In American Friends with Connie Booth and Trini Alvorado
end up as Bernard (‘ribbins or Des ()‘Connor.
Which makes you wonder why he‘s allowed his latest film. .‘lmen’cun friends. to be so oyerwhelmingly nice. and ultimately tedious. The film is based on an extract from Palin‘s greatgrandfather‘s diary. recounting how he met two American women on holiday in Switzerland. fell in i love and eyentually married one ofthem. ‘l did a little more digging into the subject and l found out that he had in fact thrown away his whole career at Oxford. because dons had to be bachelors.‘ explains Palin. ‘All the characters haye a firm historical basis. It's what happens to them that I‘ve inyented.‘
2| What happens to them isn‘t all that much.
‘ totellthetruth. certainly notenoughto
justify a whole moyie. Perhaps l’alin should haye been a little freer with the inyention. The two Americans (excellently played by (‘onnie Booth and Trini Alyarado) follow l’alin’s character Francis Ashby back to Oxford. and after plenty ofshilly-shallying. and more than a little mischief from Ashby‘s riyal don Syme (Alfred Molina). eyerything sorts itselfout reasonably well. and the old ladies in the audience can go home smiling. It‘s an unremarkable piece; pleasant. but dull and stilted. and rather shallow. It seems destined for the Sunday teatime TV and anodyne iii-flight moyie audience.
That said. American Friends" does represent a change of direction for Palm who plays the central figure. Francis Ashby. fairly straight. reminding us that Terry
Pure raw sex appeal in Around The World In Eighty Days
(iilliam called l’alin the only true actor ofall the Pythons. ‘I play a character who finds himself in quite a difficult spot. and is a 5 serious. almost seyere man. so that‘s yery much playing against the smile and the raised eyebrow and the cheery Michael l’alin ofoldf he says. Slapstick it certainly isn't. showing that l’alin has made a determined effort to ayoid broad comedy. ‘lt‘s quite a relief. in a sense. to get away from comedy.‘ he says enthusiastically. 'because writing comedy has to be one of those instinctiye things that haye to feel right. You haye to know that it’s all clicking together. I find that l‘ye done a lot of films that depended on jokes. and I wanted something that depended more on close examinations of characters. an intimate look j
The list 22 March A 4 April 1991 13