Richard Curtis is not a name that most movie-goers would recognize. He’s not in front of the cameras. He’s a British writer/director/producer and is responsible for some of the most popular romantic comedy movies in recent years. Curtis has a new movie out – Pirate Radio – and I’m looking forward to seeing it because I’ve yet to be disappointed in anything he’s done.
Many of the series and movies that I cite here include a Christmas theme, so they on my list of must-see holiday viewing.
Curtis on TV
- Blackadder (various series,1983–1999) – The adventures and, more often, misadventures of generations of the Blackadder family. Rowan Atkinson stars as Edmund Blackadder and Tony Robinson as his servant/sidekick (sometimes that term is literal!) Baldrick. The different series follow generations of the Blackadder family from the time of Richard the Lionheart to the new millennium --- and maybe beyond. Has to be seen to be believed. And is absolutely hilarious!
- Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988) – A stand-alone special about the only nice member of the misanthropic Blackadder family and one life-changing Christmas Eve. Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson again, along with Robbie Coltrane as The Spirit of Christmas. Part of my must-see holiday viewing.
- Mr. Bean (1990-1995) – Rowan Atkinson is not only the master of dry wit and sarcastic comments – as seen in Blackadder – he’s also an incredibly gifted physical comedian. As man-child Mr. Bean, he ranks with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. The Christmas episode is another of my required holiday DVDs.
- The Vicar of Dibley (1994-2007) – Dawn French stars as a Geraldine Granger, female vicar in a small village in England. By turns reverent and terribly irreverent, the series somehow balances a respect for Geraldine’s calling and a willingness to poke some fun at it, too. There are three Christmas episodes, all very funny.
Curtis at the movies
- Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) – The movie that brought Hugh Grant to the attention of most Americans. The title pretty much says it all. Over the course of a year, a group of friends attend weddings, lose one of their group, and realize that not all love stories end with nuptials. Co-stars Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Rowan Atkinson.
- Notting Hill (1999) – Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant star in this romance comedy. A story of love and celebrity and if the two can co-exist. Includes a lovely transitional scene of Grant walking through his neighborhood over the course of a year and another very moving one at the end of the movie.
- Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – Curtis wrote the screenplay from the bestselling book. The movie stars Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant in a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Renee is wonderful as a Bridget, trying to decide between two attractive men. Firth, who played Mr. Darcy in the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice , plays the updated character Mark Darcy – and provides one of the biggest laughs of the film with his Christmas sweater. Grant is the other man who may not be all he seems. Includes one of the all-time great fight scenes in movies.
- Love Actually (2003) – My favorite of Richard Curtis’s films. No other movie has made me laugh so hard one minute and dissolve into tears the next. Set at Christmastime, the movie follows several characters, some related, some not. Some of the plotlines are related, some are not. But I enjoy every story. A movie not just about romantic love but also love between friends, parents and children, brothers and sisters – and love unrequited and unfulfilled The all-star cast includes Curtis favorite Hugh Grant as well as Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley. Part of my required holiday viewing.
Are there any writers or directors who never disappoint you? Someone you always want to check out?