John Cleese, Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers Trash Priceless Art (1969)

Here’s a curious scene from the 1969 cult film The Magic Christian. In the story, Peter Sellers plays an eccentric billionaire, Sir Guy Grand, who adopts a homeless man, played by Ringo Starr, and sets out to play a series of practical jokes on people, demonstrating that “everyone has their price.”

Sellers and Starr were at the hight of their fame when the movie was made, but John Cleese, who plays a snooty auction director at Sotheby’s, was still a few months away from the formation of Monty Python. The Magic Christian is based on a book of the same name by comedic novelist Terry Southern. Cleese and another future Python member, Graham Chapman, co-wrote an early version of the script, including this scene, which was not in the book.

The film was directed by Joseph McGrath and includes an assortment of bizarre cameo appearances, including Christopher Lee as a vampire, Racquel Welch as an S&M priestess and Yul Brynner as a transvestite cabaret singer. But perhaps the most enduring element of The Magic Christian is the hit song “Come and Get it,” which was written and produced for the film by Paul McCartney and performed by Badfinger.

You can watch the complete film here.

Related Content:

John Cleese’s Eulogy for Graham Chapman: ‘Good Riddance, the Free-Loading Bastard, I Hope He Fries’

John Cleese, Monty Python Icon, on How to Be Creative

Peter Sellers Gives a Quick Demonstration of British Accents

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