MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.
The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer (1970, 100 minutes)
Set squarely in the golden age of British television and film satire, or maybe it was the copper age. Or possibly zinc? One of those, for sure … The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer falls in between Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers, two side-splitting TV shows that featured, among others, the comic genius of John Cleese. He’s that gangly fellow over there whose gait is a mixture of the Nazi goose-step and the gravity-defying amble of the common stick-bug and whose demeanor is that of someone eager to please. Perhaps too eager.
Although Cleese did write Michael Rimmer, the movie actually stars his co-writer (and Beyond The Fringe member), Peter Cook, as Michael Rimmer, the new hire of a small, under-performing London advertising agency. Well, not really a “hire,” as such. Rimmer appears one morning at the firm’s front desk with clipboard and stop-watch in hand, and follows the fellow in front of him upstairs into the office. He watches as the man in front punches Mr. Ferret (Arthur Lowe) in the nose. “Just cancelling our contract,” says the puncher, smiling at Rimmer.
For the rest of the day, Rimmer follows the firm’s employees around, making notations on his clipboard while uttering pleased sounds like “A ha,” and “Ah, yes.” Mr. Federman (Dudley Foster) is speaking on the telephone as Rimmer enters his office. “Read those figures back again, will you?” he says, a piece of chalk in hand to transfer the data to a blackboard on the wall. “That’s two pounds on Lively Lady to win and a fiver on The Groper.” Startled by Rimmer, Federman turns around and says, “And who are you?” “Rimmer, coordination,” answers Rimmer, smiling.
Rimmer interrupts Mr. Pumer (Cleese), a large number “15″ scrawled on his back, practicing the tango to “Hernando’s Hideaway” for an upcoming dance contest with his wife. “It’s my coffee break,” says Pumer weakly. “And I don’t actually drink coffee.” Rimmer watches as Ferret gropes the thigh of Tanya, one of the office’s mini-skirted female employees, as she’s reaching for something at the top of a ladder.
Rimmer even strolls into the office loo and takes notes as Pumer unzips and stands nervously in front of a urinal, all the time looking over his shoulder. Pulling a towel from the dispenser, Pumer brings the entire apparatus crashing to the floor. Federman enters and pops into one of the stalls. He spends about 10 seconds inside before flushing, smiling at Rimmer, then quickly departing the lavatory after forgetting to wash his hands—as documented on the clipboard. “If it’s all right by you, sir, I’ll take the empty office next door,” says Rimmer to Ferret at the end of the day. “Oh, good, yes,” replies Ferret. “Look, tell you what, why don’t you take it over?”