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More than 40 years after Monty Python and the Holy Grail was released, a treasure trove of material has been uncovered that features sketches, characters and even an entire ending that never made it into the final film.
Michael Palin’s private archive, deposited at the British Library in London, is set to go on display to the public later this month, but The Times of London reports that its contents includes several major unseen scenes written by Palin and Terry Jones, his writing partner in the Monty Python group, whose other members included Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail famously ends abruptly when King Arthur (Chapman) is arrested by police just minutes before a final climactic battle. However, according to The Times, Palin’s draft scripts show that this decision was only made to cut costs, and that a mighty fight was due to take place between the knights of Camelot, the French and also the killer rabbit of Caerbannog (a much-loved character from a previous scene).
Palin’s scripts also show that a key character from the film, the Black Knight (of the often-quoted “Just a flesh-wound” fame), may also have been joined by the Pink Knight, standing in a “slightly camp pose” and telling King Arthur that he may only cross a bridge after he gives him a “kiss on the lips.”
According to the minutes of the script meeting, the sketch would highlight Arthur’s “very old-fashioned and defensive attitude” toward homosexuality.
However, Palin said he didn’t think the sketch would be written today, telling The Times that “the establishment attitude has changed quite a lot.”
He added: “When we were writing Python in 1973, there was much more homophobia — or rather not homophobia exactly, but awkwardness of dealing with the whole subject of homosexuality.”
In the end, the Pink Knight was scrapped because he was too similar to the Black Knight, and in doing so film history was made.
In another, entirely unused, scene — one that reads more like a Monty Python sketch than anything to do with the Holy Grail — a parched man enters a Wild West saloon, which unfortunately for him has been turned into a bookshop (“the last bookshop before you get to Mexico.”).
When he insists that he needs a drink, he’s urged to try the local Native American trading post, but is then told it too is dry, having specialized in modern European literature. Finally, a group of bandits arrives, demanding a copy of Black Beauty before getting rowdy when it arrives in a poor state and riding off singing the praises of various publishing houses.
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