Parting Shots

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Parting Shots is a 1999 film starring Chris Rea, Felicity Kendal, Oliver Reed, Bob Hoskins, Diana Rigg, Ben Kingsley, John Cleese and Joanna Lumley. It was the last film directed by Michael Winner.


The film concerns Harry Sterndale (Rea), a wedding photographer who is mistakenly told by his doctor that he has six weeks to live and begins to kill people who have wronged him in his life, only to find that the diagnosis was incorrect. Also he paid an assassin (Reed) to kill him instead of living out his last days in custody and nearly leaves it too late to call off the hit. The assassin takes after the two and after being arrested for assassinating the dictator of a fictional country he takes the blame for all of the murders that occurred during the film. It ends with Rea and Kendal visiting the assassin in prison as newlyweds.



Parting Shots was not well received by critics with Total Film‍ '​s review describing Winner's work as "offensive", "incompetent" and "bad in every possible way".[1] Andrew Collins gave a strongly negative review of the film: "Parting Shots... is going to set the course of British film-making back 20 years. It is not only the worst British film produced in this country since Carry On Emmannuelle (quite a feat in itself), it is a thoroughbred contender for the crown of Worst Film Ever Made".[2] In a hostile overview of Winner's films, Christopher Tookey claimed "Parting Shots is not only the most horrible torture for audiences that Winner has ever devised. It is also profoundly offensive, even by Winner's standards". Tookey described the film as a failure as a black comedy: "...not only does it lack a sense of humour. It's uniquely repellent. It's rather as Kind Hearts and Coronets might have turned out, had it been directed by Fred and Rosemary West".[3] Tookey also denounced Parting Shots as "the most tasteless, abysmal comedy of all time." [3] Interviewed about Parting Shots, Charlotte O'Sullivan, The Independent's film editor, claimed Parting Shots was "the worst film I've ever seen". O'Sullivan also took issue with the film for glorifying vigilantism: "It's Michael Winner and you know, he doesn't have any sense of irony. He seems to be saying it is okay to go and kill people".[4] The journalist Miles Kington later claimed "Parting Shots...was directed by Michael Winner and despite the glittering cast, was possibly the worst film ever made".[5] In its entry on Michael Winner, the book Contemporary British and Irish Film Directors claimed Parting Shots "makes a bold challenge for the hotly contested mantle of worst British film ever made." [6] British film historian I.Q. Hunter, discussing the question "What is the worst British film ever made?", listed Parting Shots as one of the candidates for that title.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Parting Shots review". 1999-05-14. Retrieved 2010-08-06. 
  2. ^ Andrew Collins, "How to Shoot a Real Turkey". The Observer, March 28, 1999. Observer Screen, p.6.
  3. ^ a b Christopher Tookey, "Michael Winner's latest film is his most offensive yet". The Daily Mail, May 11, 1999, (p.11).
  4. ^ "Winner's Turkey has a bad aftertaste." The Sunday Herald, May 2, 1999 (p.7)
  5. ^ Miles Kington, "One or two plots to occupy my declining years". The Independent, May 3, 2005, (p.30).
  6. ^ Contemporary British and Irish Film Directors: A Wallflower Critical Guide, edited by Yoram Allon, Del Cullen, and Hannah Patterson. Wallflower Press, 2001, ISBN 1903364213 (p.353).
  7. ^ I. Q Hunter, "From Window Cleaner to Potato Man" in British Comedy Cinema, edited by I.Q. Hunter and Laraine Porter. Routledge, 2012. ISBN 0415666678. (p.154)

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