Skip to main content

Wise Words in Silly Movies

Flash Gordon

This is a campy movie based on the Flash Gordon serials. There is a scene where Emperor Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) gives Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) a chance to be ruler of the Earth. Ming tells Flash after the destruction he has been unleashing on the Earth the populace would be “easier to control” and be “satisfied with less”. This was almost 30 years before “the new normal” became a popular phrase. The concept is people who have undergone catastrophe, physical or economic, are willing to accept things can never be as they were.

inthenavy 281

28/7 = 13

In The Navy (1941) is an Abbott and Costello comedy. It’s one of the movies where they performed the comedy bit where they “proved” if you have 28 donuts and you divide them evenly among 7 officers, each officer gets 13 donuts. They used multiplication, division, and addition to prove the math correct.

This demonstrates how something ridiculous can make sense. All you have to do is leave out a fact or two. The bit shows if a conclusion doesn’t make sense there is probably something wrong with the proof.

Airplane II: The Sequel

This 1982 zany comedy was set in the 21st century. It had many silly sight gags. One gag was a movie poster for Rocky XXIIII. The poster showed a geriatric Sylvester Stallone in boxing trunks. In 2006, 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone played the title role in Rocky Balboa. Sylvester Stallone played Rocky in 2018’s Creed II. The following year Stallone played John Rambo in Rambo: Last Blood. This shows what is considered ridiculous today may be reality in a couple of decades.

Love at First Bite

The premise of this 1979 comedy is the Romanian government confiscates Count Dracula’s castle and evicts him. Count Dracula (George Hamilton) and Renfield (Arte Johnson) relocate in New York City. Count Dracula hopes to turn model Cindy Sondheim (Susan Saint James), the woman who eluded him in her past lives. Renfield tries to bribe a model agent (Susan Tolsky) by offering to make her an honorary colonel in the Romanian Army, the next time Romania has a free election. Free elections in Romania seemed a “never going to happen” event in 1979. In 1990 it happened.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

This is the Americanized version of Godzilla. In America Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was originally dismissed as another of the many monster movies of the era. Godzilla appeared to be an indestructible monster. Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) developed a method of removing all the oxygen from water. This instantly kills all life in the affected area. Ogata (Akira Takarada) tried to convince Dr. Serizawa to use his invention to kill Godzilla. Dr. Serizawa initially refused because the invention could have devastating effects if it fell into the wrong hands. Ogata tells Dr. Serizawa, “You have your fears which may become a reality. Then there is Godzilla which is a reality.” There isn’t an “oxygen destroyer” or a giant monster but the question of unintended consequences vs the fix to a current problem is a reality.

The Hallelujah Trail

This 1965 Western comedy revolves around a whiskey shipment. Wagons loaded with whiskey are on their way to a secluded town in the west. The men of the town wanted the whiskey because they feared a cold snowy winter would prevent any shipments until spring. A Native American tribe wanted to take the whiskey. Temperance marchers, led by Cora Templeton Massingale (Lee Remick), wanted the whiskey destroyed. Colonel Thaddeus Gearhart (Burt Lancaster) commander of a cavalry troop didn’t want Native Americans having whiskey. Cora Massingale suggested a solution. She had pledges from the Native Americans that they won’t drink alcohol. She reasoned if the Native Americans didn’t drink the whiskey there would be no problem.

The premise of an intelligent woman thinking a pledge isn’t just ink on a piece of paper seems silly. History has many examples of government leaders getting a treaty or other agreement and claim the other side will live up to the agreement.

History of the World: Part I

This Mel Brooks comedy is a series of spoofs about different historical eras. In the Ancient Rome spoof Comicus (Mel Brooks), is at the unemployment office. Comicus tells the clerk (Bea Arthur) he’s a: “Standup philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human existence into a viable and meaningful comprehension.” The clerk retorts, “Oh, a bull@^*% artist!” In two words the clerk told Comicus his job is nonsense, pointed out he’s overstating his importance, and demonstrated the value of word economy. A clerk facing someone like Comicus at the unemployment office would probably think she would be seeing a lot more of him.

