If there’s one film that deserves the be a contender to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room for Worst Film Of All Time then it really has to be Sam Mraovich’s feature film Ben & Arthur. Interestingly Ben & Arthur also holds the distinction of being one of the very few films that we’re actually shown twice at The Duke, a sign of just how incredibly entertaining this film is.
Made in 2002, a year before The Room, we stumbled up this cinematic outrage while browsing the Internet Movie Database Bottom 100, it’s one of the few films that truly deserves to be there, you see it’s simply inept in every single possible way. Many of the other films in that list are quite professionally made, which for us completely negates their spot on the list, but when it comes to Ben & Arthur you’ve got a film that simply defies any sort of formal filmmaking, it simply seems to exist in a world of its own, created from sheer magic by its mastermind: director, writer, producer, star Sam Mraovich.
Here’s Evrim‘s view on the film:
“I knew I’d found one of my favourite films ever when Sam Mraovich’s Arthur goes for a job at strip joint and auditions. That scene captured every single thing I have ever loved about the film. Ben & Arthur is special – it belongs in a category of films where the usual obstacles that would stop most of us dead in our tracks are gamely conquered by a team of people who work hard to bring a vision to the screen.
Never in my entire movie-going career have I felt the necessity to belittle a movie – the charm of these special titles do not lie in the fact that it’s easy to laugh at them but rather in the fact that they defy everything we hold dear about filmmaking – like two fingers up at every rule devised ever.
What’s Ben & Arthur? It’s a thriller, a social commentary, a love story, a discourse on religious obsession – it’s a singular vision delivered through a tunnel so warped that no one emerges unscathed – it’s a brilliant entry into the magnificent world of its director, an uneasy journey which everyone owes to themselves to take once.
Most of all it’s one of my favourite special films – a one-kind-of-magic that will never repeat anywhere in the world – a world of picnic table churches, cardboard stained glass windows, melting guns, closeted Christian fanatics, disappearing lawyers and of Ben and his wonderful partner Arthur.
Watch it with someone you love as the old trade ads used to say.”
Now a great source of information about Sam and his work is the amazingly basic Ben & Arthur website that still exists over at Angelfire. On it you can find the original Ben & Arthur script, other unproduced scripts by Sam, including the truly incredible The Attorney, along with the really big news that Sam has actually shot and completed another film: Steve’s Hollywood Story. Sadly not even a still from this film seems to exist anywhere and we’ll just have to hope the one day this sophomore effort from Sam emerges somewhere.
You’ll also find an interesting recurring theme that seems to dominate the website; that of Sam trying to get his films nominated for Oscars, his requests for Academy members to support his films litter the website. One thing’s for sure, if there was an Oscar award for sheer entertainment value, Ben & Arthur would actually stand a fairly strong chance of winning. To Sam we salute you!