Monty Python and the Holy Grail came out in 1975 and even after 40 years, the film is still a comedic masterpiece with scene after scene of pure hilarity. While the whole thing is great, some scenes and their dialogue stand out above the rest and still serve as the source for the best comeback lines used today. Complete and total wit is hidden in the ridiculousness but fans of the comedy group knew what to expect and those who didn’t were pleasantly surprised by the satire, and the film became a worldwide hit.
Honorable Mention: Bring Out Yer Dead
The whole movie is funny and while there is a storyline incorporating the characters and their journey, some of the best clips are the aside stories that just mock instances and themes of life at the time. The deep social commentary provided in the “Bring Out Yer Dead” scene as well as perspective of mortality at the time, is again cleverly coded with an unbelievable interaction. “I’m not dead yet…I feel happy.” Check out the background of this scene too, just what is that old woman doing to that poor cat?
6. Constitutional Peasants
From start to finish this scene is nothing but the best of witty rhetoric and the satire of the divine rights of the monarchy. Dennis talking back to the “King” and having an educated opinion on the struggles of the working class could easily translate into a modern political science class but shines light on the absurdness of monarchy with the mocking of King Arthur’s “Lady of the Lake” tale. “Listen, strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony […] If I went around saying I was an Emperor just because some moistened bink lobbed a scimitar at me they’d put me away!” Then of course as Arthur grabs Dennis telling him to “Shut Up” we get the famous lines, “Ah. Now we see the violence inherent in the system. Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I’m being repressed!”
5. She’s A Witch
This scene yet again takes a common part of life in the Medieval times and shows just how absurd it was, which of course was exemplified with the witch-hunting of the time. Again, the comedy group shows not much good is going to be done when the leader of the common people (Sir Bedemir) isn’t much smarter than they are, not to mention it begins with monks hitting themselves in the head with boards. The whole thing is ludicrous but arguably the best line comes near the beginning of the whole debacle. “What makes you think she is a witch?” “What, she turned me into a newt!” “A newt?” “… I got better.” Classic.
4. Knights Who Say “Ni”
Undoubtedly still one of the most quoted scenes for no good reason other than it is just funny, “we demand a shrubbery” comes from the Knights who say “Ni.” Again, the intricacy that had to go into scripting a scene in which no one said the word “it” until the very end was extremely smart and worked into the hilariousness of the group and their trials and tribulations on the way to the Holy Grail.
3. The Black Knight
Slapstick and physical comedy was a trademark in film and television for a really long time before Monty Python got to it, but they still created the best scene of it in film history with this sketch. The Black Knight once again serves as a commentary on themes of the time this one being chivalry and loyalty of knights to the very….very end. The whole thing is very simple but very funny because after all, ” ‘Tis but a scratch.”
2. French Taunting
Without a doubt this scene has provided us for decades the best insults to hurl at someone you are disagreeing with and therefore has been quoted again and again. “I don’t wanna talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.” Classic.
Last and certainly not least is the setup for the entire film, a King without a horse using coconuts to imitate the sounds of horse hooves. This of course gives way to the infamous migrating coconuts discussion and more information than you would (seemingly) never need to know about the velocity of an unladen swallow. King Arthur does need to know this information for “the Bridge of Death” scene later on however.