bus stop… My breakdancing days are probably over, but there’s always the funky chicken.”
One of the hardest things that happened a year ago when the pandemic first started to take a toll on our daily lives (yes, it’s been a year) was the sense of futility. It overcame me. I just didn’t know what I could do. I’m a past middle age man, and I’d built a whole way of doing my job, of teaching to my students, of running the film festival. There was a sense of humiliation to be honest, for I didn’t know how to do certain things necessary to move forward. On my first day teaching virtually, a zoom bomber ruined my attempt of educating in the new world order. I can’t recall feeling that exposed in my life, the sense of worthlessness. We couldn’t program movies at the Riviera, we were told to close to the public. How are you supposed to bring movies to people if you cannot project them? Well, I just decided to attempt new unexplored ways. I started writing this daily column. We began doing virtual q&a’s with filmmakers and interestingly my teaching became fun. An odd sense of freedom overcame me by going into the unknown and embracing what I first imagined to be dark and scary. Even cooking, though I had never prepared every meal of the day before, became dare-devilishly fun and experimental. I even took a big leap of faith and went to the Santa Paula Animal Rescue center and brought home a puppy who has become my best friend. Jumping into the void, what did I have to lose since I already felt so naked?
It is the idea of making lemonade out of the lemons that is embraced in the lovable “The Full Monty” (1997), the British comedy that became a surprise hit and ended up being nominated for Best Picture alongside Curtis Hanson’s “L.A. Confidential,” Gus Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting,” James L. Brooks’ “As Good As it Gets” and James Cameron’s ultimate winner “Titanic.” That fact fits with the film’s spirit that the underdog can accomplish the impossible (or in this case the ridiculous) if they set their heart to it. It’s extremely laugh out loud funny. I dare you not to grin when you watch the scene in the sad unemployment office line, and Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’ starts playing on the radio and the men start rolling their shoulders and marking their steps to the beat of the tambourine.
“No one said anything to me about the full monty!” says Horse, one of the six unemployed characters we follow in the film, referring to being completely nude. Since the film takes place in the 80s in Sheffield, their English is peppered with slang. The full monty is a phrase that is the equivalent of America’s ‘the whole nine yards” or ‘the whole shebang.’ It’s a credit to the movie’s popularity that it bumped its familiarity in our daily vernacular.
We learn in an opening sequence using a promotional sequence from 1972 about Sheffield’s huge expansion due to the Industrial revolution and stainless steel being developed locally. International competition in iron and steel caused the decline of the factories in the 80s, leading to great unemployment. Gaz and his friend Dave resort to stealing scrap metal to make ends meet. Facing insurmountable child support payments, Gaz needs a miracle. Noticing women lining up to see a traveling troupe of Chippendale’s strippers, he concocts a quixotic dream of forming his own band of strippers, average blokes, and making enough money to retire his debt.
They encounter Lumper, a depressed security guard who is attempting suicide, and offer their friendship in exchange for his participation. They need a choreographer so they enlist their foremen Gerald who has been pretending to go to work for six months for he’s too afraid to disappoint his wife and her array of gnomes she keeps on the front lawn of the house. They hold auditions (of course they’re a train wreck) and round out the rest of the group which includes Horse who is a middle aged black man who can actually move like James Brown despite his hip problems and Guy, who attempts to do a Donald O’Connor flip through the wall but ends up flat on his face. It doesn’t matter because he turns out to have unexpected assets. “Gentlemen, the lunchbox has landed,” says Gaz. This out of shape and out of their league motley crew may not have the talent but they have the drive.
The film unfolds unpretentiously, affably, gaining your affection block by block. There are some irresistible scenes like them studying the movie “Flashdance” to gain insight into dancing only to criticize the welding capabilities of Jennifer Beals. In very matter-of-fact ways it starts dealing with meaningful topics like body image issues, objectification, the aforementioned suicide, homosexuality and unemployment. Exclaims Dave who is self-conscious about his body,“Well, they’re going to be looking at us like that, aren’t they, Eh? I mean, what if next Friday 400 women turn ’round and say ‘He’s too fat, he’s too old and he’s a pigeon-chested little tosser?’ What happens then, eh?” The six men who seem to only have their out of work status as a common factor develop a strong sense of community and brotherhood. And, surprise, it will make you feel so good at the end.
Gerald: “Dancers have coordination, skill, timing, fitness, and grace. Take a long, hard look in the mirror.”
Available to stream on Amazon Prime and to rent on Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Redbox, Apple TV, YouTube, FandangoNOW and DIRECTV.
