The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970)

The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970)

The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer





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Like Socrates of ancient Athens, Michael Rimmer (Peter Cook) of modern England believes the key to success is to ask the right questions. Lots of questions. So he gets a job with an advertising agency that conducts polls, rises swiftly through the ranks, and eventually runs the agency. Then he bombards England with questions. His ingenious system enables him to predict the outcome of a general election. (Every voter in England had received a questionnaire.) So accomplished is Rimmer at asking questions that he finds his future wife through market research. To insure that he gets the right answers, Rimmer is not above manipulating the polls. For example, when he asks residents of Coventry their religion, 95 percent identify themselves as Buddhists, thanks to an influx of Rimmer stooges. Then he enters politics. In a short time, he gets himself elected to Parliament, becomes a cabinet minister and eventually moves into Ten Downing Street as prime minister after pushing the incumbent prime minister off an oil platform. By this time, every eligible voter in Britain can cast ballots with a television remote control. Alas, the electorate tires of the endless referendum questions that they must answer as part of their daily routine. This development serves only to catapult Rimmer to further success, for the people decide to place all decisions in his hands as dictator of England. So Rimmer keeps rising and rising and rising. And asking questions. ~ Mike Cummings, Rovimore
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Peter Cook, John Cleese
In Theaters:


Peter Cook
as Michael Rimmer
Denholm Elliott
as Peter Niss
Ronald Fraser
as Tom Hutchinson
Vanessa Howard
as Patricia Cartwright
Graham Crowden
as Bishop of Cowley
Harold Pinter
as Steven Hench
Ronnie Corbett
as Interviewer
Dudley Foster
as Federman
Julian Glover
as Col. Moffat
Ann Beach
as Receptionist
Diana Coupland
as Mrs. Spimm
Percy Edwards
as Bird Impersonator
Michael Bates
as Mr. Spimm
Norman Bird
as Alderman Poot
Roland Culver
as Sir Eric Bentley
Elspeth March
as Mrs. Ferret
Dennis Price
as Fairbum
Show More Cast

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Audience Reviews for The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer

Sort of a darker cousin to "Being There" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," "The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer" is a 1970 satire about a man climbing through the ranks of commerce and politics with improbable speed. Happily, it's co-written by comedy legends Peter Cook (also the star), John Cleese and Graham Chapman. How could it miss?

Michael Rimmer strolls into an advertising firm one morning, and immediately unnerves the company with his eerie, smiling confidence. He announces that he has been hired to work in "coordination," but the possibility is left open that he is pretending -- everyone just accepts his word that he is a new employee. Once he has introduced himself, Rimmer (armed with intimidating stopwatch and clipboard) begins monitoring others' efficiency and arousing their insecurities. He even camps out in the restroom, watching other men use the facilities.

He focuses most on the polling department, and soon pressures the otherwise conservative group to launch a wide-ranging poll about sexual habits. The sensational results land him and the firm on the newspapers' front pages. Not content with this success, Rimmer goes even further, sabotaging a rival company by planting interviewees to skew the "random" data being gathered for a religious survey. Needless to say, the eventual conclusion -- that local Buddhists and Muslims greatly outnumber Church of England members -- does wonders to sink the competitor's credibility.

Major political forces soon notice Rimmer and recruit him as a consultant. He winds up in Parliament, continuing to find devious ways to elevate himself while setting up his peers to embarrass themselves. One of his more elaborate schemes involves government spies robbing a Swiss gold reserve -- they incapacitate the guards with aerosol cans that spray instant flu germs. He then engineers a cover-up lie about a vast gold discovery in the North Sea, and somehow blames Egypt for the heist. Inhabited with Cook's usual dead-eyed demeanor, Rimmer casually shrugs through these sinister triumphs.

The humor is not especially "Monty Python"-esque, and the gags may be subtler than you'll expect (though Cleese -- both he and Chapman have tiny parts -- inserts a random move around the 10-minute mark that's oddly similar to a "silly walk"). There's a fake commercial that's boldly suggestive by 1970 standards, an amusing Scrabble game where the words serve as sexual banter, a few good puns (Rimmer visits "Budleigh Moor," obviously a nod to Cook's comedy partner Dudley Moore) and some scattered quotable lines. Says someone of Rimmer: "He's ruthless, opportunistic, dishonest, shallow, evasive and unprincipled. But I'm still not sure he'll make a good leader."

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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