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The second best comedy ever made, Monty Python and the Holy Grail must give precedence only to the same team's masterpiece, The Life of Brian (1979). Even though most of this film's set-pieces are now indelibly inscribed in every Python fan's psyche, as if by magic they never seem to pall. And they remain endlessly, joyfully quotable: from the Black Knight ("It's just a flesh wound"), to the constitutional peasants ("Come and see the violence inherent in the system!") and the taunting French soldier ("Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"). Not forgetting of course the migratory habits of European and African swallows...
The film's mock-Arthurian narrative provides a sturdy framework for the jokes, and the authentic-looking production design is relentlessly and gloriously dirty. The miniscule budget turns out to be one of the film's greatest assets: Can't afford horses? Use coconuts instead. No money for special effects? Let Terry Gilliam animate. And so on, from Camelot ("it's only a model") to the rampaging killer rabbit glove puppet. True it's let down a little by a rushed ending, and the jokes lack the sting of Life of Brian's sharply observed satire, but Holy Grail is still timeless comedy that's surely destined for immortality.