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The Rutles: All You Need is Cash

Year: 1978
Production Co: Above Average Productions
Director: Eric Idle/Gary Weis
Writer: Eric Idle
Cast: Eric Idle, Michael Palin, John Halsey, Ricky Fataar, Neil Innes, Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Ronnie Wood, Paul Simon, Lorne Michaels

It's easy to forget how innovative The Rutles: All You Need is Cash probably was in the late 1970s. Christopher Guest and the rest of the mockumentary movement was years off, and although I have no idea how well received it was at the time, it was probably a very new experience for people who saw it the first time around (British TV audiences).

The product only of Eric Idle's rather than Monty Python collectively, it nevertheless contains all the hallmarks of the humour he and the Python team established and perfected, from the scripted gags 'we went to the American South to see how expensive it is to make these documentaries' to the absurdist visual humour, like when the camera starts moving away from the presenter (Idle) faster and faster until he's in a full on sprint to keep up with it and keep delivering his report.

Barry, Dirk, Stig and Nasty are the prefab four, lads from Liverpool who take the rock and roll world by storm, and The Rutles promises to lift the lid on their success and the forces that drove them.

It takes all the famous cues from the rise and fall of The Beatles and comically spins them. The Narrator visits the Hamburg pub they spent their formative performing years in, the RatKellar – literally a cellar full of rats. Famous faces like Mick Jagger show up to talk about the band's legacy, and it all ends in a quagmire that couldn't be more Pythonesque.

In one instance the company press agent, played by Michael Palin, is being interviewed outside the band's corporate headquarters about how well-managed the company is going while people run in and out of the building behind him filching equipment and stationery. In another the narrator talks about how everybody starts suing everybody to such an extent one of the Rutles accidentally sues himself.

I was never interested in watching it when I had the chance in years past, and now I look back I'm not sure why. Maybe because I realised it wasn't the full Python creative brains trust behind it, maybe because I was never a Beatles fan and just didn't think I'd be interested. But if you're a Python fan, it's at least one of their number (Idle) in full swing with what they always did best.

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