Scroll to Continue

How To Murder Your Wife

In this 1965 comedy Stanley Force (Jack Lemon) is a bachelor who draws a comic strip. The comic strip’s main character is an Action/Adventure hero. To make the strip realistic Stanley does everything the main character does himself before he submits the strip for printing. He got drunk at a friend’s bachelor party and woke up married the next morning. His wife expected him to perform some household maintenance tasks. He learned he was a klutz at such tasks. The main character in his comic strip evolved into a bumbling husband. Sometimes it takes a marriage to learn you’re not the person you think you are.

If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium

This 1969 comedy is about a group of American tourists who go on a bus tour through Europe. Jack Harmon (Michael Constantine) is on the tour to relive some World War II memories. At one point on the tour, he tells a woman about a battle he fought on this spot in World War II. Across from them is a German couple (Paul Esser & Suzy Falk). The German man is describing the same battle. Both couples step forward. The men explain, then enemy retreated. The couples walk by each other with the men describing their sides victory, complete with hand motions and sound effects.

This illustrates how two sides can have different perceptions of the same incident. Embellishment is often part of remembrance. Oral histories shouldn’t be taken at face value.

Judge Dredd

This 1995 movie stared Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd. It’s set in 2139 where police officers serve as judge, jury, and executioner. There are summary executions. After a shootout with a murderous gang Judge Dredd arrests Fergie (Rob Schneider), a recent parolee. Fergie hid himself inside a robot to avoid getting murdered. Dredd charges him with illegal tampering with a city droid and gives him a 5-year sentence. Fergie explains the circumstances for his behavior. Dredd retorts, “You could have gone out the window.” That would have meant a 40 floor drop and certain death. Dredd points out, “Maybe, but it's legal.” The exchange demonstrates sometimes doing what’s legal is doing what’s stupid.

Kung Fu Panda

This animated movie is about a grossly out of shape Panda who wants to be a Kung Fu master. He is the son of a famed soup peddler. His father’s soup tastes so good because of a “secret ingredient”. The reality is there isn’t any secret ingredient in the soup. This points out “secrets” are often myths. It’s good to be cautious of someone peddling secret information, plans, or ingredients.

Life of Brian

This 1979 Monty Python movie is set in Jerusalem during the time of Christ. During a meeting of a group fighting to overthrow Roman occupation a member asked what have the Romans done for us. Attendees didn’t take it as a rhetorical question. The leader (John Cleese) soon conceded Roman occupation brought sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, public health, and peace. Later, they made a public proclamation they would continue their struggle until the Romans left their land. Their proclamation made exemptions for Romans involved in all the things they admitted Romans were doing for them. People want independence but rarely appreciate how dependent they are.

Pokémon The First Movie

This 1998 movie revolves around the powerful Pokémon Mewtwo. Mewtwo didn’t like that it was created in a lab so it caused great mischief. The protagonists eventually convince Mewtwo that its behavior is wrong. Mewtwo states: “I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”

This statement points out no one should accept family or cultural history as an excuse for antisocial behavior. No one has a right to be a destructive influence on the world.

Queen of Outer Space

This “so bad it’s good” science fiction movie is about a space ship that crash lands on Venus. The back story is women took over the planet and their leader (Laurie Mitchell) had all the men killed. The planet’s chief scientist (Zsa Zsa Gabor) explained, “They didn’t take her seriously. They were preparing for war. After all, she was only a woman.”

This shows everyone must take someone vying for a leadership position seriously. Qualifications for leadership and ability to get leadership are often unrelated. Ronald Reagan, Boris Yeltsin, William Jefferson Clinton, Ariel Sharon, George W. Bush, Barack Hussein Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden had opponents, and many people including experts, that didn’t take their bids for leadership of their country seriously.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Robert Sacchi

Related Articles