Movies that Have Changed Me

monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-533b550957a98

The Comedies

I was challenged recently by a Facebook friend to list “10 Movies that Impacted Me” (I won’t mention her name, but it starts with the letters “Marla”). The catch? I was only allowed to post an image, no explanation. No explanation? “While you’re at it, why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?”! (The Princess Bride). I complied, but realized I had—had—to say something about the movies that have influenced my filmmaking, my writing, and even my worldview.

So I agreed to the inscrutable FB posts, but decided to do a series of blogs, as well, in which I would explain why and how certain films have changed me. (Hah! I win, Marla! Or, um, you know, whatever her name is.) I decided to separate the blogs by genre. I’ll start with comedy.

Why comedy? I don’t know. Maybe because it has much more impact on people than they realize—it disarms them, causing them to view life differently than before the lights went down. Or maybe simply because I’ve always had an incurable comic bent. Even my dramatic work is marred (by which I mean “blessed”) by it.

As a kid, I loved the Three Stooges, and then, as I acquired a smidge of subtlety, Laurel & Hardy and the great Chaplin (I still love good physical comedy). Mark Twain mentored me as an aspiring writer (my earliest pieces were blatant imitations of him). But Twainian irony scooted over to make room for absurdism when I discovered Alice in Wonderland. The Disney movie was mild, but it introduced me to the rapturously ridiculous word play of Lewis Carroll, and I soon realized nonsense was my native tongue. A cherished farce (and still one of my favorite films) was Billy Wilder’s manically brilliant Some Like it Hot (Wilder remains one of my top filmmaking  heroes).

My love of the absurd took a giant leap forward when, as a teenager, I discovered the Marx Brothers (Margaret Dumont: “Hold me closer!” Groucho: “If I hold you any closer I’ll be in back of you”). Duck Soup still runs through my veins. Then, beginning with Blazing Saddles, I developed a love for parodies (a.k.a. spoofs). Airplane, Young Frankenstein, and This is Spinal Tap each had a role in shaping my comedic sensibilities.

200But the film that connected all the unconnectable dots (because that’s what great comedy does) was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I returned to the theatre again and again, deciphering its nonsensical sense: The Black Knight pointed out the absurdity of superfluous “manliness;” the witch trial illustrated the incoherent cruelty of unsupported accusations (“She turned me into a newt!” Pause. “Well, I got better”). The underlying truth of absurd humor, I realized, was the fact that humans are absurd. Yes, they can sometimes be noble, and yet–

Blog post ends suddenly and unexpectedly (even, one might say, rudely).

“Now, go away or I will taunt you a second time.”

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Movies that Have Changed Me

  1. I grew up with those movies! My Dad used to do Three Stooges impersonations. Hilarious!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome! Thank you for this. Your disarming sense of humor helps to ground a person when too focused on “the important things” of life, and brings us back to remembering to enjoy the moments of the day. Continue taunting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roos Ruse says:

    “It’s no good-a for you, it’s no good-a for me.!” Besides “Tis a flesh wound…”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve never understood those FB posts that demand no explanation. I actually want to know WHY you’ve picked that movie, book, or whatever.

    BTW, Monty Python is brilliant. I always loved how they got away from the monster because the animator had a fatal heart attack!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Marla” maybe says:

    Hah! Ha! Not my rules!! But Mitch you made it a Win/Win for all of us!!
    From someone who may/or not be named “Marla”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. carhicks says:

    What an awesome choice. My son and daughter-in-law recite lines from this post, we watched it so often. Humour that just made you laugh, it didn’t have to make sense, it was just funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pkadams says:

    MP Holy Grail is a family favorite here ! I love the silliness. We used to love that show and also the Young Ones and Benny Hill. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My favorite scene is the Holy Hand Granade Of Antioch. (Crusaders actually used grenades as it turns out) I’m reminded of the book of munitions “3 shall be thy count” every time I’m given instructions that seem..” over elegant” 😅

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent post Mitch. Several of these were among my favorites growing up also. I found Gene Wilder movies hilarious in general. He always seemed to be funny. I loved watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus on our local PBS channel. Laurel and Hardy and Abbot and Costello were favorites of mine too. “The underlying truth of absurd humor, I realized, was the fact that humans are absurd.”—too true my friend. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “You can’t wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you…”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. nancyehead says:

    You’re a looney!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. smzang says:

    Blazing Saddles is a favorite and just the mention of it made me think of History of the World part 1.

    My fav line was when Mel Brooks said,”it will take a miracle to save us now.” and Miracle came trotting up. I’ll never forget that whinny!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Do I smell elderberries? Hehe

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Movies that Have Changed Me | Mitch Teemley

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