Written by Simon Beaufoy
Directed by Peter Cattaneo
Starring Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, Tom Wilkinson, Wim Snape, Steve Huison and Paul Barber
Director Peter Cattaneo on Bringing “The Full Monty” to the Screen
Film4 and Miramax passed on ‘The Full Monty’ because they thought it was too similar to Brassed Off. Then, after our film became a huge hit, Harvey Weinstein reportedly said: “I had two films about British unemployed guys who put on a show. In one of them, they took their clothes off – the others blew trumpets. And I chose the fucking trumpets.” Fox Searchlight ended up financing it very low-budget, for almost £3m. They wanted to do it quickly. I gave them the script – by Simon Beaufoy, who later wrote Slumdog Millionaire – at Sundance in January 1996 and we were shooting it by April. I was expecting to have to do a big sell on Robert Carlyle and Tom Wilkinson, but they said cast whoever you want. Robert felt like the right choice for Gary, the former Sheffield steelworker trying to save his relationship with his son. I just trusted he could do the humour side of things. My main concern was differentiating everyone. I see so many ensemble films and I’m like: “Which one was that?” I wanted each one to pop on the poster: the thin one with red hair, the little round one…We shot the final stripping sequence in one day, halfway through the schedule. Had we left it for the end it would have become A Thing, making everyone tense. Robert – after talking to the guys – had specified I could only do one take of them naked. In the script, the final reveal was written as a full-frontal naked star jump. I knew we wouldn’t be able to show any genitals, so I tried to be clever: I thought about shooting it low from the crowd, with hands going up in the air to cover them. But it was too hard to pull off spontaneously. Then I realised I should just shoot in from the back, with just a row of bums. Robert lost faith in the film – I don’t know why. He recently said Fox Searchlight took it away from me in the editing room, but it’s not true. It was prearranged that [producer] Uberto Pasolini should do his own cut. Fox had a weird way of releasing it, though, which was in America first and then here. They decided the UK premiere would be in Sheffield, with an afterparty at the Leadmill, with fish and chips as the nibbles. We thought: “Please don’t try to be all northern.” It made $258m worldwide, the 10th biggest film that year. I realised what an enormous phenomenon it had become when Prince Charles was on the front of the Daily Mail doing the dole queue dance. It gave the British film industry a shot of confidence. A lot of films got greenlit that shouldn’t have done in the hope they might be the next Full Monty – I probably made a couple of them myself.” (theguardian.com)
Actor Hugo Speer on “The Full Monty”
“I’d been in Brighton for a couple of years, hanging around with people playing drums under the pier. I thought: this isn’t what I went to drama school for. I moved to London and The Full Monty was the first job I got. It was a beautiful script: very funny, but with that pathos that is very difficult to get right. Being from Harrogate, I was acutely aware of the deindustrialisation in the north, that legacy of whole communities having their hearts ripped out. I did it running on pure enthusiasm. We were all staying in a budget hotel in Brook Hill, Sheffield, hitting the bar after shooting, getting about four hours sleep a night. All six of us had one trailer to change in. We’d be hopping up and down on one leg trying to put a pair of socks on, crashing into each other. The makeup team did all our intimate waxing and shaving. The camaraderie on screen was genuine. The climactic scene was nuts. It was in a very cold working men’s club, starting at about midday. The makeup and costume girls knew how we were feeling, so they were thrusting glasses of alcohol into our hands between takes. The extras had smuggled in booze, too. They weren’t aware we were going to go all the way – that was a bit of smarts on the producers’ part, so it was a completely natural reaction they got at the end. I genuinely enjoyed myself: how often does that sort of thing happen in your life? The film’s success snowballed incredibly quickly. Princess Diana died two days after it was released, which gave the film an enormous boost: people needed cheering up. It was like taking my first acid trip – the world around you changes, you don’t fundamentally alter. Because I was playing this kind of hunky-funky guy, introduced as “The lunchbox has landed”, I got a lot more attention from girls. I wasn’t going to cry into my beer about it. All the Hollywood stuff was quite ridiculous. Paul Barber and I turned up at an Oscars party and Burt Reynolds answered the door and put us both in a headlock, one under each arm: “I love you guys!” Critics generally said it was pleasant enough, but the paying public were the ones who took it to their hearts. It’s like a long-lost friend. It’s invariably on a channel somewhere. When it is, I’ll get a text from a friend saying: “I can see your bottom!” (theguardian.com)
About Composer Anna Dudley
