A fish called Wanda

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title A fish called Wanda
Original title A Fish Called Wanda
Country of production USA
original language English
Publishing year 1988
length 108 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
JMK 16
Director Charles Crichton
script John Cleese
Charles Crichton
production Michael Shamberg
music John Du Prez
camera Alan Hume
cut John Jympson

Successor  →
Wild Creatures

A Fish Called Wanda is a crime comedy by Charles Crichton and John Cleese from 1988, in which a successful jewel theft results in hair-raising entanglements for the four protagonists and others. The heist movie , intertwined with a romance , presents itself as a fast-paced and imaginative comedy with black-humor , farce and screwball elements. In its creation and cast, a British-American joint effort, the film also plays with the common clichés that circulate across both cultures.

Numerous prizes also meant appreciation by expert jurors, for example at the BAFTA , Golden Globe and Academy Awards in 1989. Oscar winner for best supporting actor was Kevin Kline . Oscar nominations were made in two other categories - one for the best original screenplay that Cleese and Crichton had developed over several years of joint work, the other in the category best director for Crichton alone, who had previously "paused" as a feature film director for 23 years. A fish named Wanda was his biggest hit and his last film at the same time.


A strange criminal quartet comes together in London to steal millions of dollars in booty: the smug chief thug George and the loyal, stuttering animal welfare activist Ken, who are English, as well as two Americans: the attractive Wanda and her lover Otto , who appears as her brother, loves martial arts and weapons and often demonstratively reads Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra . After a successful attack, the struggle for the prey begins. The cunning Wanda, who plays with her charms and the restricted men, seems to be holding the strings in her hand. With an anonymous phone call to the police, she first disembarks George and is about to put Otto in the cold too after the Georges safe where the stolen diamonds were supposed to be deposited has cracked. The safe is empty, however, and George has moved the stolen goods to another location. Wanda visits him, feigning sympathy, in custody , but he doesn't trust her, and even less Otto. He turns on his assistant Ken, who sinks the safe key in a small box in his aquarium. Wanda, in turn, watches him and hides the key in the pendant of her necklace. Of course, neither does Ken know where the associated safe is.

In order to find out, she, disguised as a law student, now uses her seduction skills against George's defense attorney Archie. The husband of a completely ignorant wife, hungry for praise and love, falls for her charm in an instant. A number of entanglements follow. Wanda loses her follower on a visit to his house; Archie's unexpected wife thinks he's a present to herself; Otto, who jealously watches over Wanda's every step, humiliates Archie, whereupon she demands of her partner to apologize immediately; Back at Archie's house, Otto discovers a burglar and knocks him down, but is horrified to discover that it is none other than Archie himself who faked the break-in in order to recapture the trailer for Wanda, which his wife did not want to give back. Meanwhile, George has called on Ken's services again to get rid of the only witness who saw him near the crime scene. Pending an acquittal, he instructs Ken to buy plane tickets and tells him where the safe is. The trial ends in turmoil after Archie accidentally outed himself as Wanda's lover and she, as defense chief witness, turned George over to the knife a second time.

The showdown begins in George's apartment. Otto has tied Ken to a chair and is eating his aquarium fish one by one - in the end even Ken's favorite Wanda - in order to squeeze out the location of the safe from him. Shortly afterwards Archie also learns that it is the Cathcart Towers Hotel near Heathrow , who has decided to leave for South America with Wanda and the booty. He frees Ken, but has to make do with his scooter for the onward journey to Heathrow , as Otto has hijacked Archie's car and Wanda. Wanda duped her "brother" at the airport, knocked him unconscious and escaped with the diamonds. Back in his senses, Otto runs into Archie, outsmarts him and is about to shoot him, but wants to humiliate him again beforehand by letting him climb into a barrel full of used oil on the tarmac and mocking him. He also mocks Ken, who, lusting for revenge, heads straight at him with a huge steamroller; too late he notices that he is stuck in a fresh layer of concrete and is run over. Archie rushes to the machine in Rio and joins Wanda. Through the window you can see the wonderfully resurrected, grim-looking Otto, who finally, defeated by the wind, has to let the plane and the couple go, who according to the credits are starting a large family with 17 children in their new home.


