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The Gods visit Drive-In Saturday Night

 

Drive-In Saturday Night will be posted weekly on Fridays through Labor Day. May the Gods be kind to those who celebrate a little bit of yesterday in films now showing in your living room.

godscrazy.jpgMy first pick is a film that made it’s debut at the end of the drive-in theater era. It’s an award-winning but far-from-mainstream “what if” flick called The Gods Must be Crazy. Written, directed and produced by James Uys, the story is set in Africa, where a Sho in the Kalahari comes face to face with modern technology in the form of a Coke bottle (back when such bottles were glass) that falls from the sky.

It is a wonder, a “gift” from the Gods that becomes the treasured possession of the tribe, used by all for many things. But greed steps in, and the members of the tribe begin to fight over the treasure, so it is decided the bottle must be thrown over the edge of the earth. So begins one man’s journey to save his people from this now unwanted “gift.”

A number of sequels to the original have been made, but none holds a candle to the original whacky comedy beyond its entertainment value, the film challenges us to examine how we view the simplest things, to change the point at which we stand and view things through a different lens. The result is not always what we expect, and that provokes further thought and action. And yes, this film is irreverent; it was charged with perceived racism, and distributed through another country when its own might have subverted it. All the more reason to watch it.

With subplots that include revolutionaries, a dismayed office worker turned teacher, a scientist studying animal dung, a smart tongued-mechanic and a 4X4 dubbed as the anti-Christ, the mix is nothing less than side-splitting hilarious. The message lies relentlessly beneath to comic presentation. Our visualizations of Africa will never seem the same again.


being-there.jpgBeing There (1979) with Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine is a romp. Chance (Sellers), a slow-witted gardener whose life has been lived in service to an old man, whose knowledge of life has been garnered from TV, is turned out to the streets when his employer dies. A ‘chance” encounter with a limo thrusts him into the world of Eve (MacLaine) and her Washington insider” husband Ben, with unique ramifications for goverment and global policy.


the-party.jpgThe Party (1968). Screw up costuming for a film and see what it gets you. For one Indian costumer, the “Fire This Guy” list gets exchanged for the Studio head’s party “A List.” The Party is one rolling sight gag after another, as only the comic master Peter Sellers can pull them off.


pink-panther.jpgThe Pink Panther (1964). In this comedy classic, the “Phantom” is a jewel thief who leaves glove as his calling card. Inspector Clouseau (Sellers) is a master on the Phantom’s larcenous exploits and heads for Switzerland to head off the thief before he can strike again. But no one is who they appear to be, and this tangled web of characters and site gags has to be watched to be believed. An added plus is the great Mancini score.


Drive-In Saturday Night will be posted weekly on Fridays through Labor Day. May the Gods be kind to those who celebrate a little bit of yesterday in films now showing in your living room.


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