Henry Wilt is a teacher of liberal studies to students on day-release from the nearby pie factory. His night-time fantasies are full of ways in which to murder his bossy wife Eva. When she goes missing Police Inspector Russell Flint attempts to charge Wilt for the 'crime'...
Satirical comedy laced with much vulgarity. Great in its day - but now very dated
- Wilt review by RP
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Back in the days when I had a very long commute, I read an enormous number of books. The only ones that made me laugh out loud - always dangerous when surrounded by other commuters - were by Tom Sharpe: 'Porterhouse Blue', 'Blott on the Landscape' - and 'Wilt'.
The books are a strange mix of satirical comedy and slapstick humour, laced with much comic sexual innuendo, poking fun at certain British institutions and small-minded pomposity. I haven't picked up a Tom Sharpe book in years and I suspect the humour may be very dated now - but I happened to chance across the film version of 'Wilt'. It's now over 25 years since it was released, so - what's it like?
With comic duo Griff Rhys Jones and the late lamented Mel Rees, together with the always excellent Alison Steadman, this should be excellent stuff. And it is - but unfortunately the on-screen humour and vulgar comic antics (much use of an inflatable sex doll), poking of fun at minor academics and their dim-witted students and at dim-witted policemen is not as funny on screen as it is on the page. And the passage of time has made what was amusing in the mid-1970s (when the book was written) and late 1980s (when the film was made) seem very dated...
Just to recap the storyline: Lowly academic Henry Wilt (Griff Rhys Jones) is suspected of murdering his wife (Alison Steadman). Local plod (Mel Rees) digs up supposed body, only to find it's a blow-up doll. Err - that's it (well, there's more in the same vein, but you get the picture).
If I'd seen it 25 years ago I might have found it wildly funny. Now, it raised but a single smile (for what it's worth, a minor joke involving a Thermos flask). Nope, it's dated and unfunny, and the comic genius of the actors is fading with time.