John Cleese and Charles Crichton , the co-authors of the script and de facto co-directors, were on the verge of making a film together as early as 1969. When, more than a decade later, they were commissioned to develop instructional videos for business management, they took the opportunity to put their project into practice and brainstormed to collect ideas for a feature film. After a promising start, they agreed on a fixed rhythm: They had a joint working week followed by a two-week break in which they wanted to open up new ideas independently of each other. Crichton praised this form of cooperation on the grounds that everyone could contribute their special talent.

To their individual handwriting nor its specific character came through two very different "schools" to the British humor: Crichton was in the postwar years one of the pioneers of the London Ealing Studios incurred comedies , Cleese a generation later a founding member of Monty Python . Crichton's most famous film from that time was Luck Overnight . Its genre alone - a heist movie in the guise of a comedy - signals that a fish named Wanda thrived on familiar soil. At least he, according to Cleese, only became aware of this at the moment when he was asked about Wanda's relationship to the Ealing comedy - and spontaneously confirmed them, as did Crichton.

Cleese already had the constellation for the main characters in him when he started working on the script. It came from a theatrical experience that had made him laugh like no other in 1962 before and after. It was a play with four comic characters (characters with different comics) - a constellation that, from Cleese's point of view, allowed so many combinations that boredom seemed impossible. He did it for Wanda . He designed the part that he intended for himself with a view to the American audience: the lawyer Archie Leach as the cliché of what they saw as “typically British”. The second of the quartet was also at least nominally certain early on: Michael Palin , one of his closest colleagues from Monty Python.

Cleese came into contact with Kevin Kline on the recommendation of the later Wanda producer Michael Shamberg and quickly became friends with him. Kline says that Cleese lured him into playing the "badest man in the world" and then let him find out for himself whether his self-image (genius) or the judgment of others ("stupid") comes closer to the truth. Two months before shooting began, Cleese decided to go through the script alone with Kline in a relaxed atmosphere. The ten days in Jamaica were very productive for both of them. Kline was a "player". Each sample turned out differently because he discovered a lot spontaneously without a prior plan, including gestures like Otto's sniffing in his armpit, as well as original phrases like the unexpected "I'm disappointed " at the sight of the empty safe - all things like that Cleese that a scriptwriter would never think of at a desk.

It was planned in advance that a woman would complete the quartet; that it would not become British was decided relatively late. Following a film tip from his daughter, Cleese saw Jamie Lee Curtis on the screen ( The Soldiers of Fortune ) and was immediately gripped by her energy. With the engagement of two Americans - for two of the four main roles - a whole new dynamic emerged. In the two weeks of rehearsal that preceded filming, Curtis was the one who responded the most to Cleese's encouragement to come up with ideas ( We're all going to direct this ). For her part, Curtis was full of praise for the collaborative effort - a new experience for her - and Palin rewarded her personal contribution by giving her a T-shirt that said Wait! I have an idea!

Cleese summed up that although the idea for the film went back to him personally, the gradual development was inspired by many people with whom he had interacted. Thirteen people contributed to the text of the script alone. It also went through as many drafts before it was satisfied. The preproduction process took around four years and cost approximately $ 150,000, for which Cleese personally paid.


Filming could begin in the summer of 1987. However, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's point of view, giving the 77-year-old Crichton sole direction was not entirely harmless. His age was only one thing; In addition, there was his long abstinence from what he was hired for: For the past 23 years he had made TV shows and short documentaries , but no feature film. It was therefore decided to use Cleese as co-director (without naming) so that he, although inexperienced himself, could step in in an emergency. This case did not occur. Their division of labor, which already worked well when writing the script (Cleese more on the language, Crichton more on the visual), continued both on the set : Cleese took over the communication with the actors, Crichton determined the practical process.

