A Fish Called Wanda

Character: Wanda Gershwitz

Directed by: Charles Crichton

Written by: John Cleese

Produced by: Michael Shamberg

Cast Members: John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin

Released date: July 29, 1988

Genre: Comedy, Crime

British gangster George Thomason (Tom Georgeson) and his hapless aide, Ken Pile (Michael Palin), draft a pair of arrogant Americans, grifter Wanda Gerschwitz (Jamie Lee Curtis) and weapons expert Otto West (Kevin Kline), for a massive diamond heist. When the job goes badly, Wanda attempts to seduce George's stuffy lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese), to find out where George hid the diamonds. Meanwhile, Ken repeatedly attempts to kill an elderly woman (Patricia Hayes) who witnessed the robbery.

Taglines

• A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge, and seafood.
• A New Comedy About Sex, Murder and Seafood.

Trivia

→ The role of Wanda Gershwitz was written for Jamie Lee Curtis.
→ Jamie Lee Curtis has pointed out that in several shots you can see her cracking up. For example, when Wanda Gershwitz and Otto West have their argument at the dockside (“To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people!”).
→ Jamie Lee Curtis was initially skeptical when John Cleese contacted her to offer the role of Wanda. She was convinced he really wanted to meet her husband Christopher Guest, whose film This Is Spinal Tap (1984) had just been released.

Character’s Quotes

♦ [after Otto breaks in on Wanda and Archie in Archie’s flat and hangs him out the window] I was dealing with something delicate, Otto. I’m setting up a guy who’s incredibly important to us, who’s going to tell me where the loot is and if they’re going to come and arrest you. And you come loping in like Rambo without a jockstrap and you dangle him out a fifth-floor window. Now, was that smart? Was it shrewd? Was it good tactics? Or was it stupid?
♦ Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?
♦ Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself.” And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.
♦ I’m sorry about my brother, Ken. I know he’s insensitive. He’s had a hard life. Dad used to beat him up.
♦ Aristotle was not Belgian, the principle of Buddhism is not “every man for himself”, and the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

Script developed by Never Enough Design