Tag Archives: Diana Rigg

The Set of 400: #51 – My Favorite Champagne Improvement

Today! Because I wish I were you people seeing this for the first time –

The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

Directed by Jim Henson

Starring Jim Henson (x2), Frank Oz (x9), Jerry Nelson (x5), Dave Goelz (x5), Richard Hunt (x2), Charles Grodin (x2), Diana Rigg (x2), Jack Warden (x4), John Cleese (x4), Peter Ustinov (x2), Peter Falk (x5), Robert Morley, Steve Whitmire (x5), Louise Gold (x3), Caroll Spinney, Erica Creer, Kate Howard, Della Finch

The second feature Muppet film and the first released after The Muppet Show ended, The Great Muppet Caper had a higher degree of difficulty than any other film in the series, before or since. Figure, it’s the only non-adaptation film that doesn’t in some way incorporate putting on a show or show business as the backdrop (Muppets From Space is the only other one close, and that has a lot of Piggy’s aspiring journalism career at center). So they’ve crammed the familiar characters into oddball new roles – weirdly, again, journalism, but of the print variety, plus hotel management – albeit with their same names, and more fourth wall breaking than any other movie to explain this conceit. It had only been two years since the smash hit original Muppet Movie, and they didn’t have terrific Paul Williams songs to eat up a bunch of the run time (Muppet Caper‘s songs are still great, though). This one needed tons of jokes and cameos and a strong narrative to succeed, and it came through on all counts.

As a kid, I probably liked this Muppet outing best, or had it in a very close contest with Takes Manhattan. It’s a lot sillier than the original film, but still keeps the gang largely together unlike Manhattan. The England setting produces a bunch of fun gags (like The Muppet Show, Muppet Caper was filmed in and near London) and it features the most action packed finale of the franchise – a sequence not even attempted to be equaled by any successive movie until Most Wanted – which largely functioned as the Muppet Caper to 2011’s Muppets as Muppet Movie. Does that makes sense? I didn’t get to talk about Most Wanted on this list because it missed the cut off date, but I’m afraid people skipped it, as it got lost in theaters. Go watch Muppets Most Wanted, it’s pretty fun.

It’s the Kermit-goes-to-a-Siberian-prison-camp-run-by-Tina-Fey film you never knew you needed

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The Set of 400: #187 – My Favorite Inpatient Assignation

Today! Because I am the fool for Christ, and the Paraclete of Caborca, the Wrath of the Lamb, the Angel of the Bottomless Pit –

The Hospital (1971)

Directed by Arthur Hiller

Starring George C. Scott (x2), Diana Rigg, Richard Dysart (x2), Barnard Hughes, Andrew Duncan (x2), Nancy Marchand (x2), Jordan Charney, Roberts Blossom, Katherine Helmond, Frances Sternhagen, Robert Walden, Stockard Channing (x2), Lenny Baker, Donald Harron

A black comedy of the highest order, The Hospital is Paddy Chayefsky’s healthcare takedown precursor to dismantling television news five years later in Network. George C. Scott – in his second list film from 1971 in the last two weeks! – plays chief of medicine Dr. Bock who’s deeply sunk in his midlife crisis, marriage ruined, career malaise, while his hospital goes through an epic administrative, public, and lethal meltdown, with protests breaking out constantly over the hospital acquiring-to-demolish nearby slums, patients getting lost, misdiagnosed, and accidentally killed, and doctors being actively hunted by a faceless murderer. There’s also an Indian shaman and an overzealous billing supervisor in the mix. And this all takes place in about a 72 hour span. Continue reading

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