"I used to box for Oxford."--Archie (John Cleese) "I used to kill for the CIA."
- Otto (Kevin Kline)
"To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher I.Qs."
- Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) to Otto
"Wanda, do you have any idea what it's like being English' Being so correct all the time, being so stifled by this dread of, of doing the wrong thing, of saying to someone 'Are you married'' and hearing 'My wife left me this morning,' or saying, uh, 'Do you have children'' and being told they all burned to death on Wednesday' You see, Wanda, we're all terrified of embarrassment. That's why we're so dead. Most of my friends are dead, you know, we have these piles of corpses to dinner. But you're alive, God bless you, and I want to be, I'm so fed up with all this. I want to make love with you, Wanda. I'm a good lover--at least I used to be, back in the early fourteenth century. Can we go to bed'
- Archie to Wanda
"Not you, Ken; you've got a beautiful speaking voice--when it works."
- Otto to Ken (Micahel Palin)
Academy Awards 1988 -
Best Supporting Actor: Kevin Kline
Los Angeles Times - 07/15/1988
"...A convulsively funny affair....It's a smart farce about ingrained cultural differences..."
USA Today - 02/23/1989
"...Wildly out of control as well as wildly funny, this sleeper smash is also Oscar-nominated for script and direction..."
Total Film - 09/01/2012 5 stars out of 5 -- "The comic heart is the tangled intrigue of triple-crosses, scams and deceits, seductions and betrayals..."
In A FISH CALLED WANDA, veteran director Charles Crichton and scriptwriter-star John Cleese create a dazzling quilt from various strands of English and American comedy. The plot, in which four disparate characters attempt a daring heist, comes from Ealing caper comedies, such as Crichton's own THE LAVENDER HILL MOB. Cleese and Michael Palin, as the hit man with a stutter and a love of animals, come from the anarchic tradition of Monty Python. The movie pays savage tribute to another Ealing comedy, THE LADYKILLERS, as Palin attempts to kill a witness to the gang's getaway. The glamorous con woman (Jamie Lee Curtis) is from Preston Sturges's great comedy THE LADY EVE, while Kevin Kline provides his own unique feverish comic intensity.
But, in the midst of this breathless comedy, something else happens. The barrister, Archie Leach (Cleese), who is defending one of the gang, is jolted out of his tight-laced British existence by Curtis's life force. And Curtis--like Barbara Stanwyck in THE LADY EVE--falls into her own trap: falling in love with the man she's conning. The 78-year-old Crichton never before had such rich material. He times everything in this brilliant comedy with the precision of a Swiss watch.
An odd quartet of thieves pulls off "the big jewel job," but only the brains of the operation knows where the gems are hidden. Unfortunately he's in prison and needs his stuffy defense counsel--and so do the other gang members--to go get the stash for them.
Filmed at Twickenham Studios and at location in London and Oxford, England.
A FISH CALLED WANDA is number 21 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Funniest Movies.
A FISH CALLED WANDA is number 39 on the British Film Institute's Top 100 British Films of the 20th Century.
Archibald Leach is the name that John Cleese and Charles Crichton give to the character that Cleese plays in A FISH CALLED WANDA. This is a tribute to the great Cary Grant--Archibald Leach was Grant's real name.
Stephen Fry makes a brief cameo appearance in the airport sequence. He is best known for his television roles in BLACKADDER II and JEEVES AND WOOSTER. Also he is the author of THE LIAR, THE HIPPOPOTAMUS, and MOAB IS MY WASHPOT. And he starred as Oscar Wilde in WILDE.