DVD Review: The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer (1970)
We hear a lot about the genius of Peter Cook, but rarely see any evidence with it - his finer moments being lost of locked in some TV and film company vault. Thankfully, one lost gem has finally got a DVD release - The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer.
It's a 1970 movie, but its themes of spin and media manipulation are just as relevant today - possibly more so. Cook is the mysterious and sharply-dressed Michael Rimmer, ghosting unannounced and uninvited into Fairburn’s, a failing an advertising/polling agency. Assuming a role as troubleshooter, he takes control of the agency, before using sex to boost the fortunes of its clients and to get the agency onto the newspaper frontpages.
In fact, Rimmer uses polls and his growing personal influence to manipulate all areas of life, including politics – with his agency able to boost the fortunes of the Tory party and its leader, as well as undermining the incumbent Labour Prime Minister. With the Tories in the ascendency, Rimmer moves into politics himself, gets a safe Tory seat and the perfect wife (Britain’s second most-loved woman, according to the polls), before moving rapidly up the ranks to the top job - and beyond.
It's one of Cook's finest works, both as an actor and co-writer (alongside John Cleese and Graham Chapman). It's also a visually stunning film with a top-notch British cast, featuring those Python men, not to mention the likes of Denholm Elliott, Ronald Fraser, Arthur Lowe, Harold Pinter and Dennis Price. But it's that prophetic view of politics that really shines through. Rimmer could be any number of modern-day politicians - low substance and high charisma, using his media-friendly manner to gain the trust of the people - and to discredit all who get in his way. And when you see Rimmer's government cynically playing the race card and encouraging voter apathy, it's all just a little too close for comfort.
If you want a real inside view of politics, this is probably just as good as any number of sanitised autobiographies. A brilliantly dark comedy that's been in the vaults too long. And a must-buy for any fan of British comedy.
Extras on the DVD: