The Great Muppet Caper is a 1981 mystery musical comedy film directed by Jim Henson. It is the second of a series of live-action musical feature films, starring Jim Henson's Muppets. This film was produced by Henson Associates and ITC Entertainment, originally released by Universal Pictures,1 and premiered on June 26, 1981. It is also the only Muppet movie directed by Henson. Shot in England, the film was released shortly after the final season of The Muppet Show.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo the Great play newspaper reporters for the Daily Chronicle. Kermit and Fozzie, specifically, are playing identical twin reporters, which becomes the source of a running gag - supposedly, nobody can tell they are twins unless Fozzie wears his hat. While Gonzo is too busy taking pictures of a chicken, the biggest fashion designer of London named Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg) gets robbed of her necklace. The trio are eventually assigned to investigate the theft of the valuable jewels from Lady Holiday, which they have to beg for after their boss Mike Tarkenian (Jack Warden) dismisses them following the Daily Chronicle's headline about the twins joining the staff (while the other papers report on the jewel heist).

They travel to London to interview her, but with only $12 for the trip, they are forced to fly in the airplane's baggage hold and are thrown out of the plane as they arrive over Britain while it continues on to Italy. They stay at the dilapidated (but free) Happiness Hotel, run and populated by Pops, Scooter, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, Sam the Eagle, Swedish Chef, Rizzo the Rat, Annie Sue, and Lubbuck Lou and his Jughuggers. When Kermit seeks out Lady Holiday in her office however, he instead finds the love of his life Miss Piggy and fails to recognize her, mistaking her for the fashion designer. Piggy (who was interviewing for a job) masquerades as Lady Holliday, even going so far as to sneak into a ritzy townhouse (located at 17 Highbrow Street) to impress Kermit with her dwellings much to the surprise of the true British residents Neville (John Cleese) and Dorcas (Joan Sanderson).

At a night club restaurant, Lady Holiday's necklace is stolen by her jealous brother Nicky (Charles Grodin) and his assistants Carla (Kate Howard), Marla (Erica Creer), and Darla (Della Finch), three of her put-upon fashion models. Despite Nicky's instant attraction to Miss Piggy, they successfully frame her for the theft and plan to steal an even more valuable prize....the coveted Baseball Diamond which is on display at a local gallery, the Mallory Gallery. Unfortunately for them, Gonzo is under a nearby table and overhears them. Kermit's crew, along with their friends from the Happiness Hotel, have no choice but to intercept and catch the thieves themselves in order to exonerate Miss Piggy.

The Muppets get to the Mallory Gallery, and get to the Baseball Diamond at the same time as the thieves, use the Baseball Diamond in a game of Keep Away and later baseball, complete with Louis Kazagger commentating. Piggy, meanwhile, has escaped from prison and, in a bout of serendipity, finds a motorcycle which she uses to crash into the Gallery's window, knocking Nicky, who is holding Kermit hostage, out in the process. Carla, Marla and Darla confront Piggy, only to be quickly dispatched by a flurry of furious karate chops. As the police arrive, Piggy is cleared from all charges, Nicky and his fashion model-accomplices are arrested, and the Muppets get their deserved credit for foiling the heist. The Muppets then return to America the same way they departed, being thrown out of the cargo hold and parachuting back to Earth, over the end credits which concludes with Gonzo taking a photo of the audience with his overly powerful flashbulb causing the screen to go black as if he blinded his subjects again.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Charles Grodin as Nicky Holiday, Lady Holiday's irresponsible brother and the principal antagonist of the film. He is responsible for the jewel heist on his sister with the help of three of her fashion models, Carla, Darla, and Marla.
  • Diana Rigg as Lady Holiday, a famous British fashion designer who has been the victim of a jewel heist.
  • Erica Creer as Marla
  • Kate Howard as Carla
  • Della Finch as Darla
  • Joan Sanderson as Dorcas, Neville's wife.
  • Michael Robbins as Henderson, the Mallory Gallery's security guard.
  • Peter Hughes as Stanley, a Maitre D' at the Dubonnet Club and an old acquaintance and favoured patron of Lady Holiday.
  • Peggy Aitchison as a guard at the prison where Miss Piggy is detained.
  • Tommy Godfrey as a bus conductor.

Cameo guest stars[edit | edit source]

Muppet performers[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of Muppets

Additional Muppets performed by Louise Gold, Robbie Barnett, Brian Henson, Brian Muehl, Kathryn Mullen, Bob Payne, Mike Quinn, and Hugh Spight

Some of the puppeteers also appear in cameo roles.

