1978 – All You Need is Cash (Eric Idle’s Beatle satire) gets its first TV showing.
By The Rutles – Rhino (1996) – Comedy Rock, Pop/Rock
Short of a reunion and tour by the Rutles, this DVD is the deepest and widest-ranging experience of the group that any fan is likely to see. The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash pre-dated This Is Spinal Tap by many years, and broke so much new ground in comedy and television feature production that it’s virtually a creation unto itself. The satire of the Beatles’ music history was too sophisticated to garner a major audience on American network television when it aired on NBC in 1978, but serious Beatles fans and devotees of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the Bonzo Dog Band devoured it; appropriately enough, it was originally released in America by Pacific Arts Video, a company owned by Michael Nesmith, the ex-member of the Monkees. As if the original Rutles special weren’t enough by itself to recommend the purchase of this DVD, the supplement is so full of extras that it’s practically a new version of the program. The documentary is intact, of course, and in sterling color and sound, but along with it comes a set of unused scenes (including performances of “Blue Suede Schubert” and extended portions of the Mick Jagger and Paul Simon interview material; the real treat, however, is the director’s commentary by Eric Idle. At times he’s very pedestrian, explaining the obvious source of various gags, but he also gives a good account about how certain shots were constructed, as well as how the interview material — largely improvised — ended up being more revealing about Mick Jagger’s feelings about the Beatles than was obvious. Some of the narration is frustrating, as when Idle mentions that many of the Bill Murray outtakes are very funny to watch; we’d like to have seen the outtakes appended to the movie. Idle praises co-director Gary Weiss, who handled the actual shooting of the scenes (as opposed to the acting) during the first third of the movie, but starting mid-way through, he finally gets around to praising Neil Innes, who wrote the Rutles’ repertory, pointing out that Innes’ song “I Must Be in Love” spawned the movie. He also mentions the fact that George Harrison and Ringo Starr had sung the Rutles song “Ouch!” to Idle and Innes at a friendly get-together in 2000. The menu pops up automatically on start-up and is very easy to navigate, with musical accompaniment as well. The other cool feature, apart from the bonus features (which includes a new intro by Idle), is the built-in program command that allows viewers to play the songs exclusively. The 27 chapter breaks are well-selected and include the key gag sequences as well as the songs. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide