The Crimson Permanent Assurance
In the featurette that precedes the movie, the Permanent Assurance is a middling insurance firm whose number-crunchers are old-timers who appear chained to their desks like galley slaves. But then, mutiny breaks out, and soon, the galley slaves become cutlass-wielding buccaneers, raiding rival firms and wreaking financial havoc that leaves their foes hopelessly tangled in tickertape and unspooled adding-machine paper.
The whole thing is rather silly, playing like a live-action version of one of Terry Gilliam’s interstitial cartoons during TV episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Still, there’s something endearing about the old fogeys finding new youth and vigor as they ride the choppy waters of high finance. No wonder it’s a relief when, at a low point late in The Meaning of Life, the Crimson pirates from the earlier short invade the main feature.