The Set of 400: #81 – My Favorite Insulting Frenchman

Today! Because this is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who –

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Directed by Terry Gilliam (x4) and Terry Jones (x2)

Starring Graham Chapman (x2), John Cleese (x3), Eric Idle (x2), Michael Palin (x4), Terry Gilliam (x2), Terry Jones (x2), Connie Booth, Carol Cleveland, John Young, Sandy Johnson

For the longest time, the only Monty Python product I liked was Life of Brian. Meaning of Life then and now is a little too all over the place for me, Holy Grail I felt was bizarrely over-praised, and I had no access to the Flying Circus whatsoever. Really, circa 1992, how were people seeing that show? Did it still air late on PBS? Because I just never saw it. Even now you never see it on television, so you better pony up for that gigantic DVD collection!

But in time, I came around to the cult of Holy Grail. I was probably rejecting it for its massive popularity until I was well along in college. Like, everyone knew that one guy who would quote this movie endlessly, and out of context The Knights Who Say Ni just aren’t funny. Hell, most Monty Python bits aren’t funny when your dumb buddies are dead-parroting the lines. No one much seemed to talk about Life of Brian, so for reasons discussed back in #251, that was the one I adopted early. My gateway into Holy Grail, oddly enough, was straight up buying the DVD around 2002 – because I was still buying a lot of discs in those pre-streaming days (Okay, I still buy a few here and there). On that Special Edition was a closed caption feature “Subtitles for People Who Don’t Like the Film (taken from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part II)” which I found hilarious, and ended up getting me solidly hooked on the movie. Weird, right?

I don’t know, this just squarely appealed to me

Because it is so widely known and loved, it seems unnecessary to even recount any details of the movie. The Trojan rabbit. The Rabbit of Caerbannog. A shrubbery. Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Film. Tim. Are there people who don’t really like this movie? It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, per se, I just didn’t really watch it. It’s the kind of movie you feel like you’ve seen a lot even if you haven’t, because it is such a big part of pop culture and daily life, in college anyway. But are there folks out there just anti-Holy Grail? I’ve always been of the opinion that there are only people who are fans of Monty Python and people who haven’t seen Monty Python – but I could certainly be wrong. Is that unreasonable?

And so Holy Grail ends up an astounding 170 spots ahead of Life of Brian! This is a real shock to me, considering the journey it took to come to this realization. Had I access to 1997 Joe – he of contact lenses and all original teeth – that son of a bitch would be stunned by this revelation, plus the fact that there have been like twelve X-Men movies. 1997 Joe would be surprised by a lot of things about the current world, is what I’m saying.

“He’s what?!? Get the fuck out of here.” – 1997 Joe

Basically award-less in its day, Holy Grail is currently the 107th best film on IMDB, so that’s gotta count for something. It has been included in a number of poll honors over the years from various magazines and outlets, but nowhere have they been acknowledged for their Best Llama-centric Opening Credits. I just realized it’s been a while since I’ve given out these manner of awards in posts – not sure when that fell off. Not sure if it will be back! Don’t hold your breath!

Gilliam joins the directing Four-Timers, the 12th inductee, following #127 Brazil, #163 Fear and Loathing, and #148 The Fisher King, while Palin leads the Pythons into the acting Fours with Life of Brian, Brazil, and #238 A Fish Called Wanda. 

Coming tomorrow! I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me –

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