I just learned that in England "rising damp" means a building has moisture seeping up the walls from the ground. Learn something new every day. Rising Damp: The Movie, on the other hand, is a movie spun off from the popular Brit-com television show of the same name.
It is set in an apartment building run by a mean, tight-fisted, and lecherous landlord, Rupert Rigsby (played by Leon Rossiter), who has designs on the single Miss Jones (Frances de la Tour), a frustrated spinster looking for romance in every direction except Rigsby’s.
The main cast is rounded out by Philip (Don Warrington), the self-proclaimed son of an African chief with ten wives, and John (Christopher Strauli), his art student roommate. The star, however, is Rigsby. His dialogue sparkles and Rossiter plays him excellently.
Like the best of the Brit-coms, Rising Damp is filled with double entendres, slapstick, and bizarre situations that make for enjoyable viewing and out loud laughs. Rigsby manipulates the housing arrangements to ensure that the flat next to Miss Jones stays vacant so she can stay, to his mind, pristine. Vacant, that is, until Seymour (Denholm Elliott), a con man, manages to finagle his way into the flat and threatens Rigsby's plans. Suddenly Rigsby needs to find a way to win Miss Jones's heart. Philip and John are willing to help but their suggestions appear better suited to hinder rather than help Rigsby.
I have never seen the original show but found the movie worked well on its own. My wife, who is English, remembers the original and thought the movie did a good job, too. Personally, I found it hilarious. Because the movie comes from 1980 and the TV show is from the 1970s, I was a little shocked at some of the racial dialogue that at the time was quite normal but now would get a person punched or sued. A commentary on how the times have changed? Perhaps, but it did give me pause the first time I watched the movie. It did not cause me to enjoy the movie any less, though.
The DVD includes the original theatrical trailer, a photo gallery, and a cast filmography which I find useful because my favorite game to play when watching British shows is to guess where I have seen an actor before.
The DVD is being released by Acorn Media. If you are a fan of classic British comedy, you will love Rising Damp: The Movie.