Monday, October 14, 2013

Withnailabilia

As a confirmed "Withnail & I" addict, I of course want to surround myself with as many things that remind me of the movie as possible.  Here's what I have so far.  Newly acquired items will be added to this post as I find them, so come back and see what's new!



I sent a printed copy of all my Wall-O-Withnail pictures to Bruce Robinson, writer and director of "Withnail & I".  And blow me down if he didn't actually look at them, and send me a vintage Withnail poster, complete with awesome hand-written message!

Receiving a compliment like this from the person who wrote "Withnail & I" is akin to being knighted in the Withnail fandom.  I'm flying high on this for years to come.

 (Message redacted to protect the quite possibly insane)

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Due to highly UNevasive skills, some shitstain made a left through a red light, into the front of my little orange pickup truck, and totaled it.  I subsequently acquired a black Jeep Wrangler that I named "Squat Betty".  I just got Squat Betty her own Withnail & I tee shirt... check it out, man!


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My dear mother was kind enough to give me her antique Columbia Viva-Tonal phonograph, and I was fortunate enough to find the following 78rpm records of music from the film.  Enjoy these home recordings.


"Hang Out the Stars in Indiana" - sung by Al Bowlly
This song is featured in the "boots in the oven" scene.


Charlie Kunz playing "Piano Medley #121"
This song is featured in the "I wanna get to bed" scene.

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Richard E. Grant emailed me about this site, and then TWEETED ABOUT ME!   OMG - you could knock me over with a bottle of Ronsonol!

 See the second tweet down?  That's ME!!!!  (Message redacted to protect the most definitely insane.)  I predict an upsurge in views on this blog immediately, if not sooner.  Thanks so much, Richard!!

I've been tweeted again!!
30 October 2014!!


 (Third picture on the right, top row - THAT'S ME!)



 I'VE GOT A CRAMP IN THE MOUTH FROM GRINNING!!!
Thanks to Tom Walker at Historic Newspapers UK for the tweet!

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12 January 2015:  Ralph Brown (Danny the drug dealer) retweeted one of my humorous posts!


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 Victrola record of Al Bowlly singing "Hang Out the Stars in Indiana"
(which I play on my Columbia Viva-Tonal cabinet gramophone!!)

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This tee shirt is extremely special, because it was made by Andrea Galer, who was the costume designer for "Withnail & I".  The shirt is made of luxurious, fine fabric that is much nicer than any other tee shirt I've ever owned.  It's so nice I hand-wash the shirt in Woolite and lay it on a towel to dry... no way am I putting that shirt in a laundromat washing machine!!!

Andrea Galer is a lovely and warm-hearted person - and she is amazingly talented as well.  Here is her website... sigh in awe at all the amazing movies she's designed clothing for!  Here is her online store.  Yes, she designed Withnail's famous coat!  And yes, she will make one just for you!  (Still saving my pennies for that one.)



My Withnail and Marwood mug.  A treasured possession, which I carry to work with me every day.  I especially enjoy the curious glances from co-workers as I sip my drinks out of this mug.  They obviously have no idea what it's like to be threatened with a dead fish!



An "official" (?) Withnail and I mug, still in its original, unopened wrapping.  Photos 1 and 4 show the wrapping, which shows through the clear plastic on two sides of the box, and photos 2 and 3 show the mug, which shows through the box on the other 2 sides.  This came from the UK via ebay.  I'm not opening this or using it, because it's the only one I've ever seen and if I broke it I'd feel like a pig shat in my head.


MY WITHNAIL TEE SHIRT COLLECTION



 I really love this tee shirt.  It came from the UK, where they apparently have no large people.  I bought an extra large, and can barely squeeze it over my head.  I only wear this one when I can trick myself into feeling skinny, due to highly evasive skills.




Another great "insiders only" Withnail shirt.  Most people have no idea what's carved on the men's room wall in this pub!  But Marwood and I?  We know, and it gives us THE FEAR.




I'm just waiting for the day when someone will see me wearing this shirt and scream "SCRUBBERS!" at the top of their lungs.  I'm waiting, but I'm not holding my breath, because I don't want to die before I finish the Wall-O-Withnail.




Again... a Withnail "insiders only" shirt.  I love it when people point to the shirt and say "voodoo qualities" and laugh, because I know they have no idea what's really in that doll's head.  (Trade: Phenodihydrochloride Benzorex... Street: "The Embalmer")




 Fairly self-explanatory, but no less awesome for that.



August 2014, newest addition to the Withnail tee shirt collection:  Penrith Tea Rooms!



A great ebay find... in a nice, XXL Uncle Monty size, to leave room for lots of lamb with garlic, rosemary, and salt... with potatoes and carrots, of course.

 Here's one of the outfits Uncle Monty wears.

Here's an outfit I put together for myself,
complete with vintage radish brooch and earrings.
(Earring displayed on the collar for ease of viewing.)


 This is my collection of Withnail-esque neckwear.
As you can see, I still haven't found "the scarf" proper.
The search continues.



My Withnail library, of course, includes the original screenplay for the movie.  It's wonderful in a completely new and exciting way, since it includes Bruce Robinson's visions for each scene.  His descriptions of scene settings and camera work are funny, and moving... right down to the bone.  There are also scenes in the screenplay that were cut from the movie, so it's like an extra scoop of the good stuff.  The touching foreword by Bruce Robinson references his old friend Viv MacKerrell, now deceased, and brings a tear to my eye every time I read it.


