Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Bed Sitting Room (1969) With Peter Cook And Dudley Moore

Equal parts sentimental and surreal, absurd and moral, 1969's The Bed Sitting Room from director Richard Lester is a sort of weird masterpiece. Given the nearly plot-free nature of the film, and the setting of a landscape of rubbish in the aftermath of World War 3, the film is hard to embrace.

However, it is a product of its time and, as such, probably required viewing for fans of 1960s British cinema.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore are police officers scouring the British countryside outside London in their balloon-powered flying police car.

Arthur Lowe, from TV hit "Dad's Army" and cinema's No Sex Please, We're British (1973), leads his family from the safety of their home in an abandoned London Tube car to the decimated landscape around London. Daughter Rita Tushingham is pregnant but still fancied by lad Richard Warwick, while mother Mona Washbourne seems to be unduly optimistic and possibly oblivious to the destruction around her.

After being treated by nurse Marty Feldman, Lord Fortnum (Ralph Richardson) wanders Lear-like across the landscape in search of medical assistance as he seems to think he's about to turn into the bed sitting room of the title.

Michael Hordern meets various strangers in the post-nuclear war landscape, including everyman Spike Milligan and the BBC (Frank Thornton): a guy who pops up inside abandoned television set casings.

The film seems to hit its absurdist peak when Mona Washbourne, who has turned into chest of drawers, is placed inside the bed sitting room of the title, that bed sitting room really the former Lord Fortnum who has somehow morphed due to the radiation.

I can't say that I entirely enjoyed The Bed Sitting Room (1969) -- maybe I was expecting something closer to Bedazzled (1967)? -- but as a film fan I am grateful that it's now available on DVD.

The BFI DVD is typically superb, with the film presented in a very clean anamorphic print. The extras include a total of 90 minutes of 3 interview segments from 1967 with Richard Lester, Spike Milligan, and Peter Cook.

You can buy Richard Lester's The Bed Sitting Room (1969) on DVD from