Comedy of corpses MORTAL COIL—the movie

Delmore Danruther, a scamp, a rogue and a funeral director, falls for an heiress and kidnaps her grandfather’s corpse to help her find the will the old man wrote and swallowed before dying. 

Based on the book, short-listed for the London Observer's P.G. Wodehouse Comic Novel Prize:
FUNERAL HOME FUN
"We had this guy working for us, his name was Jump. Nervous guy. Every time you spoke to him, he jumped. Just getting his attention was an act of cruelty. 'Jump,' you'd say, and he'd jump. I don't know why he kept on with the job. The bodies frightened him...."

The stage version is at Samuel French.

This:
plus this:

equals this:
Delmore Danruther—clown, slacker, womanizer, wild man on the dance floor—takes nothing seriously, especially his job as a funeral director.

He fields the calls, picks up the bodies (sometimes from accident scenes, grotesquely distorted), sells the coffins, organizes the ceremonies, occasionally presides at them himself, and has to do all the jobs that go with the turf—help with the embalming, wash the cars and clean the toilets.

Amidst all this chillingly realistic death he's a Bugs Bunny of a guy—playful, ironic, false eyebrows as he reads a service, ball-and-paddle in the back room, loves driving the big cars.

But if he gets a call from someone whose family member has just died, he can suddenly be tender. And despite his boss's nagging he won't sell grief-vulnerable people coffins they can't afford.

Had a job hosing down buses at the terminal, then was picked up in a bar by Hannah Merklinger, whose husband owns the funeral home. She got him the job, part of which is keeping her happy.

Falls so deeply in love with Merrilie that he almost dies for her. When he gives his all and then finds her in bed with someone else, it breaks his heart and his spirit.

Proposed cast: Rebecca Hall
Merrilie Gornton, twenty-five, beautiful, refined, the potential heiress to a huge fortune, moves in a horses-and-sports-cars world out of Delmore's reach, has a blond-god boyfriend in the background.

Combines innocence and curiosity in a way that keeps us guessing. Is she caring or calculating?

Is horrified when Delmore lets her see some realities in the back room, but discovers in herself a fascination with them that amounts—fortunately for him—to a fetish.

Proposed cast: Christopher Plummer
Anson Gornton, eighty-six, Merrilie's grandfather, CEO of multinational empire Gornton Pharmaceuticals and one of the richest men in the world, is on his death bed.

Creaky-voiced but loud and authoritative all the same.

Surrounded by family members awaiting their share of the pie.

Mistakenly pronounced dead, then wakes, takes Delmore in his cheap black suit for Death himself and confides in him.

We’re never sure if he’s crazy or making sense.

Extraordinarily well-hung.

Wraps his will in cigarette foil and swallows it before dying, causing a scramble for the body, which Delmore abducts.

Proposed cast: Peter Bogdanovich
The boss, funeral-home proprietor J. Luther Merklinger, is a pasty, insipid tightwad.

Sucks up to the Gorntons.

Has it in for Delmore, who never makes any big sales. Suspects him of fun-having in the back room.

Has no idea his wife is sleeping with Delmore.
THEME SONG (for cheerful female voices, to the tune of "Shuffle off to Buffalo"): 

When you're in the mortuary
You may find it cold and scary—
No, no, don't recoil.
Off you're gonna shuffle,
Shuffle off this mortal coil!

Comes the undertaker later
And he'll drain your radiator
And he'll change your oil.
Off you're gonna shuffle,
Shuffle off this mortal coil!

First he'll put you on the table,
Then he'll pump out your insides.
He'll make your condition stable
With formal-de-hyde!

You'll be magotty and wormy—
It's enough to make you squirmy—
When you're in the soil.
Off you're gonna shuffle,
Shuffle off this mortal coil!

Just because you feel immortal
Doesn't mean you'll never die.
You'll get hard and rigor mortal—
No use to won-der why!

When you're pushing up the daisies
You'll be lying back and lazy--
No more moil and toil.
Off you're gonna shuffle,
Shuffle off this mortal coil!

Shuffle off, shuffle off, shuffle off, shuffle off,
Shuffle off this mor-tal coil!

Pretentious Pictures presents a funeral-home frolic.

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