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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 16 October 1966 (USA)
Trailer
1:18 | Trailer
A wily slave must unite a virgin courtesan and his young smitten master to earn his freedom.

Director:

Richard Lester

Writers:

Melvin Frank (screenplay), Michael Pertwee (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Zero Mostel ... Pseudolus
Phil Silvers ... Marcus Lycus
Buster Keaton ... Erronius
Michael Crawford ... Hero
Jack Gilford ... Hysterium
Annette Andre ... Philia
Michael Hordern ... Senex
Leon Greene ... Captain Miles Gloriosus
Roy Kinnear ... Gladiator Instructor
Alfie Bass ... Gatekeeper
John Bluthal ... Roman Chief Guard
Pamela Brown ... High Priestess
Patricia Jessel ... Domina
Beatrix Lehmann ... Domina's Mother
Frank Thornton ... Roman Sentry
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Storyline

Pseudolus (Zero Mostel) is the laziest slave in Rome, and has one wish, to purchase his freedom. When his master and mistress leave for the day, he finds out that the young master has fallen in love with a virgin in the house of Marcus Lycus (Phil Silvers), a slave dealer specializing in beautiful women. Pseudolus concocts a deal in which he will be freed if he can procure the girl for young Hero (Michael Crawford). Of course, it can't be that simple as everything begins to go wrong. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Something for Everyone!

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Toll trieben es die alten Römer See more »

Filming Locations:

Madrid, Spain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" opened at the Alvin Theater on May 1, 1962, ran for nine hundred sixty-four performances and won the 1963 Tony Awards for the Best Musical and Best Book. See more »

Goofs

In the middle of "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid," Pseudolus mouths the words, "giving out," but it's Senex's voice we hear. See more »

Quotes

Pseudolus: [Speaking of the girl Hero says he loves] A common courtesan in the house of Lycus?
Hero: Is that disgraceful?
Pseudolus: There's no way to make it sound like an achievement!
See more »

Crazy Credits

One fresco depicts a Roman orgy, but one character raises the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) seal in protest. In the 1960s the MPAA developed a film rating system to judge whether a film's content was too offensive/adult for audiences. See more »


Soundtracks

Lovely
(reprise)
Written by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Good and the Bad
15 April 2006 | by BroadwayBookwormSee all my reviews

I saw this film when I was a young girl (seven or so) and I adored it. When I was about fourteen, I finally got to see the stage production. When I saw the film again, I realized there were some bad choices made. I think the film has many excellent points and some bad points:

Good:

-For starters, you couldn't have asked for a better cast. I don't just mean Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford (though both are incredible) but casting Buster Keaton was inspired.

-Very accurate portrayal of ancient Rome (up to a point, of course). The only reason I bring it up is because when I took Latin in high school, we studied ancient Rome and I like the research that went into that for the film.

-The chase scene at the end. That's what I remember laughing at the most as a child.

Bad:

-Cutting so many songs, specifically "Free" and Hysterium's number (I must say, Jack Gilford was highly underused in this film).

-The direction of most remaining musical numbers and some scenes.

-Changing the character of Dominia. I don't mind it too much (she does get some good lines in there) but I liked having another strong female character aside from Philia.

Now I have nothing against Richard Lester. In fact, I enjoyed his work in A Hard Day's Night and Help! and I think when it comes to those types of films, he does well. I'm just not completely sure if he was right for this film. He treated the songs like music videos, kind of forgetting that in this case, the songs are being used to tell a story, not just for entertainment. We recently watched parts of the film in my Musical Theater History class, and that was one of the point brought up. He tended toward the fast pace/quick edit direction, which I think worked for "Comedy Tonight", but not much else (especially not "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid"). While I disliked some of his direction on "Lovely", I did like that he repeated (more or less) the same direction in the reprise of the song.

I will say, though, when he's good in the film, he's really good. I can't deny there are parts in the film that are incredibly funny, most notably the chariot chase. I am a bit torn about the film. In the long run, I will probably always love the film and watch it when I get the chance, despite its shortcomings. Still, I wouldn't mind a remake of it. And I think we can safely say this isn't the worst film version of a Sondheim show (A Little Night Music anyone?).


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