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Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum [Blu-ray] (1966)

Zero Mostel , Buster Keaton , Richard Lester  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)

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"Out of the Past" Available on Blu-ray
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames. Shop now

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Product Details

  • Actors: Zero Mostel, Buster Keaton, Phil Silver, Michael Crawford, Jack Gildord
  • Directors: Richard Lester
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,415 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Something appealing. Something appalling. Something for everyone a comedy tonight! "One of the hottest burlesque shows that ever hit Broadway" (Time) comes to the screen showcasing the enormous talents of Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford, Buster Keaton and Michael Crawford (Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera). Featuring keenly clever tunes like "Comedy Tonight" and "Lovely," this wild Stephen Sondheim musical about a raucous gaggle of ancient Romans is a "flip, glib and sophisticated, yet rump-slapping bawdy and fast-paced look at the seamy underside of classical Rome through hipster's shades" (Variety). When a wily, witty, lying, lazy, cheating slave discovers that his master's son is in love with the girl next door; a virgin courtesan, he promises to help win her heart in exchange for his freedom. But the road to romance is blocked with stunning surprises, cunning disguises and the wildest chariot race ever!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Better Than I Remembered It To Be April 8, 2003
Great fun musical comedy loosely based on T. Maccius Plautus' 2nd century B.C. comedy "Miles Gloriosus" ("Braggart Warrior").
The widescreen format lets you see pratfalls and edge-of-scene antics that are missing in the pan and scan version. Zero Mostel was a comic genius; it's a pity that he didn't leave us more movies to enjoy. Michael Hordern is superb as Senex, as are Jack Gilford and Phil Silvers as Hysterium and Lycus. When I was a child I didn't enjoy the musical numbers, I remember fast- forwarding through to get back to the comedy. I now appreciate the songs as well; they are genuinely funny and full of double-entendres that you have to hear repeatedly to fully enjoy. The entire movie, despite its classical setting, has a swinging-sixties feel that you'll have to watch a Rat Pack film to match. You almost expect Frank Sinatra to walk into a scene, singing a song in between drags on his cigarette.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD - Hilarious Movie August 16, 2004
Not having seen the play, I am able to enjoy the film without comparison to other formats. It is hilarious, frantic and a perfect example of Richard Lester's early work.

The DVD transfer is crisp and colorful with very clear audio - way better than the version shown on TCM. Artifacting is barely existent. The transfer is anamorphic widescreen though the description provided by Amazon does not note this.

For a good, though bawdy, burlesque played broadly and strictly for laughs, you can't go wrong.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something appealing,something appalling!! January 6, 2003
By ellafan
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you cherish the memories of Zero,Phil,Jack,and must get this very funny and very well-presented DVD.It's a great mixture of slapstick;burlesque;hamming it up for the camera;and silliness that makes you long for the days when these wonderful ,almost obscenely talented, and always hilarious men were making movies.It's a delight.Hopefully,if this is your first exposure to the likes of these fellas,you will be compelled to investigate more of their screen work.One of my friends who watched the movie with me when I received it commented that "they surely had a ball making this movie,didn't they?" That's what you'll have when you watch it! I really miss these guys.If you don't laugh out loud as Zero plays the "soothsayer," check your pulse!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone! A comedy, tonight! June 28, 2014
The opening musical number of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum" boasts that it has something for everyone: a comedy with "lovers, liars and clowns," and "nothing with gods, nothing but fate/weighty affairs will just have to wait."

That song pretty effectively sums up what to expect in this not-terribly-faithful adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's stage musical -- a complicated tangle of wacky antics, silly acting and mass confusion. It has some rough patches such as the sometimes nausea-inducing cinematography, but Zero Mostel steals the entire movie with sweaty, crazy-eyed abandon that it's impossible not to laugh your head off.

Cunning slave Pseudolus (Mostel) is always trying to get enough money to buy his freedom. When his dim master Hero (Michael Crawford) falls in love with a virginal courtesan named Philia (Annette Andre) in the house next door, Pseudolus sees the perfect opportunity. And by glorious chance, Hero's parents -- the appropriately-named Domina (Patricia Jessel) and henpecked Senex (Michael Hordern) -- are off on a visit to her mother.

But oh woe! It turns out that Philia is already sold to the bombastically boastful Roman captain Miles Gloriosus (Leon Greene). So Pseudolus tricks the slave merchant Marcus Lycus (Phil Silvers) into thinking Philia has the smiling plague, and he and Hero start gathering the ingredients for a potion so the lovers can elope.

