Today: April 14, 2024

Withnail & I: From Cult to Classic

There are films and there are films.  Films that grab you and worm their way into your psyche. Films whose knowledge of, you judge every new aquaintance by. Films that you quote on a daily basis. Films that speak to you on some deep, personal level. And, if you’re a booze-hound with a penchant for cake and deep heat, that film is Withnail & I.

Bruce Robinson’s semi-autobiographical film came out in 1987 and, to many fans, it remains the only funny film ever to come out of Britain. 

Titan’s latest film tie-in title, Withnail & I: From Cult to Classic, charts the rise and rise of an indie film that began life as “just thoughts really” and ended up as a permanent feature in every list of the Best British Films ever made.

For the first time, the surviving cast and crew have been interviewed about their parts in movie, and the lasting effect it’s had on their lives.

Withnail’s author and director Bruce Robinson, who provides an exclusive foreword, offers detailed insights into his creative process and influences. While new interviews with the film’s stars, Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, offer up personal reminiscences about the making of the film — and living with Withnail legacy.

You may think that you know all there is to know about Withnail & I, but Toby Benjamin’s new book is a veritable encyclopaedia of Withnailia. It’s packed with insight, interviews, and rants. Robinson’s own contribution is particularly noteworthy. But what makes this book so memorable is the love that Benjamin clearly has for a film that has always been much more than a funny movie about two drunk, out-of-work actors.

At its heart, Withnail & I is heartbreakingly sad — it’s a film about friendship, endings, and beginnings. It’s about growing up and having to leave the things that you love behind. And if you don’t cry at Richard E. Grant’s desperate take on Hamlet’s famous soliloquy at the end, then you haven’t understood the film at all. Fortunetely, Benjamin does understand it — and his book combines revelations with genuine affection for a movie with real magic at its core.

Illustrated throughout with never-before-seen photography and archive material, and featuring contributions from famous fans like Sam Bain, Margaret Cho and Charlie Higson, this is the definitive, must-have book on Withnail & I.

Withnail & I: From Cult to Classic by Toby Benjamin (ISBN 9781803362397) is out now from Titan, priced £39.99 / $50.00 in hardback.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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