A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Not all of Richard Lester’s films were winners (he’s the guy responsible for Butch and Sundance: The Early Days and Superman III), but he did do Superman II and some of the funniest musical comedies ever put to screen. Lester is the man responsible for the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and Help, as well as this underrated gem. Zero Mostel stars as a crafty slave trying to buy his freedom in ancient Rome, and this is where Lester best displayed his incredible flair for physical comedy. It helps that he got a career-best performance from the great Mostel, but the way Lester times the pratfalls and one-liners is where this film shines. Great musical score from Stephen Sondheim, including the songs "Comedy Tonight" and my favorite in the film, "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid."