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Films: R is for...


This second John Cleese/Graham Chapman offering for David Frost’s Paradine Productions knocked its predecessor The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer’s satirical inclinations firmly on the head, this was out-and-out farce (or at least it did after Ned Sherrin and pals had got their hands on it), with the plot mixing the story of a hapless ‘tec (Richard Beckinsale) spying on an adulterous Richard Briers, and getting mixed up in a Japanese plot to steal a deadly new nerve gas from Donald Sinden’s chemical plant. The usual high quota of stars, all no doubt personally cajoled into this mess by Frostie himself, duly lined up to take part in frankly offensive scenes such as a bizarre Chinese world domination scheme, and the moment where Ronald Fraser’s racist major tries to drown Derek Griffiths by filling the cab of his removals lorry with petrol. When an admittedly storming opening theme re-imagining of “A Policeman’s Lot” by Dave Dee and the Kings’ Singers is the high point of your film, perhaps it’s time to have a look elsewhere for projects.



  1. Lee James Turnock

    September 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Absolutely, mesmerizingly awful, and not helped one bit by an admittedly eclectic cast.

  2. Applemask

    June 19, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Not a pornographic take on Rentaghost, sadly.

  3. THX 1139

    June 19, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    “Sadly”?! There used to be a Rentaghost slash fiction story on the internet, which was a joke about fifteen years ago, but I worry what might be out there now.

  4. Tom Ronson

    May 23, 2022 at 1:14 am

    John Cleese has mentioned this a few times in interviews, and it began life as a screenplay he’d cowritten with Graham Chapman called Piglust and Company, which was intended as a vehicle for the whole Oxbridge / Frost Report / Paradine Productions set – your Pythons, your Goodies, Marty Feldman, Barry Cryer, the Two Ronnies and so on. David Frost loved the screenplay and intended to bankroll it himself – under the title Rentasleuth – before going cold on the idea and selling it to Ned Sherrin, who was producing films at the time (Up Pompeii, The Virgin Soldiers, The Alf Garnett Saga) and decided to turn it into an all-star knockabout farce, changing the title to the smuttier Rentadick, much to the displeasure of Cleese. It’s very telling that the film doesn’t credit a screenwriter, apart from ‘additional dialogue by John Fortune and John Bird.’ In his autobiography, Cleese describes Sherrin as tasteless, slimy, incompetent, and treacherous.

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