By Erin Richter
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:50 AM EDT
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Withnail and I

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Well on the road to drunkville after downing his half of ”two large gins, [and] two pints of cider,” a slurring, glassy-eyed Withnail (Grant), a hunk of pork pie peeking from his mouth, gazes in palpable horror upon the pub lug who’s just insulted his best chum (McGann). He feebly attempts to verbally disarm the threatening lout before he and his equally terrified friend run screaming for the door. Never before had the antics of two boozers been portrayed as charmingly and unapologetically as in Bruce Robinson’s semiautobiographical story of two unemployed British actors ambling toward their 30s — and the ’70s — in a haze of liquor and drugs.

Nor, perhaps, had they been acted so convincingly, considering nondrinker Grant (who improvised the pork-pie bit) toured the wasted-land just once, at Robinson’s request, after being cast in ”Withnail.” Grant and McGann made their big-screen debuts with this sherry-dry, comically subtle cult pic from first-time director Robinson (who received a 1984 Oscar nomination for scripting ”The Killing Fields”), and their filmmaking adventure begs for a raucous commentary. But the only behind-the-scenes refreshment featured on this crisp wide-screen DVD (supervised by director of photography Peter Hannan) comes in a 25-minute making-of doc from 1999 that includes interviews with the principals as well as with Robinson’s former flatmates. It just leaves one thirsting for more.

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Withnail and I

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