The Beatles, Monty Python, Sean Madonna and Sean Penn – they’re just a few of the larger than life characters and they all help to make up Very Naughty Boys – The Amazing True Story Of Handmade Films . It’s a fast and furious read that chart the epic rise and monumental fall of Handmade films.
Author Robert Sellars clearly loves the topic and he fills his book with a lot of detail, augmented by some interesting (and often very funny) anecdotes. Very Naughty Boys shows how Handmade films went from being production shingle that was formed by George Harrison to make The Life Of Brian (for the simple reason that he wanted to see the film) to a shining beacon of Britain’s (often shaky) film industry.
The through-line of Very Naughty Boys is Denis O’Brien. Harrison’s former Manager and co-founder of Handmade films. He’s the villain of the piece, who went on to embezzle (at the very least) £20 million from the company. It’s difficult to ascertain if he was corrupt from the very start, or if the Hollywood dream claimed another honest soul – however, it’s probably best to believe that he was always of a dishonest persuasion.
Very Naughty Boys covers the often troubled production of a slew of great and not so great movies including The Life Of Brian, The Time Bandits, The Long Good Friday, A Private Function, Withnail And I, Mona Lisa and Shanghai Surprise to name but a few. The book shines a light on many of these films leading players – George Harrison (too trusting), Terry Gilliam (too passionate), Michael Palin (too placid), Madonna (too famous). Sean Penn (too ‘cuntish’) and Sean Connery (he’s not too anything, he’s Sean Connery).
Sellar’s book is the point where music and movies collide. It’s clear that Harrison was a wonderful man, who trusted everyone around him. It was the downfall of Handmade films as he left the nuts and bolt of the business to O’Brien, who ultimately took advantage of the former Beatle’s goodwill. Very Naughty Boys is filled with success and excess, showing Hollywood from the periphery. The book has embezzlement at its core, but it never gets bogged down with financial details.
Very Naughty Boys covers movies, music and comedy – there’s something for everyone who has even a passing interest in The Beatles, Monty Python and movies. Read it and enjoy it.