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A Private Function

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Genre  Comedy
Music director  John Du Prez
Language  English
6.6/10 IMDb

Director  Malcolm Mowbray
Screenplay  Alan Bennett
Country  United Kingdom
A Private Function movie poster

Writer  Alan Bennett, Malcolm Mowbray
Release date  November 1984 (1984-11)
Cast  Michael Palin (Gilbert Chilvers), Maggie Smith (Joyce Chilvers), Richard Griffiths (Henry Allardyce), Denholm Elliott (Dr. Charles Swaby), Pete Postlethwaite (Douglas J. Nuttol), Tony Haygarth (Leonard Sutcliff the Farmer)
Similar movies  George Harrison produced A Private Function and The Missionary

A Private Function is a 1984 British comedy film starring Michael Palin and Maggie Smith. The film was predominantly filmed in Ilkley, Ben Rhydding, and Barnoldswick West Yorkshire. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.


A Private Function movie scenes


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In a small Northern English town in 1947 the citizens endure continuing food rationing. Some local businessmen want to hold a party to celebrate the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip and illegally decide to raise a pig for that occasion. However, the pig gets stolen by Gilbert Chilvers (Michael Palin), who was encouraged to do so by his wife Joyce (Maggie Smith). Meanwhile a food inspector is determined to stop activities circumventing the food rationing.


  • Michael Palin ... Gilbert Chilvers
  • Maggie Smith ... Joyce Chilvers
  • Denholm Elliott ... Dr Charles Swaby
  • Richard Griffiths ... Henry Allardyce the Accountant
  • Tony Haygarth ... Leonard Sutcliff the Farmer
  • John Normington ... Frank Lockwood the Solicitor
  • Bill Paterson ... Morris Wormold the Meat Inspector
  • Liz Smith ... Joyce's Mother
  • Alison Steadman ... Mrs Allardyce
  • Jim Carter ... Inspector Noble
  • Pete Postlethwaite ... Douglas J. Nuttol the Butcher
  • Rachel Davies ... Mrs Forbes, Mr Wormold's landlady
  • Production

    Three pigs were used in the filming of A Private Function, all named Betty. Producer Mark Shivas was advised by Intellectual Animals UK that the pigs used should be female and six months old so as to not be too large or aggressive. However, the pigs were "unpredictable and often quite dangerous". During filming of one of the kitchen scenes, Maggie Smith was hemmed in by one of the pigs and needed to vault over the back of it in order to escape.


    The film won three BAFTA Film Awards: best actress for Maggie Smith, best supporting actress for Liz Smith and best supporting actor for Denholm Elliott. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay (Alan Bennett) and Best Film.

    Musical adaptation

    A musical based on the film opened in the West End in April 2011, under the new title Betty Blue Eyes. It was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and ran for several months at the Novello Theatre. It starred Reece Shearsmith (of The League of Gentlemen fame) as Gilbert, and actress Sarah Lancashire as Joyce.


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