A Private Function (1984)

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Released 29-May-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 92:03
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Malcolm Mowbray

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Michael Palin
Maggie Smith
Denholm Elliott
Richard Griffiths
Tony Haygarth
John Normington
Bill Paterson
Liz Smith
Alison Steadman
Jim Carter
Pete Postlethwaite
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music John Du Prez

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     I am a big fan of all things Monty Python and therefore decided to take a look at this obscure project starring my favourite Python member, Michael Palin. It was made in 1984 and won three Bafta Awards for acting being Best Actress for Maggie Smith, Best Supporting Actor for Denholm Elliott & Best Supporting Actress for Liz Smith. It was also nominated for Best Film and Best Screenplay. All I can say is it must have been a slow year at the Baftas that year. If they were renamed to the Baffling awards then it might make some sense.

    Despite really liking comedy on the strange side and loving most English comedy this film left me completely cold. The biggest problem is that the film does a very bad job of introducing its context (Yorkshire 1947 during the height of rationing) and an even worse job of introducing its characters and their relationships. This leaves you scratching your head for the first 15 or more minutes trying to work out where the hell you are and who the hell these people are. To some degree this may be a question of time and place, Britain in 1984 would have a better recollection of Britain in 1947 than Australia in 2009 would, however, it is certainly not limited to this.

   Anyway, the story involves the impending Royal Wedding and a planned celebratory dinner in whatever this town is in Yorkshire. Due to rationing, in order to have a decent meal for this 'Private Function' the organisers including Dr Swabey (Denholm Elliott) have decided to fatten up an illegal and unregistered pig for the main course. Meanwhile chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers (Michael Palin) is moving from house to house treating people's feet, dreaming of opening a surgery in the high street. He unwittingly becomes involved in the plot as he stumbles across various preparations being made. Once he works out where the pig is and tells his social climber wife (Maggie Smith) he is suddenly compelled to steal the pig and do a bit of home butchery. His wife's dotty mother (Liz Smith) does not help the situation. Naturally, the local meat ration inspector is hovering. Many other well known English faces appear including Pete Postlethwaite, Richard Griffiths, Alison Steadman and Jim Carter.

    I really wish I could recommend this film and tell you about another great English comedy but I can't. It is confusing and decidedly unfunny.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is average but not as bad as the audio.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture was not overly sharp and clear but was not terrible. Shadow detail is average. There is some fairly obvious grain throughout.

    The colour was decent considering the age of the film but certainly not vibrant.

    There were regular white and occasional black film artefacts throughout..

    There are no subtitles.

    There is no layer change in the feature.


Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is poor and significantly affects your ability to enjoy the film.

    This DVD contains one audio options, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. The sound is generally muddy and lacking in clarity. It is also badly mixed with the dialogue being drowned out by other sounds.

    Dialogue was very hard to make out in most scenes. There was also some occasional sibilance

    The music by John Du Prez is mostly unmemorable but occasionally overbearing.

    The surround speakers were not used.

    The subwoofer was not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There is nothing not even a menu. The feature starts when you insert the disc and at the end it plays a rolling 20 seconds or so of black until you pop the disc out.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release is very similar to ours but does seem to have a menu. The Region 2 version includes a commentary, bios and film notes making it the best one available.


    A confused and unfunny English comedy

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is poor.

    Nothing in the extras department not even a menu.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, August 03, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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