Anne Dudley is a musician, composer, arranger and producer. Her work crosses the pop and classical worlds in a unique way. She studied music for 3 years at the Royal College of Music gaining a Performer’s Diploma and was awarded the B. Mus prize for the highest marks in her year. This was followed by a year at King’s College where Anne was awarded a Masters Degree. In 2004 the Royal College of Music recognized Anne’s outstanding career by awarding her a prestigious Fellowship. In July 2011 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Kent. Her career in pop music started with a meeting with Trevor Horn in the early 1980s. She was the keyboard player and arranger on such records as ABC’s “Lexicon of Love”, Frankie goes to Hollywood’s “Two Tribes” and Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Gals” which she co-wrote. Anne was a founding member of Art of Noise, whose pioneering attitude towards sampling was highly innovative and remains influential to this day. Art of Noise are popularly remembered for their collaborations with Duane Eddy (“Peter Gunn”), Max Headroom (“Paranoimia”) and Tom Jones (“Kiss”) but it is tracks such as “Moments in Love” and “Close to the Edit” which have provided the blueprint for the “remixology” age. The group re-invented itself for the Millennium with a stunning album “The Seduction of Claude Debussy”. Art of Noise lives on in the recent album “Anne Dudley plays the Art of Noise” released 2018 and some live performances with colleagues J.Jeczalik and Gary Langan. Anne has written with and arranged for artists such as Pulp, The Pet Shop Boys, Robbie Williams, Jeff Beck, Seal and Elton John. In fact Anne’s string arrangements can be heard on a wide range of records – from Boyzone and Travis to Rod Stewart and S Club 7. She played the piano and contributed a string arrangement to Will Young’s number 1 single “Leave right now”. Anne’s first solo album ”Ancient and Modern” was released on Echo Records in the UK and EMI Angel in the USA in 1995 to critical acclaim. Her second album “A Different Light” including a classical re-arrangement of “Moments in Love” was released in 2002. She arranged and conducted a spectacular concert of “chill out” music for the orchestra which took place at the Royal Festival Hall in October 2002 and Brixton Academy in February 2003. This concert was repeated in the idyllic outdoor setting of Kenwood on Saturday July 10 th 2004. The album “Seriously Chilled” – a new take on chill-out music was released on EMI in 2003. Anne has recently recorded an album entitled “Plays the Art of Noise” which explores the various and intriguing textures of the acoustic, electric and prepared piano. Anne has been writing music for films for over twenty years. Her scores include “The Crying Game” “Buster”,”Pushing Tin” and the long-running TV series “Jeeves and Wooster”. Anne won an Oscar in 1998 for “The Full Monty”. Her music is a major part of the BBC drama “Poldark” now filming its 5th series. The soundtrack entered the Classical charts at number 2. “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again” provided an opportunity for Anne to collaborate with the legendary Benny Andersson of ABBA. She provided the incidental music – between the songs!
Other scores Anne has completed include the animated feature for the BBC/S4C entitled “The Miracle Maker” (the story of the New Testament with Ralph Fiennes as the voice of Jesus), and a ten part drama for HBO – “The Tenth Kingdom”. Anne scored Tony Kayes’s first feature for New Line Cinema, “American History X”. Her long working relationship with Tony has resulted in many award-winning commercials such as Volvo (“Twister”) Vauxhall Astra (“Hundreds of Babies”), Reebok (“Field of Dreams”) and Guinness (“Fishing”). In addition she has been scoring the outstanding Stella Artois commercials for several years. She scored Stephen Fry’s acclaimed debut feature “Bright Young Things”. In December 2007 the Old Vic production of Cinderella, adapted by Stephen Fry, included songs and incidental music composed by Anne. The show was a sell out for its entire run and may be revived very soon. Her score for the BBC drama “The Key” was nominated for an Ivor Novello award as was her music for “Trial and Retribution”. Both series 1 and 2 of “Poldark” were nominated for a BAFTA. She also scored the acclaimed and controversial “Elle” (a César award winner for best film) for director Paul Verhoeven. The score was awarded the prestigious French SACEM award in 2017. Anne was the recipient of an Ivor Novello Award for outstanding contribution to British music in 2017. Other scores Anne has completed include the animated feature for the BBC/S4C entitled “The Miracle Maker” (the story of the New Testament with Ralph Fiennes as the voice of Jesus), and a ten part drama for HBO – “The Tenth Kingdom”. Anne scored Tony Kayes’s first feature for New Line Cinema, “American History X”. Her long working relationship with Tony has resulted in many award-winning commercials such as Volvo (“Twister”) Vauxhall Astra (“Hundreds of Babies”), Reebok (“Field of Dreams”) and Guinness (“Fishing”). In addition she has been scoring the outstanding Stella Artois commercials for several years. She scored Stephen Fry’s acclaimed debut feature “Bright Young Things”. In December 2007 the Old Vic production of Cinderella, adapted by Stephen Fry, included songs and incidental music composed by Anne. The show was a sell out for its entire run and may be revived very soon.Her score for the BBC drama “The Key” was nominated for an Ivor Novello award as was her music for “Trial and Retribution”. Both series 1 and 2 of “Poldark” were nominated for a BAFTA. She also scored the acclaimed and controversial “Elle” (a César award winner for best film) for director Paul Verhoeven. The score was awarded the prestigious French SACEM award in 2017. Anne was the recipient of an Ivor Novello Award for outstanding contribution to British music in 2017.