As a director he hadn't forgotten anything. The brisk pace he set was surprising. He didn't make a second or third take if the first worked. You could see he knew exactly what he wanted. Cleese says he filmed in a way that seemed like he wanted to "capture the essence of every scene." In his audio commentary, he repeatedly draws the viewer's attention to the economy with which Crichton directed. The camera and superstructures served him well. This made longer takes possible, and that in turn put the actors in the spotlight, challenging their performance and at the same time appreciating them.

The fact that two reshootings were still scheduled was due to the results of the previews , which were discussed with each other and with outsiders. One was the lack of a love story . At this point you gave in completely (see genre , penultimate section). The other touched on the question of where black humor might have gone too far. Here one was guided primarily by the immediate reactions in the auditorium. Cleese describes a moment in which the audience was literally frozen: In the first version they had shown the death of the second, run-over dog too clearly through giblets from a butcher shop ... They changed that, but not other things, such as the one Torture that Ken has to endure from Otto, and the fact that animals are killed at all. Both, according to Cleese, had been violently attacked, whereas neither was offended by the why and how of Ken's attempted murder of an innocent old lady.

Beginning on July 13, 1987, the film was shot within 10 weeks (including the reshootings) at Twickenham Studios and various locations in London and Oxford . The cost of production was $ 7.3 million.


The German dubbed version was created for the cinema premiere at Berliner Synchron, based on the dubbing direction and dialogue book by Arne Elsholtz , who also lent Otto his voice.

The German version has been toned down at one point in the dialogues. Otto says in one scene that the English would have been defeated by the Germans in World War II without American help and would have to constantly listen to marching music . In the German version he imitates the sounds of wind instruments and drums, while in the original version he sings the first line of the Deutschlandlied , “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”.

role actor German Dubbing voice
Archie Leach John Cleese Thomas Danneberg
Wanda Gershwitz Jamie Lee Curtis Uta Hallant
Otto Kevin Kline Arne Elsholtz
Ken Pile Michael Palin Michael Nowka
Wendy Leach Maria Aitken Kerstin Sanders-Dornseif
George Thomason Tom Georgeson Peer Augustinski
Mrs. Coady Patricia Hayes Tilly Lauenstein
Judge Knott Geoffrey Palmer Edgar Ott
Hutchinson, airline passenger Stephen Fry Eberhard Prüter
Davidson Roger Brierley Hans Nitschke
Percival Michael Percival Reinhard Kuhnert

Film analysis


In his audio commentary, looking back more than a decade later, Cleese illuminates a number of scenes with a particular focus on the genre . For an author who is as explicitly committed to comedy as he is, the findings confirmed or newly gained are of particular interest. As a rule, he condenses them into thesis-like statements, mostly in a contrasting form: Not like this, but better like that .

One of the problems that bothered Cleese was getting the middle part of the plot meaningful for two of the main characters, Ken and Otto. What could she be doing while the romance between Archie and Wanda unfolds? For Otto, after going astray, the main solution was his jealousy. For Ken it only worked through pure logic. Based on the question of what is his essence and what is the opposite of it, the black-humored solution finally came up almost automatically: The animal lover par excellence becomes a triple animal killer by accidentally killing the old woman's dogs one after the other. Cleese's conclusion, which he was also happy to pass on to his students:

  • You don't always need a new idea; often the solution lies in what you already have.

An extra that Otto is literally “sealed” in the middle section is his sudden outing to Ken. Whether Ken believes that he is gay , whether he is afraid or not defending him more decisively out of sheer politeness (one of the clichés attributed to the English ) is of secondary importance. It is important that the viewer does not believe in it for a second. He would buy homophobia straight away from the avowed Anglophobe Otto, but not the opposite. As a spectator of the comedy, who looks distantly and deliberately at the events, he knows that nothing can happen between the two, that Otto plays out of calculation or pleasure, like Wanda to Archie. The fun for the viewer arises from a contrast that comes from the figure itself: What is someone? What is he pretending to be? Cleese's comment on this:

  • In order to dramatize a comedy plot, attempts are often made to construct conflicts between the characters; it is funnier to put them in them.

