Newest Reviews
ReZort, The
Julie Darling
Astro-Zombies, The
Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
Notes on Blindness
Black Widow
Wizard, The
Odds Against Tomorrow
End of the Tour, The
Greasy Strangler, The
Electric Horseman, The
White Palace
Pool of London
13 Hours
Two Women
Soft for Digging
Man and a Woman, A
Keeping Room, The
Whale of a Tale, A
Atomic Submarine, The
Starry, Starry Night
Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails
Oil City Confidential
Love Has Many Faces
Paco and the Magical Book
Newest Articles
Queens of Women: Five Cult Stars, Five Cult Films
Abstract Strategies: The Brothers Quay on Blu-ray
Born to be Cad: George Sanders and Psychomania
Speed Kills: The History of Fast Zombies
Skeleton Crew: The Blind Dead Movies
The Stars Are Out Tonight: Hollywood Celebrity Casts in the 70s
Super-Irreverent: Deadpool and his Amazing Friends
Made in Britain: Alan Clarke at the BBC
Manor On Movies: Saucy Sexy Spicy Space Sirens
Whicker Ask It: Whicker's World on DVD
  Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, The Funny PeopleBuy this film here.
Year: 1959
Director: Richard Lester, Peter Sellers
Stars: Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Richard Lester, Mario Fabrizi, David Lodge, Leo McKern, Graham Stark, Bruce Lacey, Norman Rossington
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A man with a telescope (Leo McKern) is out standing in his field when he spots a washerwoman hard at work cleaning the grass. When she's finished with that region a camper (Spike Milligan) appears and wipes his feet on a welcome mat then sets about pitching his tent, but he won't get the peace and quiet he wanted: this location is a magnet for mayhem, including a method of proving man can fly... a kite.

It might look like a fluffy little item of ephemera now, but The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film does have a history behind it, and in its way proved one of the more influential examples of British nonsense comedy to emerge from the long shadow of the Goons. That legendary team were not simply radio stars, although that is where they were most celebrated, but they did make forays into the small screen as well as the big, and this was a result of a spare Sunday which saw Goons Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan experimenting with their humour in visual terms rather than the aural they had made their mark with.

On television, their handful of series episodes there had been directed by Richard Lester, an American who had big plans and was making his start in British TV, mostly in the humour side of things. He was recruited in 1959, just as Sellers' film career was taking off, to assist with direction on this, basically a series of silly sketches which in theory paid tribute to the silent classics of old, the sort of comedian like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton who were much admired by these talents. The results still have the power to raise a laugh, and some of it is quite inspired in its unadorned fashion: Bruce Lacey playing a record by running round it with a needle attached to a funnel being one of the more famous images.

Yet for some reason this essentially amateur footage, which would be a glorified home movie if it had not featured these well known faces - it was shot on Sellers' personal 16mm camera with sound and music added later by Lester - went on to be one of the more enduring works associated with the comedy of its nation. Maybe it was because it offered a handy way to fill a ten minute gap for television schedulers, or for cinemas to make up a short subject by way of introduction to the main feature, usually on a similar tack, but a surprising number of people have seen this and found it staying in the memory for its peculiar atmosphere. Monty Python's Flying Circus is a name which gets mentioned seemingly every time this arises (the beckoning hand and its punchline is very Pythonesque), but taken on its own terms it was both oddly innocent and singlemindedly lunatic, nothing hugely ambitious but with a purity about it conjured up from that English field in the late nineteen-fifties where by amusing themselves this bunch amused millions.

[This is available in The Lacey Rituals, the BFI's double disc collection of short films connected to Bruce Lacey, whether as performer, designer, director or otherwise.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 987 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Richard Lester  (1932 - )

American director, from television, in Britain whose initially zany style could give way to genuine suspense and emotion. After making his film debut with short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, which featured Goons Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, he went on to throwaway projects like It's Trad, Dad and Mouse on the Moon. His next, however, was a smash hit all over the world: A Hard Day's Night, not least because it had The Beatles as stars.

Lester was at his most successful in the sixties and early seventies, with notable movies like The Knack, Beatles follow up Help!, stage adaptation A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, satire How I Won the War, romance Petulia, weird comedy The Bed Sitting Room, The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers and very British disaster movie Juggernaut.

Efforts like Royal Flash, Robin and Marian, gay bathhouse comedy The Ritz and Cuba made less impact, but in the eighties Lester was called in to salvage the Superman series after Richard Donner walked off Superman II; Lester also directed Superman III. Finders Keepers was a flop comedy, and Return of the Musketeers had a tragic development when one of his regular cast, Roy Kinnear, died while filming. Lester then decided to give up directing, with Paul McCartney concert Get Back his last film.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme music?
Superman: The Movie
The Dark Knight
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three ('74)
Star Wars
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Great Escape
The Ipcress File
The Magnificent Seven
Back to the Future

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Don Emmott
Andrew Pragasam
David Dent
  Arvinder Seehra
  John Kelly
  Karl Weston


Last Updated: