When Broadway icon Zero Mostel was approached to re-create his Tony-winning role as conniving slave Pseudolus in the ancient Rome–set farce A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, he tendered a short list of directors with whom he’d deign to work. The list included Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, Jean Renoir, and one other name: Richard Lester. Happily, producers were able to secure Lester’s services, and Lester had the wisdom to surround Mostel with scene-stealers extraordinaire, together known on set as the Forum Quorum: Jack Gilford (Mostel’s best friend), Phil Silvers (who would clinch a Tony of his own for playing Pseudolus in 1972), and Lester’s idol, Buster Keaton. Some of Stephen Sondheim’s songs were excised due to the waning popularity of musicals, but the mirth of Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart’s plotting remains intact, pitched at Lester’s typically frenetic pace and capped by Keaton’s farewell turn as Erronius.
Film runs Sunday, August 9, 2015 - Wednesday, August 12, 2015