Withnail and I


With the passing of British actor Richard Griffiths, I can’t help but reflect back on the impact the film Withnail and I had on Thomas Video.

After reading great reviews in the British press, I purchased my first copy of Withnail and I on VHS in 1988 for the princely sum of $112.59 plus GST.  Today it is hard to believe that movies cost that much but in the 80’s and most of the 90’s, that was the reality of the video industry.

The film didn’t rent the first day. Nor the second. But on the third a friend picked it up and rented it. Returning the next day, he was overwhelmed with enthusiasm. “You need to see this. It’s brilliant. This is the best fu%$ing film I’ve ever scene!”.

And with that outburst, the word was out.

Within days, the films popularity rose to make it our number one renting movie. It stayed at the top for almost ten years generating almost $5,000 in sales.

I kept that original VHS copy till 2006 when it was auctioned it off to help finance my run for City Council. (Don’t worry, we still carry Withnail and I on DVD. It has been reissued by Criterion)

In a way no other film has been able to capture, Withnail and I embodied the essence of what made Thomas Video Guelph’s favorite movie store for over 30 years.

Quirky, British, black comedy, edgy, cult, tragic, booze infused, pounding 60’s soundtrack and fiercely independent.

“There is a drinking game associated with Withnail and I. The game consists of keeping up, drink for drink, with each alcoholic substance consumed by Withnail over the course of the film. All told, Withnail is shown drinking roughly nine and a half glasses of red wine, half a pint of cider, one shot of lighter fluid (vinegar or overproof rum are common substitutes), two and a half shots of gin, six glasses of sherry, thirteen glasses of whisky and half a pint of ale.”  Thanks Wikipedia. Glad we didn’t try that at home. 

“Look at my tongue. It’s wearing a yellow sock.”    ian




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