England’s Greatest Comedy “With Nails” Hits 30! Classic “Withnail And I”! Terrific Richard E. Grant Autobiography!

Happy 30th Birthday, Withnail!

It’s the 30th anniversary today of one of the best films ever – the classic cult 1987 comedy “Withnail & I”. Need to remember just how great it is? Let’s begin with the trailer:

British Actor Richard E. Grant

Withnail: “I think we’ve been in here too long. I feel unusual.”

Looking for the greatest English comedy of all time? And a “tell all” book by the film’s star? Well, you’ve come to the right place! It makes me think:

“We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!”

best british film ever

Yes, time to get the film fan in your family a combo pack of Richard E. Grant! This terrific British Actor was not only in one of the funniest films ever – “Withnail & I” – but he wrote a hilarious insider’s look at the crazy world of Hollywood – “With Nails!”

With Nails book

withnail and i poster

Let’s begin with one of the best British films of all time – a bold statement, but it is, to me, one of the most perfectly realized comedies ever, and it has just turned 30 years old:


Withnail & I

Here’s the plot: we begin in London 1969 – two unemployed actors, Withnail and Marwood, are freezing in their unheated flat – and they are flat broke. They need a plan, and fast. Here is their discussion about calling to ask someone for money…

best british comedy ever

Marwood: What about whatshisname?
Withnail: What about him?
Marwood: Why don’t you give him a call?
Withnail: What for?
Marwood: Ask him about his house.
Withnail: You want me to call whatshisname and ask him about his house?
Marwood: Why not?
Withnail: All right. What’s his number?
Marwood: I’ve no idea. I’ve never met him.
Withnail: Well neither have I. What the fuck are you talking about?

And Don’t Forget “Danny!”

One of the funniest supporting characters in the film is “Drug Dealer Danny”, he of the super-sized spiffs and lazy drawl – who just can’t get along with Withnail…oh, and he is CRAZY

Danny: I don’t advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hairs are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos, and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight.

Withnail: What absolute twaddle.

british comedies

The movie is filled with great scenes – as I said at the beginning, the roommates are freezing in their ice-cold flat…with only one thing to warm them…

Withnail: I must have some booze. I demand to have some booze!

The scene where Withnail guzzles lighter fluid to stay warm is a highlight….he does, after all, demand to have his booze…

Withnail has also greased his body up with muscle relaxant to get warm…

Withnail: [after having entirely covered himself in muscle embrocation] Have you been at the controls?
Marwood: What are you talking about?
Withnail: The thermostats. What have you done to them?
Marwood: I haven’t touched them.
Withnail: Then why has my head gone numb?

After a near brawl in a bar, they realize they need to get out of town…


They decide on a holiday in the countryside, courtesy of Withnail’s uncle Monty’s country cottage. But when they get there, it rains non-stop, there’s no food, and their basic survival skills turn out to be somewhat limited.

Best british comedies ever

Matters are not helped by the arrival of Uncle Monty, who shows an uncomfortably keen interest in Marwood…

Uncle Monty: “I adore you. Tell him if you must, I no longer care. I mean to have you even if it must be burglary!”

uncle monty assualt scene

Sadly, Richard Griffiths just died of complication following heart surgery. He was 65, and although most will remember him for his roles in the “Harry Potter” films, it was his Uncle Monty that I will always remember him for…

Richard Griffiths RIP

There is a book that celebrates this film – filled with:

“Everything You Ever Wanted To Know But Were Too Drunk To Ask”

Here’s one for you: the inspiration behind the name Withnail came from an old friend of the Director’s father, who had the same name and was an alcoholic! When Director Bruce Robinson was eight, he was in the car with him, and as the book states:

“Along the way, Withnail stopped, opened the door of his car and vomited profusely before casually driving off again!”

So there you go!

This movie is hilarious, and a perfect snapshot of life at the end of the 60’s – when hip, mod London turned into the cold, harsh reality of life as a struggling Actor.

This is a tour de force performance by Richard Grant, who exudes manic, crazy charm at every turn, such as when he storms into a fancy restaurant and demands, well…

best british film ever

Withnail: “We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!”

Richard E. Grant proved to be a hilarious and honest writer as well!

With Nails book

With Nails – The Film Diaries Of Richard E. Grant

If you want to read all about the craziness that goes on when you make a movie – the egos, the out of control Stars, the drugs, booze and everythign else – then this candid and hilarious book is for you!

Richard E. Grant book

Here is the original review from BOOKLIST:

Film fans alert to the immense charm of the under-known British film Withnail & I will certainly enjoy the droll autobiography of the actor who played Withnail. Of the film’s script, Grant says “never before or since have I read something that conveys what goes on in my head so accurately.”

Richard E. Grant

The image of the brusque, hilariously overbearing Withnail fits Grant, who has also appeared in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “The Age of Innocence”, and the Robert Altman films “The Player” and “Pret-a-Porter”.

Richard E. Grant films

He writes of his passage through the world of the aspiring film stardom wonderfully well, producing a book far superior to the usual movie life story. “Oh up and down and forklifts, this is a dull madness,” he says of the process of landing a role, but his book wittily presenting the madness is never dull.

Let me tell you, his stories about Bruce Willis and the making of “Hudson Hawk” are hilarious – it is “no holds barred” storytelling about the crazy world of movies…check both of these out now, and remember:

“We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!”

Happy 30th anniversary to a great great film!

best british comedies

Categories: Awards, Books / Media, British Cinema, Comedy Movies, Great Films, Independent Cinema, London, Movies, Obscure Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized

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1 reply

  1. Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:

    Cult 80’s British Classic – “Withnail & I!” Richard E. Grant’s Autobiography is hilarious as well…

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