Friday, September 18, 2020

Unseen ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ Sketches Found

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A report from Variety.com reveals new archived footage from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A Wild West bookshop and an amorous pink knight never made it into the film alongside the killer rabbit of Caerbannog and the Knights Who Say “Ni!”, but the unused sketches have been unearthed in the private archives of Python member Michael Palin.

The British Library confirmed the find to Variety, which was first reported by The Times of London. The sketches were written for “Holy Grail” but did not make the cut, and include a more conventional ending to the film than the abrupt one that was ultimately chosen because it was considered cheaper as well as funnier.

Palin said that the Pythons – himself, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones – often produced more material than was needed, and in this case “the story of the knights [of the Round Table] was enough.” An absurdist take on Arthurian legend, the film was directed by Jones and Gilliam and released in 1975.

The Pink Knight sketch was written by Palin and Jones. Reprinted in The Times before going on public display, it sees the knight standing in a “camp pose” and demanding a kiss from King Arthur. “None shall cross this bridge save he who shall give me a kiss,” the pink knight says. Arthur declines, and the pair struggle before falling on one another. A group of passing pilgrims sees them, leading a monk to remark: “You could at least go indoors. You landowners are all the same.”

Palin gave the British Library his archives last June. The majority of the material has been catalogued and is already available in the library’s reading rooms. There were more than 50 notebooks containing drafts, working material and reflections relating to Palin’s Monty Python writing. There were also project files with material relating to his film, TV and literary work, and annotated scripts relating to Python projects.

Archive highlights will be on display in a “Michael Palin, Writer, Actor, Comedian” exhibition in the library’s Treasures Gallery. “There will be scripts, diaries, photographs and ephemera celebrating films like ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian,’ and also showing less well-known aspects of Palin’s career,” a spokesman for the library said.

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