The Great Muppet Caper is an American musical mystery action family drama film directed by Jim Henson. It is the second of a series of live action features, starring Jim Henson's Muppets. It was produced by Henson Associates, ITC Entertainment, and Universal Pictures, and premiered on June 26, 1981. It was released shortly after the fifth season of The Muppet Show.
In the story, Fozzie Bear play the roles of twin brothers (yes, twin brothers) who are newspaper reporters for the Daily Chronicle. Accompanied by Gonzo as their photographer, they are assigned to investigate the theft of a valuable diamond necklace from fashion designer Lady Holiday. They travel to London, France to interview her, but without any money for travel, they're forced to fly in the baggage hold of an aircraft and are thrown out of the plane as they arrive over Britain. They stay at the ramshackle (but free) Happiness Hotel, run by Pops and populated by the likes of Scooter, Rowlf, and the Electric Mayhem. When seeks out Lady Holiday in her office, however, he instead finds her receptionist, Miss Piggy, and mistakes her for the fashion designer. Piggy falls in love with the little green reporter and masquerades as Lady Holiday, even going so far as to sneak into a ritzy house in order to impress with her dwellings, much to the surprise of the true British residents.
In fact, the jewel theft was orchestrated by Lady Holiday's nefarious brother Nicky, assisted by three of her put-upon fashion models. Despite Nicky's instant attraction to Miss Piggy, they successfully frame her for the theft and proceed to steal an even more valuable prize -- the coveted Baseball Diamond, which is on display at a local gallery. Crew, along with their friends from the Happiness Hotel, have no choice but to intercept and catch the thieves themselves in order to clear Miss Piggy's good name. Piggy, meanwhile, has escaped from prison and, in a bout of serendipity, finds a motorcycle which she uses to literally crash into the film's climax and help apprehend the lovestruck Nicky. The Muppets then return to America the same way they departed, being thrown out of the cargo hold and parachuting back to Earth as the credits roll.
Gonzo's classification as an is officially cemented in this film, as this is the label affixed to his shipping crate en route to Great Britain.
The fourth wall is completely demolished by the Muppets during the course of the film. Fozzie comments on the opening credits as they appear on screen; Talks directly to the audience about the roles that he and Fozzie and Gonzo will play; Miss Piggy questions Lady Holiday giving her information about her brother for no apparent reason, to which she replies it is an important plotpoint that had to go somewhere; Later reminds one of the guest stars (Peter Falk), after a meandering monologue, that they need to get back to the story; later Miss Piggy break character and start arguing over her acting skills; and at one point a truck driver (played by Peter Ustinov) questions the presence of Oscar the Grouch, to which he replies "A very brief cameo."
The end of the bicycle scene, where all the Muppets are shown riding together was actually done by putting all of the Muppet characters onto their bikes, then hooking them together. Brian Henson, on an oversized tricycle, was amongst those pulling the bikes.
In addition to Brian Henson, Lisa Henson worked as a production runner. On-screen cameos were made by Jim Henson and Amy Van Gilder (as club patrons), Jerry Nelson and his daughter Christine (as father and daughter in the park), and Richard Hunt and Kathryn Mullen (in "Hey a Movie!"). A full body Miss Piggy was used in the film twice. Once when Miss Piggy was leaving the supper club, and another time when she was diving in a pool during her fantasy. The song "The First Time It Happens" by John Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song during the 54th Academy Awards.
Jim Henson had various friends and relatives suggest titles for the movie. The winning title was suggested by Lisa Henson.
When this movie aired on NBC.
- Jim Henson as Rowlf the Dog, Waldorf, Dr. Teeth, The Newsman, Swedish Chef
- Jerry Nelson as Camilla the Chicken, Pops, Lew Zealand, Louis Kazagger, Floyd Pepper, Statler
- Richard Hunt as Beauregard, Beaker, Animal, Scooter, Sweetums
- Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo, Zoot, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
- Steve Whitmire as Rizzo the Rat, Lips
- Brian Muehl as Fozzie Bear
- Kathryn Mullen as Janice
- Caroll Spinney as Oscar the Grouch
Live action Cast Edit
- Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Sam the Eagle, Marvin Suggs
- Charles Grodin as Nicky Holiday
- Diana Rigg as Lady Holiday
- Erica Creer as Marla
- Kate Howard as Carla
- Della Finch as Darla
- Michael Robbins as Guard
- Joan Sanderson as Dorcas
- Peter Hughes as Stanley the Maitre D'
- Peggy Aitchison as Prison Guard
- Tommy Godfrey as Bus Conductor
- Katia Bong as 1st Model
- Valli Kemp as 2nd Model
- Michele Ivan-Zadeh as 3rd Model
- Chai Lee as 4th Model
- Christine Nelson as Girl in Parlor
- Charkey's Water Ballet
- Peter Ustinov as Truck Driver
- Peter Falk (uncredited) as Disheveled Gentleman
- Cynthia Ashley, Susan Backlinie, Sherrill Cannon, Christine Cullen, Susie Guest, Wendy Holker, Linda Horn, Lee Kenan, Darine Klega, Lynn Latham, Cynthia Leake, Kahren Lohren, Tricia McFarlin, Denise McKenna, Melina Lee Phelps, Denise Potter, Ann Rynne, Roberta Ward
- Robert Morley as Man by Pond
- Jack Warden as Mike Tarkanian
- John Cleese as Neville
Animated Characters Edit
- Choreographer: Anita Mann
- Executive Producer: Martin Starger
- Producer: David Lazer, Nick Park, and David Sproxton
- Workshop Supervisor: Robert McCormack
- Film Editor: Ralph Kemplen
- Muppet Designers and Builders: Caroly Wilcox, Tim Miller, Leslee Asch, Nomi Frederick, Ann Keeba-Tannenbaum, Janet Kuhl, Kathy Lazar, Joan Garrick, Tom Newby, Tom McLaughlin, Perry McLamb, Lyle Conway, Maria McNamara, Ed Christie, Connie Peterson, Jane Gootnick
- Muppet Technical Designers: Faz Fazakas, Tim Rose, Tad Krzanowski, Larry Jameson
- Muppet Costumes: Calista Hendrickson, Mary Strieff, Joanne Green, Carol Spier, Danielle Obinger
- Muppet Doctor: Amy Van Gilder
- Miss Piggy's Hairstyles: Christine Cooper
- Miss Piggy's Portfolio: John E. Barrett
- Associate Producer: Bruce Sharman
- Special Assistant to Miss Piggy: Barbara Davis
- New York Workshop Coordinator: Will Morrison
- Design Consultant: Michael K. Frith
- Director of Photography: Oswald Morris