A scene that had already taken shape in Cleese's imagination without any concrete reference to the later script was that of a stutterer who wants to communicate something, starts the craziest attempts under high pressure and fails umpteen times until it somehow works and he immediately ends up Relief, even the blocked word slips out. On paper, the scene in which Ken Archie wants to explain the location of the safe also looked “wonderful”, and the Monty pythons Cleese and Palin played it with virtuosity. But it didn't work. In previews , Cleese found that the audience did not want to see her at the point. As part of the showdown , she was out of place. A much shorter version was therefore shot. Cleese's insight:

  • Critical to the comic effect is not whether a scene but whether it funny at this point really is.

Cleese is an avowed admirer of the farce , a sub-genre of comedy, and especially the “perfectly constructed” plays by Georges Feydeau , which are preferably set in the intimate home of fraudulent married couples. Based on her, he has the scene in Archie's study, in which the landlord briefly interrupts Wanda's hoped-for seduction to fetch champagne, but on his return finds his wife and daughter and now has to try to master the situation, which of course also includes Otto (visible) and Wanda (hidden) still intervene. Good farce, according to Cleese, usually shows relatively normal, respectable people in circumstances that put them under so much pressure that their behavior becomes increasingly strange. Bad, embarrassing-looking performances with unbelievable characters are much more common, however, because it is much more difficult to play a farce well than an ordinary comedy. His guiding principle:

  • The great art of the farce is to credibly portray absurd situations.

When it was the turn of the first romantic scene, Jamie Lee Curtis tried to get Cleese to play it without rehearsing. It was completely unfamiliar to him. Usually he rehearsed a scene until it "sat". As a result, he was able to play them exactly the same as often as he wanted, which amazed some. Sometimes, according to Cleese, he has the feeling that he has a metronome built into it. But that also requires the genre: the comedy, and even more so the farce, requires exact timing . Other qualities were now in demand in the upcoming romantic scene. Cleese followed Curtis' suggestion and discovered something new in himself: he could play what was important at the moment ; his “metronome” was switched off for the duration of the scene.

Originally, according to Curtis, the film was “much darker”; In the first version they had played with the knowledge that it was a black comedy . Test runs in front of an American audience, however, led to the critical objection that the love story for which the film gives hope will not be redeemed. Thereupon the suggestion of producer Michael Shamberg was implemented to make the looming relationship between Wanda and Archie the “emotional core” of the film. Some scenes had to be re-shot like this to authenticate the romance. That she turned the originally “black” into a romantic comedy (Cleese himself calls it that) is not judged by everyone.

Several sources see Wanda in the tradition of screwball comedy . One of them is even dedicated exclusively to trying to justify it. The following characteristics of this classic US-American film genre are considered to be fulfilled (and if necessary supplemented by a note on Wanda ): A female main character who dominates the relationship with the protagonist and challenges his masculinity (Archie is more adventurous); rapid reparteeism (in the dialogues and the plot); farce-like situations; Escapism (escape from present circumstances is a necessity for the jewel robbers, a chance for Archie to escape from his "bondage" in marriage and work); Advertise the opposite sex and get married.

England "versus" America

“I love robbing the English. You are so polite, "says the American Otto after the successful attack (initiated, planned and carried out by two Englishmen) - and thus opens up the" clash "of two cultures, which from then on, verbal and non-verbal, runs through the entire film . It wasn't intended from the start. Originally, Wanda was more like an homage to the rogue comedies of Ealing Studios . It was only with the engagement of Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis that there was a “ stalemate ” among the protagonists: two Brits and two Americans - a constellation which, according to Cleese, created a “non-stop friendly competition” on set and which changed the script in the direction of: vulgar Americans meet bourgeois English, or: British courtesy, which threatens to suffocate in itself, is harassed (liberated?) by American audacity.