  • Jim Henson cameos as one of the Dubonnet Club patrons to whom Gonzo offers a souvenir photo with Amy van Gilder.
  • Frank Oz cameos as a reporter in the Daily Chronicle office.
  • Jerry Nelson cameos as a man in the park alongside his daughter Christine Nelson playing the man's daughter.
  • Richard Hunt as a cab driver with Kathryn Mullen appearing as a taxi passenger.

Also, Henson's son Brian appears riding a tricycle that pulls a line of Muppets on bicycles.

Background Muppets (non-speaking)[edit | edit source]

  • Annie Sue, Crazy Harry, Gaffer, The Mutations, Droop, Timmy Monster, Frackles, Luncheon Counter Monster, Flower-Eating Monster, Miss Kitty, Lubbock Lou, Bubba, Gramps, Lou, Slim Wilson, Zeke, The Singing Food

Uncredited[edit | edit source]

Release[edit | edit source]

Box office[edit | edit source]

The film grossed $31.2 million domestically on a $14 million budget thus making it a box office success.[1] It is the fourth highest grossing Muppet film behind The Muppets, The Muppet Movie, and Muppet Treasure Island.

Critical reception[edit | edit source]

The Great Muppet Caper has received generally positive reviews. As of 6 July 2009, Rotten Tomatoes has reported that 71% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 17 reviews.[2]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a two star rating (out of four) and concluded his review by saying that "the lack of a cutting edge hurts this movie. It's too nice, too routine, too predictable, and too safe."[3]

Music[edit | edit source]

In 1982, Joe Raposo was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "The First Time It Happens".[4] This was the only one of the first three Muppet films not to be nominated for Best Music, Original Song Score.

In 1981, Miss Piggy won the Youth in Film Award for Best Young Musical Recording Artist for her performance of "The First Time It Happens", becoming the first, and only, non-human recipient in the history of the award.[5]

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

The Great Muppet Caper

The Great Muppet Caper: The Original Soundtrack contains all of the songs from the movie, as well as several portions of dialogue and background score. The album reached #66 on Billboard's Top LP's and Tapes chart in 1981.

Track listing
  1. "Main Title Theme" (2:49)
  2. "Hey, a Movie!" (2:42)
  3. "The Big Red Bus" (1:26) (Score)
  4. "Happiness Hotel" (3:05)
  5. "Lady Holiday" (1:12) (Score)
  6. "The First Time It Happens" (4:12)
  7. "The Apartment" (0:53) (Score)
  8. "Night Life" (2:57)
  9. "Steppin' Out with a Star" (2:31)
  10. "Couldn't We Ride" (3:07)
  11. "Miss Piggy's Fantasy" (3:58)
  12. "The Great Muppet Caper" (3:48)
  13. "Homeward Bound" (0:52) (Score)
  14. "Finale: Hey, a Movie! (reprise)" (1:30)
  15. "The First Time It Happens (reprise)" (1:30)
Score cues left off the soundtrack
  1. Stop the Presses!
  2. Splash Landing
  3. Lobby
  4. "Happiness Hotel" (Full version)
  5. Applying for a Job
  6. Kermit Meets Piggy
  7. Taxi
  8. Getting Ready
  9. You Can Come/17 Highbrow Street
  10. A Pig and a Lizard
  11. Dubonnet Club (Instrumental of "Steppin' Out with a Star")
  12. I Think I’ve Got a Picture of the Thief
  13. The Cookie Jar Just Busted/In the Park
  14. Would You Like to Buy a Watch?
  15. Kermit and Piggy Argument
  16. I’m Sorry I Left You
  17. I Can’t Be Responsible For What Might Happen
  18. Fashion Show
  19. Framed
  20. The Baseball Diamond Will Be Ours
  21. We Don’t Want the Bad Guys to Win
  22. Pig in the Pokey
  23. I Love You, Rosenthal
  24. The Heist (Full version, much longer with many short cues)

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ After the purchase of The Muppets characters by The Walt Disney Company, the film's distribution rights were transferred to Walt Disney Pictures.

References[edit | edit source]

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  2. {{{title}}} at Rotten Tomatoes
  3. Roger Ebert. "The Great Muppet Caper", Chicago Sun-Times,, January 1, 1981. Retrieved on January 28, 2012. 
  4. 54th Academy Awards Winners. Retrieved on 2 March 2013.
  5. 3rd Annual Youth In Film Awards. Retrieved on 2 March 2013.

External links[edit | edit source]

Template:Muppet films Template:Jim Henson films

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