5 Insanely Topical Movie Lines (That Are Now Just Confusing)
No movie exists in a vacuum. Setting is important, and even a minor work may pay painstaking attention to detail to ensure everything is perfect and accurate. We were all super impressed by how Mad Men writers did their research to capture the exact mood of the JFK assassination. But how do you accurately set a thing ... right now? How do you know what will stick? What's timeless about the present, and what's pogs? Well, sometimes you don't know! That's how we wound up with ...
Movies Can't Stop Referencing a 60-Year-Old Romantic Beach Scene
If you've ever seen a couple kissing on the beach as waves crash over them -- and you definitely have -- you can thank From Here To Eternity. Although it's unlikely to show up on any Netflix recommendation lists, the 1953 epic drama was the Titanic of its era. Chronicling the stories of soldiers stationed in Hawaii shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack, the movie climaxes with a scandalous kiss on the beach between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, whose characters are married to other people. The original script had a standing kiss scene, but Lancaster insisted on lying down. Infidelity and lying down? According to 1953 social mores, that was practically whipping your dick out in public. Maybe that's why it made cinema history ...
The scene was parodied almost immediately in the Marilyn Monroe film The Seven Year Itch, and the references never stopped. You'll find it referenced in now-classic comedy films like Airplane!, Summer School, Meatballs 2, Weekend At Bernie's, Hot Shots!, and even in an early episode of The Simpsons.
In fact, those later movies were probably making second- and third-hand references to it, like a Mobius strip of sandy ass cracks. It wound up in kids cartoons like The Little Mermaid and Shrek 2, and there was some later confusion as to which of those films in turn inspired a scene from Wonder Woman (the one wherein Diana saves Steve Trevor from drowning). Centuries from now, our grandchildren's grandchildren will be watching beautiful people erotically waterboard one another on the beach, and they'll have no clue where it came from.
Dodge Paid Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer For An Incredibly Dated Reference To Their Old Commercials
In Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer, there's a scene revealing the awesome, the amazing, the incredible Fantasticar. Yes, that is seriously what it's called. As the camera slowly pans across the Dodge logo, Johnny Storm asks "Hemi?" and Reed Richards replies, "Of course!"
As Richards had mentioned mere moments earlier, the Fantasticar has a top speed of 550 miles per hour, and can fly. A hemispherical combustion chamber seems an odd thing to focus on. Also, did Richards just pull the engine out of a Dodge Ram and put it in his magnificent flying car? Would that work? What about the logo? Is this an officially licensed Dodge product? Did Richards have a sit-down meeting with a bunch of Dodge advertising douchebags to get that license? Where is that scene?
The whole miserable minute is one of the most egregious examples of product placement ever dedicated to celluloid, but tucked within that minute is a hilariously dated reference. It's all a nod to a series of Dodge commercials featuring comedian Jon Reep, who would famously ask in each commercial, "That thing got a Hemi?"
Those commercials aired in 2003, meaning that they were already old by the time the original Fantastic Four came out, never mind the sequel. Still, when Dodge sends you a Power Wagon full of money, you listen. And if you listen even closer, you can hear a screenwriter's soul dying.
That Running Gag From Airplane! That You Don't Get Was All About A '70s Coffee Commercial
The comedy of Airplane! may be timeless (it's scientifically proven to be the funniest movie ever), but almost much nothing else about it is. It's full of dated references and parodies of things no one knows about anymore. And here's one now!
At one point in the film, a stewardess asks a couple if they would like a second cup of coffee:
When the man, Jim, says yes, his wife balks that he never has a second cup at home. This is a reference to a commercial for Yuban Coffee from the '70s which features a nearly identical exchange, right down to the husband's name:
They turn it into a running gag, with the woman commenting throughout the film on all the things Jim never does at home. They even got the same actress from the commercial to play the wife. Part of what we love about Airplane! is how committed the movie is to even the stupidest of jokes.
A Bizarre Reference To A Forgotten Racist Made It Into Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War has a lot of good one-liners, and some inexplicable ones. Like when Falcon accuses Tony Stark of "going Mark Fuhrman" on his tail feathers.
Mark Fuhrman was an LAPD detective who was very briefly part of the investigation into the O.J. Simpson murder case, and during the trial, it was discovered that he had been recorded on tape using racial slurs. His past behavior was so heinous that it forced the defense to change their whole strategy, and it was possibly a key factor in the decision to let Simpson walk free. A Fuhrman comparison is a hell of an aspersion to cast at a fan-favorite hero. We were pretty drunk for that movie, and every other movie we've ever seen, but we don't recall Stark going on a racist tirade. So what's the deal?
In 2016, Vulture sat down with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely solely to ask "What the hell?" They explained that they basically needed a shorthand for "bad cop," and for some reason, the only thing that came to mind was a largely forgotten racist from 20 years ago. Though in a weird convergence, the one-two punch of American Crime Story and O.J.: Made In America that year likely meant more people understood the reference than otherwise would have.
A Quick Blazing Saddles Gag Overshadowed A Musician's Entire Career
Mel Brooks' 1974 western comedy has gags flying across the screen at every level, sometimes literally, as well as 25 consecutive seconds of cowboys farting. What we're saying is that it's an undisputed masterpiece. But there's one scene we don't get: When Mongo rides into town, an as-yet-unseen character shouts "MONGO! SANTA MARIA!" and then runs away, never to be seen again.
Is ... is there a joke there? Is this somehow a racist thing? Please don't say it's a racist thing.
It is not! This throwaway line is a shout-out to Mongo Santamaria, Mel Brooks' favorite Afro-Cuban Jazz bongo drummer and percussionist. (How did he pick just one?!)
Although Mongo Santamaria was an insanely talented musician and bandleader, his exposure to the general public was limited. He had a Top Ten hit, "Watermelon Man," which reached exactly #10 on the pop charts in 1962. Mel Brooks' namecheck in 1974 would be like if Judd Apatow made a movie today and threw in a gag about Eiffel 65. By 1987, jazz experts figured that Santamaria was more well-known because of the Brooks shout-out than for his own music. It's probably not the legacy he wanted, or deserved, but hey, it could have been worse. Could've been Eiffel 65.
Wes Corwin is a stand-up comedian currently based in Dallas. You can like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or if you live in Dallas and enjoy comedy and alcohol, check out his weekly show at Noble Rey Brewery on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Rani Baker made the video game DEATH SWORD, which just won "Most Innovative" at the Intel Buzz Indie Gamedev Showcase. You can support the project here.
Chase away the horrible memories of seeing, well, any of the Fantastic Four movies by building and programming an awesome, cute little robot you can control with an iPad ... who might be able to literally perform surgery on your brain? Check the directions first.
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