The contrast in relation to sex is made clearest. In a sequence with two scenes cut into each other, the film shows how two couples do the same thing (going to bed) at the same time in very different ways: While Archie and his wife have separate beds in the English bedroom, turn away from each other in a civil manner and look at Archie in shame his sock sniffing, inhaling gasoline except his armpit also Wanda's boots and comes after a few more ritual clowning with her in the hotel bed outrageously directly "to the point".

Otto is undoubtedly the most colorful character in the film. Kline plays him in such a way that the viewer is torn back and forth. He is repulsive and admirable at the same time, acts as a villain, but acts dynamically and vitally like no other, mimes the clown and does it "dancing" with physical grace. Its external perception is similar to that of America: It doesn't leave you cold, it triggers emotional extremes such as love-hatefulness. Likewise his most striking verbal running gag ("Don't call me stupid !"). It reflects the inferiority complex of America compared to the mother country England: the accusation of intellectual and cultural poverty is countered with an impulse to impress and an attitude of power. - From Cleese's point of view , Otto symbolizes America's absurdities and excesses ; Kline himself thinks his character is based in part on Gordon Liddy , an ex- FBI agent and "stand-up man"; Others see him as a reincarnation of the cartoon character Pepe Le Pew , a lovesick skunk from Paris , whose courtship is amplified by the sexy-sounding French accent (Otto uses Italian phrases to seduce Wanda).

In terms of dynamism and the will to assert, Wanda is in no way inferior to her compatriot, is full of esprit and charm. Curtis says that she first shaped Wanda a little according to her taste : Created as a sexually shameless, ice-cold, greedy person, she made a woman who doesn't quite know what she wants herself and, above all, enjoys it, Manipulating and tricking people. As a calculating femme fatale , she is far superior to Otto. She is bursting with self-confidence and is free of any complexes. The film at least questions whether she is actually more educated than the pseudo-intellectual, because she concludes her angry listing of some of his faux pas (“ Aristotle was not a Belgian” etc.): “These were all mistakes on your part, Otto. I checked it out. ”Which means something like: She too has no knowledge of history and culture, so she, too, fulfills the common prejudice of the narrow-minded American.

Archie is the only one you get to know personally and at work. He is respected in the courtroom, but not at home. Here as there, however, he is “typically British”: stiff, formal, awkward, anxious, uptight - a capital rucksack that he only throws off when his wife announces his marriage, significantly not because he has a lover, but because he has her accidentally made it public. Duplicity of events: Before he bravely sets off into the unknown with Wanda, he experiences at least a semi-public humiliation when he is on the go to bed in the secret love nest and suddenly, stark naked, faces a strange family who also identifies him! (It was Curtis' idea that he and not her should undress in front of the camera, whereupon he hired a fitness trainer in order not to embarrass himself.) Cleese's audio commentary on this complex: “The main goal in the life of an Englishman - at least that lower middle class, which I come from - is to get safely to the grave without having to be exposed to great embarrassment on the way. "

The final “clash” is also associated with humiliation (the armed Otto forces Archie to step into a barrel full of rubbish), but she turns against the perpetrator. Archie endures the usual anglophobic abuse, but counters the accusation that he doesn't like “winners” with: “Winner? Like North Vietnam ? ”Otto's angry“ That was undecided! ”He now replies with mockery and apes the American accent on top of that . Otto succeeds in doing this with the English one, too, but does not relieve him of his anger, because he realizes that he has lost his feeling of superiority - before he finally loses everything to Archie: Wanda and the diamonds. The fact that he gets under Ken's steamroller beforehand (and thus frees the other Wanda's triumphant “avenger” from his stuttering ), but not also loses his life, is a solution that follows Cleese's definition of the farce (making the absurd plausible) and also retains the keynote in which the film stages the British-American "clash". One criticism sums it up as follows: "There are few films that are so based on national rivalry, and even fewer that have done it with so little resentment and so much warmth."


