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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), directed by Richard Lester.

I vaguely remembered this as a wacky musical sex farce with togas and was going to skip it, but then remembered it was directed by Richard Lester, who I have been enjoying in recent years. This is a case where being aware of the director increases my enjoyment of a film: his little touches and parallels with other movies. This one is closest to the wilder bits in his later The Three Musketeers (1973).

I did like it this time, for what it is. The sex comedy of slave girls is obviously from a previous era. I give it points for colorful production design; the costumes look better than any Roman setup until the Rome (2005) TV series. In earlier decades movie Romans always dressed in white, looking like marble statues.

Sometimes while watching it I thought I had wandered into a movie version of The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare's early Roman farce. The reason for that: both were borrowed from the Roman comic playwright Plautus. The public domain is a wonderful thing.

From a stage musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Photographed by Nicolas Roeg, who had just been fired from Doctor Zhivago (1965) and came straight to this movie. Filmed in Madrid.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino.