A Fish Called Wanda


1h 48m 1988
A Fish Called Wanda

Brief Synopsis

Four crooks pull off a daring heist, then plot to doublecross each other.

Film Details

Also Known As
En fisk som heter Wanda, Fish Called Wanda, Un poisson nommé Wanda, poisson nommé Wanda
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Romance
Romantic Comedy
Release Date
1988
Production Company
Agfa; British Airways; Cts Studios; Panavision, Ltd.; Twickenham Film Studios; Twickenham Studios
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP); CBS Video; MGM Distribution Company; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; United International Pictures
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; Oxford, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m

Synopsis

Archie Leach is a repressed English barrister whose life is thrown into upheaval when he meets Wanda--a sexy American thief who needs his help in order for her band of thieves to pull off the heist of the century.

Crew

Steve Abbott

Executive Producer

Leon Apsey

Construction Supervisor

Lynda Armstrong

Makeup

Jonathan Bates

Sound Editor

Jonathan Benson

Assistant Director

Bruce Bigg

Property Master

Neil Binney

Camera Operator

Andy Birmingham

Production Accountant

Bobby Bremner

Gaffer

Peter Byck

Assistant (To Michael Shamberg (Usa))

Sophie Clarke-jervoise

Assistant (To John Cleese)

John Cleese

Screenwriter

John Cleese

From Story

John Cleese

Story By

John Cleese

Executive Producer

Pauline Clift

Animals Supplier

John Comfort

Associate Producer

John Comfort

Production Manager

Robert Conway

Technical Advisor (Legal)

Stephen Cornish

Wardrobe Assistant

Charles Crichton

Story By

Charles Crichton

From Story

Nick Daubeny

Location Manager (Oxford)

Diana Dill

Continuity

John Du Prez

Music

Bill Edwards

Unit Publicist

Paul Engelen

Makeup Supervisor

Roy Evans

Construction Manager

George Gibbs

Special Effects Supervisor

Romo Gorrara

Stunt Coordinator

Graham Hall

Other

Jenny Hawkins

Wardrobe Assistant

Yvonne Heeks

Accountant Assistant

Peter Holt

Music Editor

Alan Hume

Dp/Cinematographer

Alan Hume

Director Of Photography

Simon Hume

Grip

Simon Hume

Other

Gerry Humphreys

Sound Rerecording Mixer

Andre Jacquemin

Music Producer

David James

Stills

Priscilla John

Casting Director

John Jympson

Editor

Ralph Kamp

Production Assistant

Chris Knowles

Location Manager Assistant (London)

William Lang

Location Manager

Liz Lehmans

Production Assistant

Dick Lewzey

Music Recording (Orchestral)

Melvin Lind

2nd Assistant Director

Janine Lodge

Production Coordinator

Lee Lighting Ltd

Lighting Equipment

Stephenie Mcmillan

Set Decorator

Ian Miles

Other

Janine Modder

Production Coordinator

Chris Munro

Sound Recording

Roger Murray-leach

Production Designer

Hazel Pethig

Costume Designer

Kevin Phipps

Art Direction Assistant

Brian Read

Production Buyer

Barry Richardson

Chief Hairdresser

Michael Shamberg

Producer

Andrew Sissons

Sound Maintenance Engineer

David Skynner

3rd Assistant Director

Alfie Smith

Supervisor

Alexandra Stone

Assistant (To The Producer)

Micky Swift

Propman (Standby)

Bill Thornhill

Bestboy

Billy Thornhill

Best Boy

Ray Usher-cooper

Wardrobe Master

David M Watson

Special Effects

David Watson

Special Effects Technician

William Webb

Assistant Editor

William Webb

Assistant Editor

John Williams

Guitarist

Colin Wood

Boom Operator

John Wood

Art Direction

Film Details

Also Known As
En fisk som heter Wanda, Fish Called Wanda, Un poisson nommé Wanda, poisson nommé Wanda
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Romance
Romantic Comedy
Release Date
1988
Production Company
Agfa; British Airways; Cts Studios; Panavision, Ltd.; Twickenham Film Studios; Twickenham Studios
Distribution Company
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (MGM )/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP); CBS Video; MGM Distribution Company; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; United International Pictures
Location
London, England, United Kingdom; Oxford, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m

Award Wins

Best Supporting Actor

1988
Kevin Kline

Award Nominations

Best Director

1988
Charles Crichton

Best Original Screenplay

1988

Articles

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)


A Fish Called Wanda airs Sunday, March 20th at 3:00 AM

A Fish Called Wanda was released in 1988, a year in which American comedies were sweet (Big), subversive (Heathers), silly (Ernest Saves Christmas), spoofy (The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad), scary (Beetlejuice) and satirical (Tanner ‘88). And that’s only the s’s.

Wanda, to coin a phrase, was something completely different, a farce that is indubitably…what’s the word I’m looking for? Take it away, Phil Donahue.

“British,” proclaimed the iconic American talk show host in an featuring the film’s core cast promoting the film: John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis via satellite, and Kevin Kline and Michael Palin in studio. Donahue called the film “aggressive, irreverent and bold in ways that escape the creative artists in this nation.”

Case in point, he noted: “We would never kill three Yorkies in one movie.”

“I love the film,” Palin wrote in Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980-1988. “Nothing I’ve done gives me as much unqualified pleasure.” No, wait; he was referring to East of Ipswich, the semi-autobiographical drama he wrote for British television. Wanda’s six-year journey to the screen, he chronicled, was more fraught, but in a good way.

A Fish Called Wanda sounds like it could be an animated children’s film, which it certainly is not. Asked in another what the film was about, Cleese offered, “It’s basically about this very attractive, dashing, debonair, and dare I say, rather sexy English lawyer who finishes up with diamonds worth $20 million bucks and a girl called Jamie Lee Curtis.”

For her part, Curtis countered, “Actually, the movie is really about this very bright, very interesting American woman who seduces all these stupid men and gets all the diamonds,” while Palin (Kline was not present), corrected, “It’s about this struggling, courageous animal rights liberationist with very tight trousers who fights for what he believes in.”

Actually, Wanda is a heist film, and the only thing better than a heist film, is a bungled heist film, in which a quartet of thieves each has their own agenda and whose trustworthiness is suspect. The most suspect of all is Curtis’ Wanda Gershwitz, who indeed has not only each member of the gang in her thrall, but also Cleese’s buttoned-up barrister, Archie Leach (Cary Grant fans will get the joke), who is defending the gang’s supposed ringleader.

The film is a collaboration of British comic royalty. Cleese, formerly of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the co-creator and star of Fawlty Towers, wrote what would be his first solo feature film script.

The venerable Charles Crichton, best known for his classic Ealing Studios comedies, The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), directed. He and Cleese had worked together on comic management training short films Cleese created for his film company, Video Arts. Crichton was 77 and had not directed a feature film in over two decades when Cleese recruited him for Wanda. He went to bat for Crichton when studios objected, citing concerns about his age and health, including a bad back (which was alleviated by acupuncture). 

Cleese has always been about ensemble, and Wanda is not the star vehicle one might have expected a screenwriter to create for himself (although his character does get the girl). Casting a net, Cleese has said he was inspired by the legendary Beyond the Fringe troupe of Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller.  In “Something Fishy,” a making-of documentary included on a “Special Edition” of the Wanda DVD, Cleese explained that “if you get four funny characters, there are so many combinations you can do…you never quite get bored.” 

Palin, a Python colleague, was always in the mix. Cleese pursued Curtis after seeing her fearlessly funny performance in Trading Places (1983). He pitched Kline about playing a character who was the most evil man in the world, and, as the part evolved, also perhaps one of the stupidest. Cleese, playing against type, is the voice of reason, but in the classic tradition of farce, is nonetheless swept up in all the madness.  

A Fish Called Wanda plays swimmingly and benefits from repeat viewings. The film’s most quotable dialogue is one word shouted by Kline’s Otto when he discovers a double cross: “Disappointed!” The memorable seduction-interruptus scene gets a subversive kick by having Cleese, and not Curtis, shed his clothes. This was Curtis’ idea; just one of several that finally compelled Palin to gift her with a t-shirt that read, “Wait, I Have an Idea.” 

But Wanda’s saving grace is that it is a film that remains true to its darkly comic muse. In Ealing terms, it is closer to The Ladykillers (1955) than the more whimsical Whiskey Galore! (1949). About those Yorkies: what makes their tragic demises so shockingly “I-shouldn’t-be-laughing-at-this” funny is that their deaths are the last thing Palin’s animal-loving character wants. He has been charged with killing a nasty elderly witness, but his attempts on her life each end up going awry, taking a horrific toll on one of her pets.

Another example of a darker British sensibility at work is the scene in which Otto tortures Palin’s Ken by sticking French fries up his nose and one-by-one swallowing his beloved fish. As Cleese told Vanity Fair: “The torture scene, I thought, was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. And yet when we showed it to audiences, there was a squeamishness we couldn’t understand. At some point, we had someone with a tape recorder go in so we could listen during the scene. And there were a lot of ‘eurghhh’ sounds. They were worried that Michael couldn’t breathe. They just didn’t think it was as funny as we did.”

The film does go a tad soft at the end. So invested were test audiences in Archie and Wanda that they gave a thumbs-down to the original more sinister ending in which it is suggested that Wanda, ever the femme fatale, will dupe and abandon him. But Archie’s declaration of love goes no further than, “Behave yourself from now on, or I’ll break your neck.”

A Fish Called Wanda was a minnow in a very big pond. Its budget was a mere $8 million. Initially in theaters as a limited release, it opened on July 15 against the Dirty Harry entry, The Dead Pool, and a re-release of Disney’s Bambi (1942). Coming to America, Die Hard, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big and Bull Durham, some of the year’s biggest films, were still in theaters.

One initial review of the film was not auspicious. Writing in The New York Times, Vincent Canby was inclined to throw A Fish Called Wanda back. “It's not easy to describe the movie's accumulating dimness or to understand what went wrong,” he wrote. “A private joke to be enjoyed only by the members of the cast and crew who made it.”

But he was in the minority. Roger Ebert called it “is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time; it goes on the list with The Producers, This is Spinal Tap and the early Inspector Clouseau movies.” Richard Schickel called it “the next best thing to a Looney Tunes-Merrie Melodies Summerfest.”

A Fish Called Wanda, was nominated for three Academy Awards, rare for a comedy: Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, which, even rarer for a comedy performance, Kline won. In 1999, The BFI ranked Wanda 39th on its list of the top 100 British films of the 20th century, right between Alan Parker’s The Commitments (1991) and Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies (1996).

Palins’s own assessment upon seeing the film cut together for the first time was positive. Cleese, he wrote, “gave his best all-round performance since Basil Fawlty,” while Kevin and Jamie were “immaculate.”

Following the screening, he said, John had the cast in for a session of thoughts and reactions. “Thorough to the end,” he wrote.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

A Fish Called Wanda airs Sunday, March 20th at 3:00 AMA Fish Called Wanda was released in 1988, a year in which American comedies were sweet (Big), subversive (Heathers), silly (Ernest Saves Christmas), spoofy (The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad), scary (Beetlejuice) and satirical (Tanner ‘88). And that’s only the s’s.Wanda, to coin a phrase, was something completely different, a farce that is indubitably…what’s the word I’m looking for? Take it away, Phil Donahue.“British,” proclaimed the iconic American talk show host in an featuring the film’s core cast promoting the film: John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis via satellite, and Kevin Kline and Michael Palin in studio. Donahue called the film “aggressive, irreverent and bold in ways that escape the creative artists in this nation.”Case in point, he noted: “We would never kill three Yorkies in one movie.”“I love the film,” Palin wrote in Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980-1988. “Nothing I’ve done gives me as much unqualified pleasure.” No, wait; he was referring to East of Ipswich, the semi-autobiographical drama he wrote for British television. Wanda’s six-year journey to the screen, he chronicled, was more fraught, but in a good way.A Fish Called Wanda sounds like it could be an animated children’s film, which it certainly is not. Asked in another what the film was about, Cleese offered, “It’s basically about this very attractive, dashing, debonair, and dare I say, rather sexy English lawyer who finishes up with diamonds worth $20 million bucks and a girl called Jamie Lee Curtis.”For her part, Curtis countered, “Actually, the movie is really about this very bright, very interesting American woman who seduces all these stupid men and gets all the diamonds,” while Palin (Kline was not present), corrected, “It’s about this struggling, courageous animal rights liberationist with very tight trousers who fights for what he believes in.”Actually, Wanda is a heist film, and the only thing better than a heist film, is a bungled heist film, in which a quartet of thieves each has their own agenda and whose trustworthiness is suspect. The most suspect of all is Curtis’ Wanda Gershwitz, who indeed has not only each member of the gang in her thrall, but also Cleese’s buttoned-up barrister, Archie Leach (Cary Grant fans will get the joke), who is defending the gang’s supposed ringleader.The film is a collaboration of British comic royalty. Cleese, formerly of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the co-creator and star of Fawlty Towers, wrote what would be his first solo feature film script.The venerable Charles Crichton, best known for his classic Ealing Studios comedies, The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), directed. He and Cleese had worked together on comic management training short films Cleese created for his film company, Video Arts. Crichton was 77 and had not directed a feature film in over two decades when Cleese recruited him for Wanda. He went to bat for Crichton when studios objected, citing concerns about his age and health, including a bad back (which was alleviated by acupuncture). Cleese has always been about ensemble, and Wanda is not the star vehicle one might have expected a screenwriter to create for himself (although his character does get the girl). Casting a net, Cleese has said he was inspired by the legendary Beyond the Fringe troupe of Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller.  In “Something Fishy,” a making-of documentary included on a “Special Edition” of the Wanda DVD, Cleese explained that “if you get four funny characters, there are so many combinations you can do…you never quite get bored.” Palin, a Python colleague, was always in the mix. Cleese pursued Curtis after seeing her fearlessly funny performance in Trading Places (1983). He pitched Kline about playing a character who was the most evil man in the world, and, as the part evolved, also perhaps one of the stupidest. Cleese, playing against type, is the voice of reason, but in the classic tradition of farce, is nonetheless swept up in all the madness.  A Fish Called Wanda plays swimmingly and benefits from repeat viewings. The film’s most quotable dialogue is one word shouted by Kline’s Otto when he discovers a double cross: “Disappointed!” The memorable seduction-interruptus scene gets a subversive kick by having Cleese, and not Curtis, shed his clothes. This was Curtis’ idea; just one of several that finally compelled Palin to gift her with a t-shirt that read, “Wait, I Have an Idea.” But Wanda’s saving grace is that it is a film that remains true to its darkly comic muse. In Ealing terms, it is closer to The Ladykillers (1955) than the more whimsical Whiskey Galore! (1949). About those Yorkies: what makes their tragic demises so shockingly “I-shouldn’t-be-laughing-at-this” funny is that their deaths are the last thing Palin’s animal-loving character wants. He has been charged with killing a nasty elderly witness, but his attempts on her life each end up going awry, taking a horrific toll on one of her pets.Another example of a darker British sensibility at work is the scene in which Otto tortures Palin’s Ken by sticking French fries up his nose and one-by-one swallowing his beloved fish. As Cleese told Vanity Fair: “The torture scene, I thought, was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. And yet when we showed it to audiences, there was a squeamishness we couldn’t understand. At some point, we had someone with a tape recorder go in so we could listen during the scene. And there were a lot of ‘eurghhh’ sounds. They were worried that Michael couldn’t breathe. They just didn’t think it was as funny as we did.”The film does go a tad soft at the end. So invested were test audiences in Archie and Wanda that they gave a thumbs-down to the original more sinister ending in which it is suggested that Wanda, ever the femme fatale, will dupe and abandon him. But Archie’s declaration of love goes no further than, “Behave yourself from now on, or I’ll break your neck.”A Fish Called Wanda was a minnow in a very big pond. Its budget was a mere $8 million. Initially in theaters as a limited release, it opened on July 15 against the Dirty Harry entry, The Dead Pool, and a re-release of Disney’s Bambi (1942). Coming to America, Die Hard, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big and Bull Durham, some of the year’s biggest films, were still in theaters.One initial review of the film was not auspicious. Writing in The New York Times, Vincent Canby was inclined to throw A Fish Called Wanda back. “It's not easy to describe the movie's accumulating dimness or to understand what went wrong,” he wrote. “A private joke to be enjoyed only by the members of the cast and crew who made it.”But he was in the minority. Roger Ebert called it “is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time; it goes on the list with The Producers, This is Spinal Tap and the early Inspector Clouseau movies.” Richard Schickel called it “the next best thing to a Looney Tunes-Merrie Melodies Summerfest.”A Fish Called Wanda, was nominated for three Academy Awards, rare for a comedy: Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, which, even rarer for a comedy performance, Kline won. In 1999, The BFI ranked Wanda 39th on its list of the top 100 British films of the 20th century, right between Alan Parker’s The Commitments (1991) and Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies (1996).Palins’s own assessment upon seeing the film cut together for the first time was positive. Cleese, he wrote, “gave his best all-round performance since Basil Fawlty,” while Kevin and Jamie were “immaculate.”Following the screening, he said, John had the cast in for a session of thoughts and reactions. “Thorough to the end,” he wrote.

A Fish Called Wanda


A Fish Called Wanda (1988), one of the best-loved British comedies of the past 20 years, is a caper story full of wacky characters and clever twists. It sends up British stereotypes (inhibition, formality) and American stereotypes (intuitiveness, lack of sophistication). More interestingly for film buffs, it's a blend of two grand traditions of British comedy: the wry 1950s Ealing Studios style and the outrageous, sometimes cruel nature of 1960s Monty Python.

While 77-year-old director Charles Crichton had made the Ealing classics The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), by 1988 he hadn't directed a feature in 20 years. He received sole credit on this finished film, but Monty Python alum John Cleese's name was listed in the credits through production mainly as insurance in case Crichton died or would be unable to complete the film. In truth, though, Cleese generally worked with the actors on the set while Crichton guided the overall production. On the first day of shooting, Cleese gave Crichton a t-shirt that said "Age and Treachery Will Always Overcome Youth and Skill." Sure enough, Crichton's years of experience paid off: the production finished shooting every day at 6pm and still came in under budget. To top it off, Crichton received an Oscar nomination - as did the original screenplay by Crichton and Cleese.

The script was a true collaboration. The two men worked together on thirteen drafts and also sought input from their cast, even organizing script readings a full 8-10 months before shooting. One such read-through encouraged Cleese to make his character - a straightlaced, uptight barrister - "a bit more like me. More real, more vulnerable and more romantic about Wanda, as opposed to just wanting to get into bed with her." Cleese's character, by the way, is named Archie Leach - Cary Grant's real name - because Cleese and Grant were from the same English hometown, and because, Cleese explained, "it's the nearest I will ever get to being Cary Grant."

On the set, Cleese created a relaxed atmosphere for the actors so that the collaboration could continue. (Kevin Kline described Cleese as having "hosted" the film.) It worked - for everyone. Jamie Lee Curtis turned in one of her best-remembered performances. Kevin Kline, a comic delight as a stuttering, armpit-sniffing animal lover, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Cleese's own performance benefited, too. He said he tended to find acting dull because, having written the dialogue himself, there was no sense of discovery for him. "But on Wanda I got interested again, because when we came to the more romantic scenes with Jamie, she said, 'Don't rehearse. Let's just see what happens.' I'd never done that. It's scary if you're addicted to rehearsing, as I am - like pushing a boat off from shore without any oars. Sometimes, between takes, Jamie would see me running lines in my head. She'd say 'Don't' and wave a finger at me." Curtis was so full of advice, in fact, that co-star Michael Palin gave her a t-shirt that read, "Wait, I have an idea."

As hilarious as A Fish Called Wanda is, it was not an easy film to finance and produce. Cleese spent over $150,000 of his own money on development and pre-production while trying to arouse interest from the Hollywood studios. Four of them passed before MGM/UA finally agreed to put up the $8 million budget. A good call, for the movie made over $100 million worldwide and became a gigantic hit on video. In fact, A Fish Called Wanda became the most successful British comedy ever released in the U.S. Interestingly, while the picture debuted on July 15, 1988, it didn't reach No. 1 in the weekend box-office rankings until Sept. 16 - a testament to its incredible popularity and still the longest a film has ever taken to reach the top of the weekend rankings.

Test screenings led to some of the more cruel humor being toned down, including a shot of a dog's entrails displayed in a pattern and a scene where Kline uses cats' tails for target practice. The title was a challenge to translate for international release. In Japan, the film was called Wanda, the Diamond, and the Good Guys."

Producer: Steve Abbott, John Cleese, Lee Rich, Michael Shamberg, John Comfort
Director: Charles Crichton
Screenplay: Charles Crichton, John Cleese
Cinematography: Alan Hume
Film Editing: John Jympson
Art Direction: John Wood
Music: John Du Prez
Cast: John Cleese (Archie Leach), Jamie Lee Curtis (Wanda Gershwitz), Kevin Kline (Otto West), Michael Palin (Ken), Tom Georgeson (Georges), Maria Aitken (Wendy Leach).
C-108m. Letterboxed.

by Jeremy Arnold

A Fish Called Wanda

A Fish Called Wanda (1988), one of the best-loved British comedies of the past 20 years, is a caper story full of wacky characters and clever twists. It sends up British stereotypes (inhibition, formality) and American stereotypes (intuitiveness, lack of sophistication). More interestingly for film buffs, it's a blend of two grand traditions of British comedy: the wry 1950s Ealing Studios style and the outrageous, sometimes cruel nature of 1960s Monty Python. While 77-year-old director Charles Crichton had made the Ealing classics The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), by 1988 he hadn't directed a feature in 20 years. He received sole credit on this finished film, but Monty Python alum John Cleese's name was listed in the credits through production mainly as insurance in case Crichton died or would be unable to complete the film. In truth, though, Cleese generally worked with the actors on the set while Crichton guided the overall production. On the first day of shooting, Cleese gave Crichton a t-shirt that said "Age and Treachery Will Always Overcome Youth and Skill." Sure enough, Crichton's years of experience paid off: the production finished shooting every day at 6pm and still came in under budget. To top it off, Crichton received an Oscar nomination - as did the original screenplay by Crichton and Cleese. The script was a true collaboration. The two men worked together on thirteen drafts and also sought input from their cast, even organizing script readings a full 8-10 months before shooting. One such read-through encouraged Cleese to make his character - a straightlaced, uptight barrister - "a bit more like me. More real, more vulnerable and more romantic about Wanda, as opposed to just wanting to get into bed with her." Cleese's character, by the way, is named Archie Leach - Cary Grant's real name - because Cleese and Grant were from the same English hometown, and because, Cleese explained, "it's the nearest I will ever get to being Cary Grant." On the set, Cleese created a relaxed atmosphere for the actors so that the collaboration could continue. (Kevin Kline described Cleese as having "hosted" the film.) It worked - for everyone. Jamie Lee Curtis turned in one of her best-remembered performances. Kevin Kline, a comic delight as a stuttering, armpit-sniffing animal lover, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Cleese's own performance benefited, too. He said he tended to find acting dull because, having written the dialogue himself, there was no sense of discovery for him. "But on Wanda I got interested again, because when we came to the more romantic scenes with Jamie, she said, 'Don't rehearse. Let's just see what happens.' I'd never done that. It's scary if you're addicted to rehearsing, as I am - like pushing a boat off from shore without any oars. Sometimes, between takes, Jamie would see me running lines in my head. She'd say 'Don't' and wave a finger at me." Curtis was so full of advice, in fact, that co-star Michael Palin gave her a t-shirt that read, "Wait, I have an idea." As hilarious as A Fish Called Wanda is, it was not an easy film to finance and produce. Cleese spent over $150,000 of his own money on development and pre-production while trying to arouse interest from the Hollywood studios. Four of them passed before MGM/UA finally agreed to put up the $8 million budget. A good call, for the movie made over $100 million worldwide and became a gigantic hit on video. In fact, A Fish Called Wanda became the most successful British comedy ever released in the U.S. Interestingly, while the picture debuted on July 15, 1988, it didn't reach No. 1 in the weekend box-office rankings until Sept. 16 - a testament to its incredible popularity and still the longest a film has ever taken to reach the top of the weekend rankings. Test screenings led to some of the more cruel humor being toned down, including a shot of a dog's entrails displayed in a pattern and a scene where Kline uses cats' tails for target practice. The title was a challenge to translate for international release. In Japan, the film was called Wanda, the Diamond, and the Good Guys." Producer: Steve Abbott, John Cleese, Lee Rich, Michael Shamberg, John Comfort Director: Charles Crichton Screenplay: Charles Crichton, John Cleese Cinematography: Alan Hume Film Editing: John Jympson Art Direction: John Wood Music: John Du Prez Cast: John Cleese (Archie Leach), Jamie Lee Curtis (Wanda Gershwitz), Kevin Kline (Otto West), Michael Palin (Ken), Tom Georgeson (Georges), Maria Aitken (Wendy Leach). C-108m. Letterboxed. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Wide Release in United States July 29, 1988

Released in United States on Video February 23, 1989

Released in United States September 1988

Shown at Birmingham Film & Television Festival September 1988.

Shown at Deauville Film Festival September 1988.

Broadcast premiere in USA on ABC on September 15, 1991.

Completed shooting September 1987.

Began shooting July 13, 1987.

Released in United States Summer July 15, 1988

Wide Release in United States July 29, 1988

Released in United States on Video February 23, 1989

Released in United States September 1988 (Shown at Birmingham Film & Television Festival September 1988.)

Released in United States September 1988 (Shown at Deauville Film Festival September 1988.)

Released in United States Summer July 15, 1988