But things inevitably get wacky when various people converge on the area -- deaths are faked, identities are mistaken, suicides are threatened, drag is worn and Pseudolus and his weary fellow slave Hysterium (Jack Gilford) soon end up this whole loony scenario up to their hears.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I lived in Rome... July 8, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Zero Mostel is the inept salve Pseudolus, attempting to earn his freedom through slight and deception. Phil Silvers is the greasy Lycos, a perveyor of women's flesh. Buster Keaton (in his last role) is in search of his children who wear a signet ring (who would create a family crest out of a gaggle of geese?). Oh, did I forget the vestal virgin who really isn't a virgin? Oh, wait. Did I forget the young hero out to collect a cup of mare's sweat as a love potion? And the `G' rated ... scene with room swapping a la the Marx Brothers? Dude! For the love their gods I split a freakin' gut! There isn't a second that doesn't have a musical, verbal, or sight gag. If you have a bit of comedic intelligence, you will love this flick. No Eddie Murphy profanity, no Bill Murray insipidy. This comedy was the groundbreaker. If you do NOT like this flick, e-mail and berate me. I'll put you on my stupid list. Trust me. I am never wrong.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
The Tony winning musical comedy, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM had 964 performances between 5/8/62 and 8/29/64. Its punnish script is in part by Larry Gelbart (creator of TV's M*A*S*H) and songs are from Stephen Sondheim. Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford reprise their Broadway roles in a film that nicely expands well beyond the limits of the stage.

As movie audiences no longer favored musicals in 1966, most of this show's songs, including Zero's big number, "Free" were cut. His opener, "Comedy tonight!" remains as does "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid," an amusing patter piece that also features Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford and Michael Hordern.

Pseudolus (Mostel) is a conniving slave who often cheats at dice in trying to raise enough money to buy his freedom. When Pseudolus learns that his young master, Hero (Crawford) is in love with Philia (Andre), a beautiful courtesan who lives next door in the notorious house of pleasure run by Marcus Lycus (Silvers), he strikes an advantageous bargain. If Pseudolus can successfully deliver Philia to Hero he will be emancipated. But things go wrong immediately and the story quickly becomes, as its first song states, "something frenetic."

Buster Keaton, in his final motion picture, is clearly unwell (he was dying of lung cancer), but still spry and able to improvise a pratfall that frightened director Richard Lester when he did it.
Zero Mostel won a Best Actor Tony for his portayal of Pseudolus. Phil Silvers was offered this role on Broadway, but declined because without his trademark hornrim glasses he feared getting injured on stage.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars zero mostel did better than our lead actor
we did this as a school play, zero mostel did better than our lead actor.
Published 2 days ago by William C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another of my all time favorites.
Published 3 days ago by Louis G. Gregorio
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, enjoyable, hilarious!
Oh jeez, this is a funny movie. I first saw this probably about 30 years ago while in college when my Classics professor hosted a party at his house and showed this movie. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Michael S.
4.0 out of 5 stars "Comedy Tonight!" Now in Blu-ray!
Producer Melvin Frank (who had several noteworthy films under his belt having produced everything from "My Favorite Blonde" 1942 to "Walk Like a Man" 1987-director only) made... Read more
Published 13 days ago by keith m. orr
4.0 out of 5 stars Great musical -- but if you own the DVD, maybe don't bother with the...
This is one of my favorite comedies (musical or otherwise) of all time, and there are so many great moments I can watch it again and again. Read more
Published 14 days ago by J. Holman
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Nuts SEX = FUN... Classic Jokes!
Published 22 days ago by Terrill A. Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love the movie
Published 23 days ago by Ronald W. Ankney
1.0 out of 5 stars Pan & Scan or Widescreen?
Beware, the specs say the blu-ray is 1:33 which indicates a pan and scan version. The film was done in 1:85. I have the laserdisc in widescreen. Read more
Published 26 days ago by G. Hamson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winner!
Absolutely loved the music and the comedy! Nothing like old movies.
Published 27 days ago by Judith A. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Family fun movie, we get a kick out of it every time we watch it.
Published 1 month ago by Doris
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Topic From this Discussion
What Aspect Ratio?
Your post doesn't make it clear if you're trying to confirm the correct aspect ratio of the blu-ray, but it is 1.85:1 in case you didn't know.
20 days ago by B. Albert |  See all 3 posts
are there any special features?
Special features are pretty much nonexistent, just the theatrical trailer.
20 days ago by B. Albert |  See all 2 posts
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