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Ghost Canyon

'The Bed Sitting Room'
(Ralph Richardson, Peter Cook, Spike Milligan, Michael Hordern, Roy Kinnear, Arthur Lowe, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (1969) 2011 / Warner Bros. Archive Collection)

Overview: 'The Bed Sitting Room' is set in post-nuclear-holocaust England, where a handful of bizarre characters struggle on with their lives in the ruins, amongst endless heaps of ash, piles of broken crockery and brick, muddy plains, and heaps of dentures and old boots.

DVD Verdict: I watched this film twice in one sitting and was thrilled and moved by it. It is visionary, hugely funny and strangely gentle. You get the impression that the long list of stars all know they're taking part in something unique and timeless. Like a fusion of Dylan Thomas and Samuel Beckett, it stands up to both with great integrity and real wit. Sadly, most of those taking part are now dead.

People of all classes from Lord to lunatic try through activities and language to cling to a civilization represented by heaps of objects. The horrors of holocaust are tempered by humour arising mainly from the ridiculous pretensions of the cast. Every mainstay of British middle and upper class culture has been made absurd - some of the characters are busy mutating into absurd objects - a bed sitting room, a wardrobe, a parrot.

The humour is zany, the one-liners often mixing double entendre, understatement and naievity with real pathos. Arthur Lowe as the pompous father, Mona Washbourne as the all-sympathetic mother can bring a lump to the throat.

The nearest rival to Milligan's and Antrobus' satire is to be found in Swift. Lampooning society after it has endured the very worst of tragedies and demonstrating through a torrent of absurdities, that human decency survives is something difficult to sustain in text, but this Fellini-like panorama could never be contained by the pages of a book. It almost defines one of the things which film can do best.

Another twisted element to this film is that it is never explicitly stated who started the war, and who the British were fighting. It was, however, supposedly the shortest war in history! (FYI - This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media.) This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Warner Archive Collection