This is book, titled "Withnail & I", by Kevin Jackson, is one I bought just because of the subject matter.  It's basically a recap of the entire film, with the author's views on each character and scene.  Can't imagine why he wrote it, since all one would have to do to find out what's in the movie is to watch it... but perhaps he found, like I did, that it's difficult to just watch this movie and then get on with a normal life.  When you're addicted to a film, it's like you have to find some way to make it part of your life.  So you write books about it.  Or start a collection of vintage items found in the film.



This book is fun because it's a random, rollicking ride through many facets of the film.  Alphabetized for added quirkiness, the list of  facts goes from fairly mundane to exclusive behind-the-scenes information.  Having Ralph Brown, who played Danny the drug dealer in the film, write the foreword was a great plus for this author's work, as well as for us who read it.



This book was a bit of a tease, as I bought it based on the title and cover picture... didn't really realize until I had it in my hand that the book isn't just about Withnail.  It broadly covers quite a few "cult" films.  As I don't really give a rat's arse about other cult films, there just was not enough about Withnail in it for my taste, and what was there wasn't really enlightening.  Smith comes across rather professorish and dry.  The best part of the chapter on Withnail was his interview with Andrea Galer, costume designer for the film and creator of The Withnail Coat.  Andrea Galer is amazing, and so an interview with her can't really be much less than that.



A book written by the guy who actually played Withnail - brought that brilliantly written character to equally brilliant life - is bound to be spectacular.  His memories of what it was like to be trying to get the part, what it was like to actually be cast, what it was like to be on set with Paul McGann and Richard Griffiths and the rest... it's just magical!  Of course it's nothing like movie fans imagine - it's not fairy dust and champagne and back slapping all around.  

Reading Richard E. Grant's personal viewpoint on the whole thing was really eye-opening, especially in the area of how the process of acting can challenge your self confidence.  You have to act confident in order to get a part, but all the things that can and do go wrong on a film can affect your emotional balance greatly... and then you still have to go on camera and pull off a great performance!  Lucky for us, he was able to do just that.  Now I just wish Paul McGann would write his Withnail memoirs....


[cover2.jpg] 

Vivian MacKerrell was a friend of writer/director Bruce Robinson, and Robinson based Withnail on his memories of a period of time when he shared a flat with Viv.  Sadly, MacKerrell drank himself to death.  This book, which chronicles his life, is in some ways a fundamental must-read for true Withnail fans.  Complete with photos from what must have been a sort of equally heavenly and hellish time for all involved, this book really sets the tone for the source, the wellspring, the fount from which the story of Withnail was drawn.


  

I loved reading this book (skipped most of the non-Withnail-related stuff, of course) because the way Bruce Robinson thinks is extremely attractive to my sort of brain.  There's a rhythm to his speech, and a sharpness of wit, biting sarcasm, and completely mental sense of humor that draws me right in.  He's rational and crazy.  Sad and making fun of it.  Has completely valid expectations, most of which do not come to fruition.  He strikes a very familiar chord with me... and apparently many others, which is why this book was written to begin with.


http://www.pottypoets.com/Files/52817/Img/09/bigWN.jpg

This was a really great read - not only filled with great character insights and comparisons, but also with fun facts that I'd hitherto suspected, but not noticed due to highly evasive skills.  For example, I'd always thought that in some of the "driving to Penrith" scenes it was actually Bruce Robinson in the driver's seat, not Paul McGann.  And, according to this book, I was right!  

I also gained clarification on a line in the movie that had been bothering me (all 100+ times I've seen the film!).  Danny the drug dealer asks Marwood if Withnail has just been busted.  Marwood says no, and Danny says "Then why's he acting so uptightly?" - at which point Withnail wheels around, comb in hand, and says "Because a gang of cheroot vendors considered a haircut beyond the limit of my capabilities."

Danny then goes on a long rant about hairdressers and the reason no one should ever cut their hair.  Perhaps it was this follow-up dialogue that led me to believe that the "gang of cheroot vendors" Withnail was disparaging were the hairdressers themselves, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out why they'd refuse to cut his hair - I mean, it's their job, right?

Well, Ms. Robson brought me straight back to the fact that Withnail was answering Danny's original question, which was "...why is he acting so uptightly?".  The reason Withnail was uptight was because his agent wasn't getting him a job.  "Cheroot vendors" was a reference to the casting agents for the cigar commercial he was trying for, and that they had turned him down for the part because his hair was too long.

Once I realized my mistaken mental emphasis, the whole scene came clear for me and it was such a relief!  That one line was like a small burr in my sock every time I watched the film.  Now, thanks to Ms. Robson, it's smooth sailing from Camden to Penrith and back again!



I bought this dvd - and then a region-free dvd player - in order to see the famous Vivian Mackerrell, who inspired Bruce Robinson's character "Withnail", in action.

The movie was godawful, but Vivian was lovely.  Too bad he didn't get a better break, things might have turned out differently for him.

He reminded me quite a bit of Thomas Jane's character in "Original Sin".

Vivian Mackerrell

Thomas Jane

Devastating blue eyes, a cleft chin, and a funny moustache.  Both very sexy, as well.

The second disc that came with the set was actually more interesting than the movie itself - lots of great stories about being on location in India, etc.  Also a bunch of really bizarre 1960's short films.


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My fab friend and fellow Withnail addict Dave sent me a bottle of his home-brewed hard cider all the way from the UK!  I'm saving it for my next viewing of the movie, where it will be ceremonially consumed, over ice of course!

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Acquired June 2015

Excited to have nabbed a promotional poster for an exhibit given by Murray Close, the set photographer for the movie.  Would have loved to have gone to the show!


Another cool ebay find... a promo still from the set, with Marwood (Paul McGann) and Bruce Robinson.  My beautiful boys - let's make a sandwich!  You be the bread!