Monty Python's Life of Brian is one of the biggest comedy movies of the 1970s, and it's stood the test of time. Beloved by audiences worldwide, you pretty much can't sing the words "Always look on the bright side of life" without someone chiming in with the signature whistle from the end of the film.
After tackling Arthurian Myth with Monty Python and the Holy Grail four years prior, the kings of British comedy decided to tackle the story of Christ in their signature brand of absurd humor. It was the perfect match for their style, and the results continue to speak for themselves.
However, the movie had no shortage of issues getting made, with the biggest one coming right before the Pythons even began filming!
You see, the movie was being produced and financed by EMI Films, but when studio executives sat down and read the script, they pulled out of their involvement from it due to finding the story "blasphemous." Problem was, this happened a week before filming was to start, meaning the Pythons were ready to go, but suddenly had no money!
The group needed help, and it turned out they had a massive fan who was more than willing to help them out. A fan who just so happened to be a former member of the biggest rock band of all time.
I'm referring, of course, to George Harrison of The Beatles.
Seriously, if it wasn't for George Harrison, we wouldn't have Life of Brian.
Harrison was far from the only former Beatle who was a fan of Monty Python; Sir Paul McCartney very famously would pause rehearsals and recordings with his band Wings whenever Monty Python's Flying Circus would come on TV.
However, Harrison was the one who really put his money where his mouth was. When he heard about the financial situation surrounding Monty Python's Life of Brian, he contacted his colleague Denis O'Brien to see if they could do anything. The two soon created their own film company, HandMade Films, and Harrison put a mortgage on his own house in order to come up with the $4 million needed to fund the movie.
When asked why he took such an interest in the movie, he simply replied that he "just wanted to see it." Python member Eric Idle later quipped that it was "the most anybody's ever paid for a cinema ticket in history."
After the international success of the film (where Harrison more than made his money back), HandMade Films actually went on to fund plenty of other movies! They immediately found success with 1980's The Long Good Friday (starring Bob Hoskins in his breakthrough role, and Helen Mirren) and Monty Python director Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits in 1981.
However, by the late 1980s the studio had released a string of box-office flops like Shanghai Surprise and PowWow Highway, and O'Brien had mismanaged much of the company's money during the decade. As a result, the company ended operations in 1991, and was sold to Paragon Entertainment three years later.
That wasn't the end of things though. Harrison soon sued O'Brien for a whopping $25 million for fraud and negligence, with the final judgment awarding him $11 million in 1996.