Wanda (first cast)
  • The 71-year-old Danish doctor Ole Bentzen literally laughed himself to death when he looked at a fish called Wanda in 1989 . Medically, the "happy heart failure" was explained by the fact that his laughter is said to have accelerated the contraction of the heart muscles so much that the organ was prevented from pumping enough blood to the brain.
  • When the scriptwriters first got together to exchange ideas for their joint film, they both expressed a desire to include a scene in it that they had "always wanted" to realize: Charles Crichton, that of a steamroller, and John Cleese that a stressful stutterer who desperately wants to tell someone something. - Both wishes were fulfilled, with the restriction that the stuttering scene was only suitable in a very shortened form within the showdown .
  • Michael Palin , who played the stuttering Ken, was predestined for the role because he could draw from family experiences: his father suffered from this disease all his life. In 1993, Palin took the opportunity to “make amends” by responding to a request and offering affected children what his father had been unable to do: to treat the condition, if not to cure it. He founded the Michael Palin Center for Stammering Children - a facility that is now also open to adults and has a double-digit team of therapists. Palin calls it the "most unexpected legacy" the film has made.
  • Crichton, whose 23-year hiatus as a feature film director was not entirely voluntary (they thought he was too old), liked to tell the anecdote that Hollywood , after Wanda's success, contacted one of its producers: They had a comedy and needed it a director, would that new young guy, Crichton, be interested? - It wasn't him. Most of the eleven years that remained was spent in Scotland , fly-fishing , his favorite pastime.
  • Every now and then Crichton appeared on the set in a T-shirt that Cleese had given him and that said: Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill . ( Age and deceit always find ways to conquer youth and ability )
  • The love story the film tells - an Englishman falls for an American woman who liberates him emotionally - is also based on Cleese's personal experiences: his three wives were all American.
  • Cleese was inspired by the character of Otto, with whom Kevin Kline won his Oscar , from a double-sided advertisement in a US magazine in which a guru advertised a weekend seminar with the slogan: Buddhism gives you the competitive edge . ( The Buddhism you provides the competitive advantage )
  • One of the numerous running gags around the figure of Otto goes back to Kline himself, who occasionally asked back during the preliminary talks with Cleese: What was the middle thing? ( What was that in the middle part? ) Kline's comment: "Maybe I'm Otto."
  • In response to criticism that her film showed cruelty to animals, Kline suggested that Cleese insert a statement in the credits that the animals in the film were treated humanely - in most cases.
  • In the scene where Otto and Wanda go to bed together, Jamie Lee Curtis hid her face in a pillow the entire time so as not to laugh at Kline's grimaces. In the same scene Otto recites any phrase in Italian to beguile Wanda. In the Italian synchro, he speaks Spanish instead (e.g. " Francisco Franco " instead of " Benito Mussolini "). Otto describes Wanda's breasts in the bed scene in Italian as “le due cupole grande della cattedrale di Milano” (“the two large domes of the Milan Cathedral ”); a dubious compliment as the Milan Cathedral does not have domes, but a gable roof.
  • At the funeral of the dogs, two choirboys sing: "Miserere domine (in the original incorrectly" dominus "), canis mortuus est" ("Have mercy, sir, the dog is dead").
  • Archie's daughter Portia is played by John Cleese's daughter, Cynthia , in the credits under Caylor , her grandmother's family name.
  • Towards the end of the film, English actor and director Stephen Fry has a brief guest appearance as Hutchison, whom Otto knocks down to take his ticket.
  • The name of the lawyer "Archie Leach" pays homage to the actor Cary Grant , who died in 1986 and whose real name was Alexander Archibald Leach . After breaking into his own house, Archie Leach leaves his surprised wife saying he urgently needs a conference. This is a nod to Cleese's film Clockwise .
  • The final remark, according to which Otto goes to South Africa and becomes Minister of Justice there, alludes to the anti- apartheid film Scream for Freedom , which was released the year before , in which Kline also embodied a (but clearly positive) main character.
  • During his visit to prison, Otto also offers George to kill a certain Kevin Delaney who is said to have betrayed him (George) to the police: Kevin Delaney is the full first name (first and middle name) of Kline - and in fact he was ( Otto) who denounced George so that he was alluding to himself. Furthermore, Otto poses to Archie's wife Wendy as a CIA agent named Harvey Manfrenjensenden , which is obviously modeled on the cover name " James St.John Smythe " (which sounds very similar when pronounced in English) , which James Bond used in the 1985 film " In the face of the Death ”(played by Roger Moore ).
  • In 1997, the cast worked again for the film Wild Creatures , in which there are numerous allusions to A Fish Called Wanda ; for example, Cleese Curtis calls "Wanda" instead of "Willa", as she is actually called in the last scene. - "It's an equal not a sequel", Kline announced earlier ("an equivalent film and not just a sequel "), which was not true. - When Cleese was asked a decade later what he would do otherwise if he could live his life again, he replied that two things he would not do again: marry his third wife and make wild creatures .
Wanda (valid cast)
  • The picture on the front cover of the DVD edition of Zweiausendeins comes from Wanda , but cannot be seen in the film. It shows Wanda's right foot with a shoe on which a (discreetly kept) shark motif can be made out. This was the final shot of the first version and should signal to the viewer: When she arrives in Rio , she makes just as short work of Archie as she did with the other men. - After evaluating the previews, it was decided against this ending and in favor of a happy ending.
  • The US movie poster showed five main characters rather than four. The fifth was the title heroine Wanda, albeit in the form of a mermaid . In the film, the animal Wanda is a tropical freshwater fish, a Pterophyllum scalare - at the beginning of the shooting a lemon-yellow specimen, after a few days replaced by a black and white, exactly what you see in the film, albeit far less often than the human Wanda .
  • The film literally allows itself the last joke with the very last word of the credits. In an English language film, you would expect The End at this point . Fin appears here . That also means “end” (French), but at the same time “fin” (English), which closes the circle with the title.