Anne was appointed the first Composer in Association with the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2001. Her first commission was “Music and Silence” an orchestral score based on scenes from Rose Tremain’s novel, which received its premiere at the Orchestra’s 50th Birthday Celebration Concert at the Royal Festival Hall in September 2002. A Christmas concert based on the theme of “Ancient and Modern” took place in December 2003 with the vocal ensemble I Fagiolini at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and featured the world premiere of Anne’s cantata “A Winter Solstice”. This concert was so popular and successful it was reprised at the Chichester Festival Theatre. “Northern Lights” inspired by the music and culture of Norway was premiered in February 2005 and repeated in November 2006 receiving enthusiastic reviews in “The Times” and “The Independent”. She composed three pieces for children with the cellist Steven Isserlis for narrator and string soloists based on musical fairy tales. Anne composed 2 short operas commissioned by the Royal Opera House with libretti by Terry Jones – “The Good Doctor” and “The Owl and the Pussycat”. She also composed a musical piece for a Sam Taylor-Wood installation at The White Cube. Working together with Bill Bailey, a whole concert was constructed as a learning tool about the orchestra and how it works. Of course what was learnt was unreliable in the extreme. Recently she composed a multi media piece for the violinist Joshua Bell entitled “The Man with the Violin”. This was premiered in Washington with the National Symphony Orchestra and was performed in Canada at the National Arts Centre. Anne composed a piece for the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra. The commission came about as a result of the SACEM prize awarded for the score to “Elle”. Anne produced and arranged Alison Moyet’s hit album entitled “Voice” a collection of evocative and atmospheric standards. She produced all the songs for “Walking On Sunshine” – a romantic comedy set in Italy and based around hit songs of the 1980s. She was also music producer on the film version of “Les Miserables”, overseeing the live on-set vocal recordings and re-orchestrating and providing additional music. Anne arranged and produced Eleanor Tomlinson’s debut album “Tales From Home” released on Sony Masterworks in June 2018. (annedudley.co.uk)
About Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy
Simon Beaufoy started his writing career with the screenplay for “The Full Monty” – returning to it fifteen years later for a stage adaptation that was nominated for an Olivier Award and continues to tour nationwide. Other screenplays include the current hit film about the iconic tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, “Battle of the Sexes” (starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell), the multi Oscar winning “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours” for which he was nominated for an Academy Award® alongside co-writer Danny Boyle. Along the way, there have been many other experiments in fiction, including the screenplays for “Among Giants,” “Yasmin,” This is Not a Love Song,” “The Darkest Light” and the climate change drama “Burn Up.” He adapted the novel “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” which was nominated for a Golden Globe and the dystopian novel “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” For FX, Simon created the anthology drama television series “Trust” about the abduction of John Paul Getty III, directed by Danny Boyle. Future projects include an adaptation of Michael Ondaatje’s “In the Skin of the Lion,” an original screenplay for See-Saw Films and the Elizabeth Taylor biopic “A Special Relationship,” starring Rachel Weisz. (knighthallagency.com)
About Director Peter Cattaneo
Peter Cattaneo has 2 Oscar nominations to his name, most notably Best Director for “The Full Monty” in 1998. After the film’s global success, Peter moved into the world of commercials, shooting subtle, calculated comedy work for Audi, Kit Kat and several campaigns for Volkswagen. Work for KFC, The Rugby World Cup, Carlsberg, Camelot, the Co-Op, Barclays and Paddy Power has further cemented Peter as one of the best comedy and performance directors in the industry. Between 2010 and 2014 Peter directed all 3 seasons of BAFTA winning sitcom, “Rev” starring Tom Hollander and Olivia Coleman, about a countrified vicar moving into the ever so slightly less idyllic world of South London. His latest film, ‘The Military Wives’, stars Sharon Horgan and Kristin Scott Thomas, and is based on the real events of 2011. (academyfilms.com) A few of Cattaneo’s other works include “Lucky Break” (2001), “Opal Dream” (2006), “The Rocker” (2008), “Little Crackers” (2010-2012) and “Diana and I” (2017).