The eighties: Ealing regained
in Charles Crichton
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Chapter 10, the final chapter of the book, covers Charles Crichton’s work in the eighties and beyond. The focus of the chapter is A Fish Called Wanda (1987), the international success that was Crichton’s first feature film for twenty-three years and the last of his career. John Cleese was the prime mover for the project, writing the script, starring and assembling much of the team. His confidence in Crichton, who by this point had made a number of short films for Cleese’s Video Arts company, was crucial to securing studio approval for the septuagenarian director’s involvement. The result was a triumph, with almost exclusively positive reviews and a top spot at the US box office. Awards followed, with Kevin Kline receiving the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Crichton and Cleese being nominated for best director and screenplay. Crichton hoped to direct the sequel, but delays meant filming did not start until 1995, by which point he was eighty-four years old. He spent the final years of his life directing shorts for Video Arts, though he also collaborated with screenwriting guru Robert McKee on an ill-fated screen adaptation of Noel Coward play Hay Fever.

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