As Thatcher’s 80s ground to their inexorable conclusion, a little independent film came out called Withnail and I. As for all independent films, it was nearly not made at all. George Harrison’s Handmade Films picked it up after he read the script on a plane to America, and the rest is history. It launched the career of Richard E. Grant and finally proved that its writer and director, Bruce Robinson, was better behind the camera than in front. (McGann’s career had already found its feet, the McGann brothers being a small acting legend in the UK.) [ . . . ]
he character of Withnail, played by Richard E Grant, in the seminal movie classic Withnail And I, was based on a man called Vivian MacKerrell, with whom the movie’s writer and director Bruce Robinson once shared a flat.Grant never met MacKerrell – he was discouraged from doing so by Robinson. MacKerrell died over twenty years ago and tonight [ . . . ]
Driving towards the Herefordshire home of writer and director Bruce Robinson was already proving something of an ordeal. Here I was, about to interview the creator of what must be the UK’s and possibly the world’s most iconically cool film, Withnail and I, and I was driving a non-descript VW Polo and feeling distinctly sober. Of course, I should have been in a clapped out 1960s Jag, dragging on a Gauloise and recklessly swigging from a bottle of Haut Brion while listening to Hendrix [ . . . ]
Withnail and I is a melancholic masterpiece and one of the funniest British films ever made.
Withnail and I is a melancholic masterpiece and one of the funniest British films ever made. For its one-liners alone Bruce Robinson’s sweary caper is rightly regarded as a classic: “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake”. “Don’t threaten me with a dead fish”. “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now”. These droll zingers are fired off at such a clip, multiple viewings are required to savour them in their full glory. [ . . . ]