French & Saunders Do The Movies Their Way

I’m not going to assume that you know French and Saunders, that is, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, but I bet that you might.  Even if you haven’t ever caught their eponymous comedy series and specials via some means (they’ve been doing them for British TV since the late 1980s), perhaps you know Dawn French in the title role of The Vicar of Dibley (frequently seen on PBS stations), and Jennifer Saunders as the creator and co-star (as Edina Monsoon) of Absolutely Fabulous.  Both French and Saunders are funny and fabulous, and one of the frequent features of their work together were parodies of popular movies, old and new, with both ladies playing all parts, often male and female, and having a riot doing it. 

French and Saunders were both products of the incredibly fertile world of British alternative comedy during the early 1980s, cutting their teeth on the new wave of Brit humor that also saw the emergence of comic performers such as Ben Elton (Black Adder, The Young Ones), Rik Mayall, Hugh Laurie, Adrian Edmonson (Saunders’ husband), Miranda Richardson and many others.  As ladies who weren’t afraid to take a tumble for a laugh, French and Saunders and their combination of broad knockabout comedy, sly parody and a keen eye for absurdity made them the go-to gals for cutting-edge comedy. 

There are lots of their bits available on YouTube for quick and easy watching, and I’ve gathered some of their movie-oriented parodies here.  They also specialized in all kinds of pop culture parodies, with emphasis on skewering music idols from Britain and beyond. Many of their bits are long and quite elaborate, like their “Making of ‘Titanic’” piece that’s wonderful and should be watched (I’ve linked to the first part), and so many others.  Classic old-time Hollywood also came under their comic gaze more than once, such as this moment: Direct Link  is here.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK1NN8Msfeo&feature=related]

Or this collection when they spoofed a variety of movie stars and movies:  Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-IDyl4180E]

They did a dead-on parody of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in their version called “Whatever Happened to Baby Dawn?”:  Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z11IoaJX7Co&feature=related]

And what about Jennifer doing Vivien Leigh with Dawn as her mammy?  One of their trademarks is breaking character, seen here to great effect.  Direct Link is Here.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p070Bgqqgnw]

Here’s some of their The Sound of Music take-off, with a jaunt down London streets:  Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpuO0oAjjBU&feature=related]

They also cast their askew eye on brilliant international directors like Ingmar Bergman:  Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2MQthEYGsI]

And Federico Fellini — here’s Part 1 of their spoof, and you can continue watching with Part 2 (click on the link).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA1cKQCPPfk]

They did a popular take-off on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; here’s the full skit: Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCYbRUmzIb0&feature=related]

Dawn and Jennifer played Mel Gibson and Liam Neeson, respectively (if not respectfully), in their Scottish hero mash-up “Loveheart”; here’s Part 1 and you can watch Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAOAbGae5wg]

Check out their foray into science fiction spoofery with their version of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, with Jennifer Saunders once again doing Liam Neeson: Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGpVj3pGdUk]

If you love — or love to hate — everything Mamma Mia!, you will really enjoy this long spoof with guests stars Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Sienna Miller and Matt Lucas (Little Britain), among others.  Saunders does a terrific Meryl Streep!  Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1inN936HpJc&feature=related]

Another big favorite is their Cold Mountain parody “Cold Turkey” – with Jennifer as Nicole Kidman and Dawn French really giving it to Renee Zellweger in her role as the ridiculously rambunctious mountain gal.  This one is done as a DVD commentary on the film by Kidman.  Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE4dyN4tPqo]

They’re a little more dramatic but no less silly in their take-off of The Silence of the LambsDirect Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv1vWL7_D5I&feature=related]

Again they play some kind of versions of themselves in this Misery spoof:  Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4svq2YLvV4&feature=related]

Let’s watch them take on The Exorcist: Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epzC88bzghA&feature=related]

And get stranded on the beach in (and with) The Piano: Direct Link is Here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LyL2trGcO0&feature=related]

And you don’t want to miss Jennifer Saunders doing Marlene Dietrich singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Direct Link is Here, which is based on Dietrich’s real version.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRKLTbS8w5M]

Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French have years of comedy history together, and I highly recommend seeking out their material (including several subsequent sitcoms) together and apart.  They are always tremendous performers and absolutely the equals of any of their illustrious British male comedy colleagues, and they loved the movies, too!

28 Responses French & Saunders Do The Movies Their Way
Posted By Tom S : July 31, 2011 8:37 pm

They do the voices of the batty old ladies in Coraline- they’re great, but it’s easy not to notice them because the voice cast is so full of ringers (like my favorite, John Hodgman.)

Posted By Tom S : July 31, 2011 8:37 pm

They do the voices of the batty old ladies in Coraline- they’re great, but it’s easy not to notice them because the voice cast is so full of ringers (like my favorite, John Hodgman.)

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 1, 2011 10:37 am

You’re right, I know who they are, separately, but I didn’t know about this. They’re terrific! A great collection of clips to start off with, and now I’m going to seek out more.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 1, 2011 10:37 am

You’re right, I know who they are, separately, but I didn’t know about this. They’re terrific! A great collection of clips to start off with, and now I’m going to seek out more.

