Judged unfilmable for over a decade (Luis Buñuel was trying to set it up for years), writer Evelyn Waugh’s spot-on satire of Southern California—specifically the funeral business—was finally brought to the screen in the mid-Sixties by director Tony Richardson (Tom Jones) with a screenplay by Terry Southern (Candy, Easy Rider) and Christopher Isherwood. Robert Morse, a British youth visiting his uncle (John Gielgud) in Los Angeles encounters the weird world of tinseltown’s mortuary subculture, embodied by twins Henry and Reverend Wilbur Glenworthy (Jonathan Winters in a dual role), embalmer Mr. Joyboy (Rod Steiger) and his beautiful apprentice, Aimee Thanatogenous (Anjanette Comer). Marketed as “the motion picture with something to offend everyone!”, this is an achingly funny pitch black comedy that could only have been released in the anything-goes era of the 1960s. With Liberace, Paul Williams, Dana Andrews.
Directed by Tony Richardson • Written by Evelyn Waugh
with additional writing credits to Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood
1965, USA • 122 mins. • 35mm • Black and White