ALL YOU NEED IS CASH

(1978 - TV)
With Eric Idle ("Dirk"), Neil Innes ("Nasty"), Ricky Fataar ("Stig"), John Halsey ("Barry")
Also featuring: George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Ron Wood, Michael Palin, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray
Directed by Eric Idle, Gary Weiss

Reviewed by JB

Can you name who plays this reporter?     ALL YOU NEED IS CASH may still make me giggle, but even more, it makes me nostalgic.  A classic of its time, Eric Idle's Pythonesque documentary of the fictional pop group The Rutles features two members of Monty Python, half of the then-current cast of Saturday Night Live, two Rolling Stones and one Beatle. Like Woody Allen's ZELIG, it is technically fascinating, with "new" archival footage created in various styles such as newsreel, early color TV video, even a spot-on recreation of the psychedelic animation of YELLOW SUBMARINE.  With all this talent and effort, it's a pity it isn't as funny as I remember it.

     The story of the Rutles ("the PreFab Four") is, of course, the story of the Beatles as filtered through the warped brain of Eric Idle.  From their first album recorded in twenty minutes ("the second took even longer") to their last, LET IT RUT, released as "an album, a movie and a lawsuit", the Rutles - Ron Nasty, Dirk McQuickly, Stig O'Hara and Barry Wom - created a legend "that will last a lunchtime".  The film assumes you already know everything about the real Fab Four, so if you are not a fan of the Beatles, then (a) many of the jokes will fall flat and (b) what's wrong with you?.

     Neil Innes's Beatles-style songs are tuneful, accurate and enjoyable.  A few of them, such as the "Get Back" takeoff "Get Up and Go", caused the filmmakers legal trouble for being too close to the original source. The more successful ones merely take the Beatles sound as their starting point without alluding too much to individual Lennon and McCartney melody lines.  My favorites are "Hold My Hand", which lovingly borrows  bits of "Eight Days a Week", "All My Lovin'","Please Please Me" and other early Beatles hits while still managing, just barely, to avoid copyright infringement, and "I Must Be In Love", which apes the Beatles style but has a completely original and catchy tune and a nifty guitar riff.

     Aside from the songs, there are Eric Idle's visual and verbal gags. Some don't work, some go on too long, and some feel like you've already seen or heard them in half a dozen Monty Python episodes.  But Idle was the most verbally gifted of the Python gang, and nearly all of his one-liners are classic, such as "They were far from home, and far from talented" ; "Chastity, a simple German girl whose father had invented World War Two"; and "His father was so snobby, he wore swimming trunks in the bath to stop him from looking down on the unemployed." 

     Although the film is hit and miss, ALL YOU NEED IS CASH is still a fun "tragical history tour" for Beatle and Python fans. 3 - JB

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