In 1979, the comedy partnership of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore was celebrating its twentieth anniversary, so to mark that occasion Cook persuaded Moore to join him on a final bow: a Derek and Clive album and film. Backed by Virgin Records boss Richard Branson, they went into a studio in London to set about improvising their material in the guise of the characters who had recorded underground bootleg tapes, and had become a cult success. With a few props and some unexpected visitors, they settled down at the microphone and began...
For some, Derek and Clive was the perfect conclusion of Cook and Moore's careers, still pushing back the boundaries of humour here, in their final collaboration, putting the boot in to what would become known as political correctness by being as willfully offensive as they possibly could. On the other hand, if you didn't think it was clever to swear, Get the Horn was a rather more depressing end to a partenrship which had produced some of the brightest comedy of their era. One of the highlights of their act had been the Pete and Dud conversations, and in some ways Derek and Clive were Pete and Dud from Hell.
So as they perched on their chairs and began rambling, you shouldn't necessarily expect to be well and truly entertained, especially if you're aware that Cook was harbouring massive amounts of resentment towards Moore, who had become very popular throughout the world - and specifically America - with his big screen comedies, something his erstwhile partner in laughs had never been able to do with any great assurance. Sure, Cook was respected as a master comic by those in the know, but it was mainly on his home turf where he was a star, and the fact that he apparently didn't believe Moore deserved his success informed the humour here.
Don't forget Cook had practically begged Moore to appear in this, yet you would never know it from the manner in which he victimises him throughout this under the thin sheen of supposedly being funny. It's as if Cook was getting him into surroundings where he could say, hah, not so funny now are you? Not when you're operating on my terms! Needless to say Cook was an alcoholic by this time, and if much of the routines here sound like drunken outbursts there's a good reason for that as they both go as far as they can to shock the audience, as if daring one another in new depths of meanminded depravity. Cook "wins". But the question remained, even if you knew the circumstances, was any of it funny?
Well, a sense of humour is a very personal thing, but for most viewers the raging bitterness exhibited in practically every frame will be offputting in the extreme as Cook in particular went off on hate-filled rants, always with the get out clause that he was only joking, but there was evidently an abyss of loathing he was teetering on the edge of throughout. At best the jokes could be described as inappropriate to a scathing degree, and Moore eventually has trouble keeping up with Cook's pitch black imagination, although he shines at the piano even with this unpromising theme. Too much of it, however, descended into a despairing barrage of effing and blinding, the language which got the film banned in the United Kingdom for many years - it was intended for cinema release. Scenes with Cook spitting crisps at Moore or attacking him with a blow up doll will stick in the memory as the overriding sense of a man filled with hatred and trying to bring down his far more balanced companion with him are what most will take away. Moore regretted ever making it, but one suspects Cook was quite pleased.
Australian director with a flashy visual style. A former music video director - most notably for Duran Duran - Mulcahy made an impact in 1984 with his first real film, the Outback creature feature Razorback. 1986's fantasy thriller Highlander was a big cult hit, and its success led to a foray in Hollywood in the 1990s, which included thrillers Ricochet and The Real McCoy, the superhero yarn The Shadow and the sequel Highlander II: The Quickening. Subsequent work has largely been in TV.