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A Private Function

A Private Function DVD Cover
Directed by Malcolm Mowbray
Produced by George Harrison
Denis O'Brien
Mark Shivas
Written by Alan Bennett
Malcolm Mowbray
Starring Michael Palin
Maggie Smith
Music by John Du Prez
Cinematography Tony Pierce-Roberts
Editing by Barrie Vince
Distributed by HandMade Films Ltd.
Release date(s) November 1984
Running time 94 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

A Private Function is a 1984 British comedy film starring Michael Palin and Maggie Smith. The film was predominantly filmed in Ilkley and Ben Rhydding, West Yorkshire.[1] The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.[2]



In a small Northern English town in 1947 the citizens endure continuing food rationing in the United Kingdom. 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.

Main cast and crew





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 Bettys 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.[3]


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.


External links


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