Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980)


Director – Steve Roberts

Producers – Martin Wesson (Executive Producer), Tony Stratton-Smith

Writers – Vivian Stanshall and Steve Roberts

A more exquisitely quirky, quintissentially English film there never has been than Sir Henry at Rawlinson End. The End quivers with delightful antics and charming delights. Sadly the sound quality could do with an overhaul, as a lot of the lines seem to be spoken off mic, unlike the crisp, crystalline, cut glass bark of the original version that Viv Stanshall recorded on the radio with John Peel. Still, the vivacious visuals and parade of peculiarities make for a heady concoction, like Pimms with an extra helping of gin and a soupcon of parrot’s spit on a cool summer’s day. If you go with it, you will embrace and devour some giddy, gorgeous Rawlinson madness.

The disappointing sound quality does distract from the exquisite performances at times, Trevor Howard doing a sterling job as the rambuntious Sir Henry, alongside Patrick Magee as the Reverend Slodden, Viv Stanshall playing the wonderfully exhuberant Hubert, Liz Smith as Lady Phillipa of Staines, and a host of other hatstand mad hatters. Attempts are made to exorcise the ghost of Humbert (Michael Crane), Sir Henry’s dead brother who was accidentally shot after being mistaken for a duck (it all makes sense in the film, sort of).

The mansion gardens come replete with PoW camp for Germans and huge pond in which Hubert fishes for unusual things. Strange incantations and wicker men aplenty beset the attendees, including Aunt Florrie (Sheila Reid), Mrs E. (Denise Coffey), Lord Tarquin of Staines (Ben Aris), Peregrin Maynard (Jeremy Child), all waited upon by the disgruntled and wrinkled family retainer known as Old Scrotum (J.G. Devlin), while strange skullduggery ensues. This is a terrific phantasmagoria of the excesses of the decadent upper classes as they reach their Rawlinson End. Baffling delights!

TL-R

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