Posted By medusamorlock : August 1, 2011 2:19 pm

Hi all! I don’t know if it’s just my browsers — I’ve tried on IE, Safari and Chrome – but sometimes the YouTube clips come up and more often they don’t. Not sure what the problem is but I apologize and if it persists I’ll post the direct link. Really annoying!!!

Posted By medusamorlock : August 1, 2011 2:19 pm

Hi all! I don’t know if it’s just my browsers — I’ve tried on IE, Safari and Chrome – but sometimes the YouTube clips come up and more often they don’t. Not sure what the problem is but I apologize and if it persists I’ll post the direct link. Really annoying!!!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 1, 2011 2:20 pm

They’re not coming up for me either but they did show up the first time, fortunately, so I was able to watch all of them.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 1, 2011 2:20 pm

They’re not coming up for me either but they did show up the first time, fortunately, so I was able to watch all of them.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 1, 2011 2:21 pm

I take that back, now they are coming up. It seems if I refresh my browser they appear. Hopefully, that will work the same for everyone.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 1, 2011 2:21 pm

I take that back, now they are coming up. It seems if I refresh my browser they appear. Hopefully, that will work the same for everyone.

Posted By medusamorlock : August 1, 2011 2:31 pm

Not working for me right now, but I’ve put in the Direct Links. I recall that there was a problem like this in the past with YouTube vids and Morlocks and WordPress. Hope it resolves! Thanks for experimenting, Greg!

Posted By medusamorlock : August 1, 2011 2:31 pm

Not working for me right now, but I’ve put in the Direct Links. I recall that there was a problem like this in the past with YouTube vids and Morlocks and WordPress. Hope it resolves! Thanks for experimenting, Greg!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : August 1, 2011 6:14 pm

They’re so funny! Thanks for sharing links to all these great clips. I read that Jennifer Saunders is supposedly shooting new episodes of Ab Fab this month w/Joanna Lumley and I hope we get to see them soon.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : August 1, 2011 6:14 pm

They’re so funny! Thanks for sharing links to all these great clips. I read that Jennifer Saunders is supposedly shooting new episodes of Ab Fab this month w/Joanna Lumley and I hope we get to see them soon.

Posted By Jenni : August 1, 2011 10:31 pm

Jennifer Saunders also did great voice work on the animated movies, Shrek, as the evil fairy godmother.

Posted By Jenni : August 1, 2011 10:31 pm

Jennifer Saunders also did great voice work on the animated movies, Shrek, as the evil fairy godmother.

Posted By Medusa Morlock : August 2, 2011 8:17 am

I don’t know what’s the problem with the clips! More of these ladies, singly or together, would make so many of us very happy!

Posted By Medusa Morlock : August 2, 2011 8:17 am

I don’t know what’s the problem with the clips! More of these ladies, singly or together, would make so many of us very happy!

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : August 2, 2011 5:53 pm

And let’s not forget their “Dr. Quim, Medicine Woman.”

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : August 2, 2011 5:53 pm

And let’s not forget their “Dr. Quim, Medicine Woman.”

Posted By DBenson : August 2, 2011 7:26 pm

I recall a bit where Saunders was Scarlett O’Hara doing the big “I’ll never be hungry again” moment. She freezes in an iconic pose and just holds it as French, in blackface, inexplicably but energetically performs “It’s Raining Men” in the background.

Posted By DBenson : August 2, 2011 7:26 pm

I recall a bit where Saunders was Scarlett O’Hara doing the big “I’ll never be hungry again” moment. She freezes in an iconic pose and just holds it as French, in blackface, inexplicably but energetically performs “It’s Raining Men” in the background.

Posted By iluvcinema : August 9, 2011 8:13 pm

Their movie skits/spoofs are comedy gold. I own a few of their DVDs of skits.

Posted By iluvcinema : August 9, 2011 8:13 pm

Their movie skits/spoofs are comedy gold. I own a few of their DVDs of skits.

Posted By iluvcinema : August 9, 2011 8:30 pm

oh and they did harry potter too!

Posted By iluvcinema : August 9, 2011 8:30 pm

oh and they did harry potter too!

Posted By leopardgrrl1 : August 11, 2011 7:24 pm

Thanks so much for gathering these. I’ve seen some French & Saunders, including their hilarious Harry Potter send-ups. The Hollywood parodies reminded me of the wonderful Carol Burnett Show movie spoofs. I think they might have been my first exposure to classic film. I’ve always hoped that Carol’s parodies would be collected on DVD at some point.

Posted By leopardgrrl1 : August 11, 2011 7:24 pm

Thanks so much for gathering these. I’ve seen some French & Saunders, including their hilarious Harry Potter send-ups. The Hollywood parodies reminded me of the wonderful Carol Burnett Show movie spoofs. I think they might have been my first exposure to classic film. I’ve always hoped that Carol’s parodies would be collected on DVD at some point.

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