The Secret Policeman's Balls [DVD]
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$27.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Introductions and audio commentaries by series co-creator Martin Lewis
  • Long-unavailable sequences from the original U.S. releases
  • Rare promotional TV spots, trailers and news footage
  • Remember the Secret Policeman's Ball? (2004) This feature-length documentary commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1979 Amnesty show chronicles the history of the Secret Policeman's series
  • Ultra-rare comedy and music performances not featured in the original films

Synopsis

Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball
John Cleese and Michael Palin of Monty Python top a bill of popular British comedians in this performance film which documents a 1989 fund-raising concert for the human rights organization Amnesty International. The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball features Cleese and Palin reviving two popular Monty Python's sketches, and a reunion of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, making their first live appearance together since the 1970's. Also appearing are Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders (respectively the stars of The Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous), Adrian Edmonton (of The Young Ones), the puppet troupe Spitting Image, Lenny Henry, Robbie Coltrane, Ben Elton, John Bird and many more. Former Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland and classical guitarist John Williams provide musical interludes. The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball was the last in the series of Amnesty International fundraising concerts until the name was revived by comic and actor Eddie Izzard for a performance and concert film in 2006. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

The Secret Policeman's Ball
Some of the biggest and brightest stars in British comedy appear in this performance film, which documents a revue staged by John Cleese of Monty Python as a benefit for the human rights group Amnesty International. In addition to Cleese and fellow Python members Michael Palin and Terry Jones (who reprise skits from the Python show as well as its lesser-known predecessor At Last The 1948 Show), The Secret Policeman's Ball includes sketches featuring Rowan Atkinson (shortly before his breakthrough success on the UK television series Not The Nine O'Clock News), Peter Cook (who performs classic material from the show Beyond The Fringe), Eleanor Bron, Clive James and The Kevin Campbell Road Show. The show also includes acoustic musical performances from Pete Townshend of the Who, classical guitarist John Williams (who joins Townshend for a version of "Won't Get Fooled Again") and activist singer/songwriter Tom Robinson. The Secret Policeman's Ball was the third in a series of benefits shows organized by Cleese for Amnesty International, and the name was recycled for several filmed stage shows that followed. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Pleasure at Her Majesty's
In 1976, a member of the office staff at the London offices of Amnesty International, a global human rights watchdog group, discovered they'd received a donation from one "J. Cleese" and discovered he was John Cleese, one of the founding members of the Monty Python comedy troupe. Amnesty representatives approached Cleese and asked if he would be interested in staging a fundraiser for the organization, and Cleese agreed to put together a show to raise both money and awareness for Amnesty. The show, which Cleese dubbed A Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick), soon became a summit meeting of some of the most influential acts in British comedy. The cast included Cleese and the other members of the Python group (minus Eric Idle, who had other commitments); Peter Cook, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller from the internationally successful revue Beyond The Fringe; Barry Humphries, better known as Dame Edna Everage; Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor from the television series The Goodies; Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Band; John Fortune and Eleanor Bron, and more. A camera crew was on hand to capture comedy history being made, and Pleasure At Her Majesty's documents the rehearsals and preparation for A Poke In The Eye, the often frantic scene backstage, and the show as it was seen by the audience. The title Pleasure At Her Majesty's was a pun based on the show's venue (Her Majesty's Theatre in London) and the phrase "at the pleasure of Her Majesty," a British euphemism for being held by the police. It was the first of many comedy benefits for Amnesty International, several of which were filmed and distributed as part of the Secret Policeman's Ball series. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Secret Policeman's Third Ball
Music and comedy share the stage in this performance film, which records a four-night variety show presented in 1987 as a benefit for the human rights organization Amnesty International. A handful of top British comedians were on hand for the revue, including Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, Lenny Henry, Ben Elton and Phil Cool, with special appearances by John Cleese of Monty Python and the puppet troupe Spitting Image. (American comic Emo Phillips also performs his standup act.) Several leading musical stars of the day also contributed their talents to the event, including Peter Gabriel, Duran Duran, Kate Bush with David Gilmour, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne with Paul Brady, Mark Knopfler with Chet Atkins, Bob Geldoff, Youssou N'Dour and Nik Kershaw. As the title suggests, The Secret Policeman's Third Ball was preceded by two other Amnesty International benefit shows coordinated by John Cleese, with several more to follow. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

The Secret Policeman's Other Ball
The highlights of two benefit concerts staged in support of Amnesty International are collected in this British performance film, which features ample helpings of both music and comedy. The members of the Monty Python comedy troupe serve as headliners, performing live variations on some of their most famous sketches. Additional humor is provided by such luminaries as Peter Cook, while the musical segments include performances by Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, and Sting, amongst others. While all of the performers deliver the goods, the film's overall effectiveness is unfortunately limited by the purely functional direction and often poor image quality. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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