Life of Brian
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The following article originally ran in the Monday, Oct. 29, 1979, edition of the Albany Democrat-Herald.

"It is crude, vulgar, crass, offensive, brash, iconoclastic and, like a dirty joke, funny."

That's how one liberal religious publication describes the film "Monty Python's Life of Brian," an outrageous satire of Jewish-Christian traditions. The film opened in Albany last week.

A Biblical farce featuring the misadventures of an ordinary man who is repeatedly mistaken for the Messiah, the film has been assailed by national religious leaders as "blasphemous and sacrilegious."

The Monty Python troupe is a group of offbeat English comedians. In their last film they ridiculed legends about knighthood and chivalry in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

In "Life of Brian," the troupe tumbles through a series of scenes spoofing everything from the visit from the three wise men to the crucifixion.

The controversial film hasn't caused much stir in Albany, according to employees at the Albany Cinemas, 1350 Waverly Drive, where the film is playing.

Walt B. Gulich, theater manager, said he has received only seven or eight telephone complaints.

"People call in with some of the strangest stories they've heard about the film, but none of them has seen it," Gulich said.

Assistant manager Steve Sabatka, 18, has fielded many of those calls.

"This one lady called from Lebanon the other day and fumed, 'I've heard this this movie is pornographic and blasphemous.' I asked her if she'd seen it.

"'Well, no ... and I don't plan to,' she replied.

"Hey, nobody under 18 is allowed, and there's a sentence on the ad that says this movie may be offensive to people — I think we've got our bases covered," Sabatka said.

"But nobody has been a jerk about it. Heck, the more controversy it gets, the more money the movie will make."

Two religious leaders in Albany say condemning the film the film would only make it more profitable by focusing more attention on it.

"That sort of thing has been happening with increasing regularity," said Dwight J. Wadsworth, pastor of the First Baptist Church. "To get up in arms doesn't accomplish much. A lot of people who are Christians know when it is a misrepresentation of Christ.

"To ignore it is probably the best thing to do."

Dan Albrecht, associate pastor of the First Assembly of God Church in Albany, agreed.

"I'd say that young people especially may go because it's Monty Python, not because it's a satire of the Christian religion," said Albrecht, who said he likes some of the Monty Python skits on television.

Albrecht said he would have considered going to see the film although he doesn't usually go to R-rated films.

"But then I heard it was a satire of the life of Christ and I just felt I didn't want to see it," he said.

Theater manager Gulich said the film was "typical Monty Python humor, a little off-the-wall."

"I've seen the picture since we started getting phone calls and I thought it was hilarious," he said. "It's outrageous and there is some language that would offend some people. But there is in any R-rated picture."

He said no one has walked out in the middle of the picture.

"As a matter of fact, everyone comes out of there smiling and laughing," he said.

Thursday night the audience reaction was mixed.

Allan Tifft, 24, said that although he is a Christian he looks at the film as entertainment.

"I did think, though, it would have been just as funny without all the (obscene) language and the nudity," he said.

Barbara Egerman, 40, didn't enjoy it. She said it was ridiculous and didn't make sense.

Pat Poe, who is in her early 20s, thought it was funny.

"I enjoyed it," she said. "I didn't think it was directed toward religion as much as toward the people who try to interpret religion."

Patti Mefford, 21, who takes tickets at the theater, was philosophical about the film.

"My advice to people is: If you don't want to see it, don't come. We're not making you stay."

Gulich said "Life of Brian" would play as long as it draws an audience.

NOTE: Come on. You know you know the words.

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