source rating
Rotten tomatoes

James Berardinelli said on ReelViews that when it comes to comedians, everyone has their favorite. His was John Cleese. A fish named Wanda represents the high point in the actor's film career and shows not only his comedic talent, but also those of the other actors. The script contained enough “hilarious” moments that the audience couldn't hold back laughing. The film is “outrageous”, “offensive” and even “a little sick” - and that's precisely why it is so amusing.

"A lot of situation comedy, an extremely playful ensemble and a successful German synchronization of the many word games ensure a film enjoyment that is barely clouded by a few roughness, in which Anglo-Saxon-dry and American-fast-paced jokes collide."

"The figure constellation of the script developed jointly by Crichton and Cleese is grandiose and also convincing in the cast [...] The fast-paced staging succeeded [...] with flying colors [...] The collaboration between the two [Crichton and Cleese] combines Ealing tradition and Monty Python's talent for a comedic mastery that quickly achieved cult status for the film. "

- Kerstin-Luise Neumann

"The big plus point of the script is undoubtedly that it juggles with both British and American clichés and the two very different cultures and plays both off against each other in a completely unabashed way."

The German Film and Media Assessment FBW in Wiesbaden awarded the film the rating “particularly valuable”.


  • Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Kevin Kline)
    Further Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay
  • Golden Globe Award nominations in the categories of Best Film - Comedy / Musical , Best Actor - Comedy / Musical (John Cleese), Best Actress - Comedy / Musical (Jamie Lee Curtis)
  • BAFTA Awards in the categories of Best Actor (John Cleese) and Best Supporting Actor (Michael Palin)
    nominated in seven other categories
  • David di Donatello in the Best Foreign Film category
  • Golden screen in Germany for success at the box office

21st on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Best English Language Comedies . The British Film Institute voted A Fish Called Wanda # 39 in 1999 for Best British Films of All Time .

Editions (selection)

  • Twentieth Century Fox , 2006 (DVD and Blu-ray). Languages: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish. US trailer, 8-page booklet.
  • Two thousand and one , 2010 (DVD). Languages: German, English. Audio commentary by John Cleese, trivia track, unused and changed scenes.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for a fish named Wanda . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , October 2004 (PDF; test number: 60 970 V / DVD).
  2. Age rating for a fish named Wanda . Youth Media Commission .
  3. ^ Myrna Oliver: Charles Crichton, British Director of Movie Comedies , in: Los Angeles Times , September 16, 1999 (English), accessed July 9, 2018
  4. a b c d Anna Green: 11 Fun Facts about A Fish Called Wanda , in: Mental Floss , August 29, 2017 (English), accessed on July 9, 2018
  5. Tom Vallance: Obituary: Charles Crichton , in: The Independent , September 16, 1999 (English), accessed July 9, 2018
  6. a b c d e f g h i j John Cork: Making of A Fish Called Wanda . MGM Home Entertainment Inc., 2003.
  7. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n audio commentary by John Cleese (English), Two Thousand One Edition, 2010
  8. a b Darryn King: The Oral History of A Fish Called Wanda. , in: Vanity Fair , July 12, 2018 (English), accessed on July 19, 2018
  9. a b c d e f g h i j Trivia Track (English), Zweiausendeins Edition, 2010
  10. a b c A Fish Called Wanda in the American Film Institute database , accessed on July 9, 2018
  11. a b Sex, cruelty, comedy, and the cast in A Fish Called Wanda. , in: dissolve, April 30, 2014 (English), accessed July 19, 2018
  12. German synchronous index: German synchronous index | Movies | A fish called Wanda. Retrieved April 19, 2018 .
  13. Reproduction in own, analogous transmission
  14. ^ John Cleese: How to write the perfect farce. , in: The Guardian , February 17, 2017, accessed July 19, 2018
  15. a b Our take on: A Fish Called Wanda. , in: Lisle Library, December 19, 2015, accessed July 19, 2018
  16. ^ Frank Calvillo: Screwball Done Right. , in: cinapse, December 6, 2017, accessed on July 19, 2018
  17. Tasha Robinson: Keynote: Finding A Fish Called Wanda's successes in Fierce Creatures' failures. , in: dissolve, April 29, 2014 (English), accessed on July 19, 2018
  18. Cleese himself uses “English” and “British” synonymously , at least in the context discussed here.
  19. a b c d Mike d'Angelo: The ugly, lovable Americans of A Fish Called Wanda. , in: dissolve, May 1, 2014 (English), accessed July 19, 2018
  20. Michael Palin: 'The King's Speech' is my family's story, too , in: The Telegraph, January 11, 2011, accessed July 9, 2018
  21. Oh, by the way, the name is St John Smythe. James St John Smythe In: getyarn.io . Scene from "James Bond: A View to a Kill (1985)"
  22. Michael Winner: Restaurant review: Michael Winner at Villa Principe Leopoldo, Switzerland. In: Sunday Times . July 6, 2008 (English, fee required).;
  23. a b A fish named Wanda at Rotten Tomatoes , accessed March 6, 2015
  24. a b A fish named Wanda at Metacritic , accessed March 6, 2015
  25. A Fish Called Wanda in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  26. Film review by James Berardinelli
  27. ^ A fish named Wanda in the Lexicon of International FilmsTemplate: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used , accessed November 4, 2008
  28. in: Classic films, descriptions and comments / ed. by Thomas Koebner […], Vol. 4: 1982–1994, Reclam, Stuttgart 1995 (Universal-Bibliothek; 9419), ISBN 3-15-009419-4 , pp. 260–263.
  29. Jens Adrian: A fish called Wanda Filmkritik, August 17, 2003, accessed on July 9, 2018
  30. A fish named Wanda on fbw-filmbeval.com, accessed on August 18, 2019