Tony Whitehead
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‘Laughter – tears – curtain’
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This chapter illustrates that with the film Topsy-Turvy. Mike Leigh emerged from the closet, firmly declaring his long-standing delight in the comic operas of librettist William Schwenck Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. The emergence was a spectacular one given both the film's unusually lavish production values and the highly positive reaction to it. In America Topsy-Turvy was named the Year's Best Picture by both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. It also marked a breakthrough for Leigh in that it was the first film he made that had no television money in it at all, in any shape or form. This film had been Leigh's most purely pleasurable film since Life Is Sweet, it is a scrupulous, vibrant celebration of the theatre, of theatre folk in general, and of these two men of the theatre and their associates in particular.

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