We're excited to present a great new set of boards to classic movie fans with tons of new features, stability, and performance.

If you’re new to the message boards, please “Register” to get started. If you want to learn more about the new boards, visit our FAQ.

Register

If you're a returning member, start by resetting your password to claim your old display name using your email address.

Re-Register

Thanks for your continued support of the TCM Message Boards.

X

Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

X

Jump to content


Photo

Daily Dose of Doozy #13: Conceptual Parody: Woody Allen


  • Please log in to reply
74 replies to this topic

#41 riffraf

riffraf

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 123 posts
  • LocationHouston, Texas

Posted 26 September 2016 - 07:43 PM

1.    In what ways does this scene from Bananas operate as both slapstick comedy and as parody?

 

In Bananas, Woody Allen’s character as a revolutionary rebel soldier, with his looks alone, large hard rimmed glasses and coke bottle style lens makes for visual slapstick comedy.  His physical presence and look goes against the grain of the idea for a combat ready soldier making it a slapstick gag as well as a parody of a dramatic situation.  Seeing the exaggerated, long line of café workers delivering the food order, including coleslaw in wheelbarrows, at gunpoint covers the five conditions of exaggerated, physical, repetitive, make believe and maybe painful or at least with the threat of violence.

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Mast in his view that Bananas more closely captures Sennett's style or spirit than The Great Race? Even if you haven't seen either film, you can base your analysis on today's Daily Dose vs. last week's Daily Dose from The Great Race

 

I agree with Mast that Bananas would fall under the spirit of Mack Sennett in the way this clip plays we are seeing more of the visual comedy like a Sennett film but with the ideas of comedy from Allen’s comic personality.  If Gerald Mast is seeing Bananas as a conceptual parody of social attitudes and conventions, I would consider The Great Race and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World a more physical comedy in the traditional style of slapstick films in homage to an earlier era.


  • Marianne, goingtopluto and HEYMOE like this

#42 Heather Mary

Heather Mary

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 30 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 07:25 PM

Now we are in my wheelhouse of comedy favorites. When I was a teenager I used to read all of Woody Allen's books. Without feathers, getting even, side effects etc. Although I prefer the movie " take the money and run". Bananas is awesome. This specific scene is definitely high concept. Of course it is visually very funny when the chef cook brings out their order. But the dead pan expression of the worker at the small sandwich shop is classic. He is doing his job. No questions asked when asked for 700 tuna sandwiches… Absolutely hysterical. You could watch the scene with the volume down, and still see the comedy in it. But of course Woody Allen ordering all the food and again the deadpan work or taking an order. That's the true comedy. And also the look on the workers face when Woody Allen pulled out his gun and demand them to deliver the food to the revolutionaries. Brilliant.
The great race is a wonderful film, and feels like a true tribute to slapstick films. Whereas Woody Allen's film feels like a true original. Using slapstick concepts. Visual funnies. But definitely more cerebral.
  • riffraf, JaneNoir and HEYMOE like this

#43 HEYMOE

HEYMOE

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 246 posts
  • LocationNew York

Posted 26 September 2016 - 07:17 PM

1. Exaggeration reigns throughout the entire clip, from the "drawing straws,"  to the outrageous deli order.  While there is a suggestion of potential violence, this could be seen as an element of slapstick or parody. The musical interlude, twists on classic lines ("you better get some rest . . .) and the use of extras (the 'lookouts" smoking outside, the quirky mix of delicatessen delivery men and catering staff) are some of the details which made this an excellent send-off of the "guerrilla/rebellion" genre.

 

2. I would agree that "Bananas," has " . . .an apparent structure (peace corps schlemiel ends up fighting with rebels) and a real one (four wheelbarrows of coleslaw moving surreptitiously toward the secret rebel base).

 

 

That being said . . .anyone notice they missed something?

Pickles?


  • riffraf and Marianne like this

#44 Motorcitystacy

Motorcitystacy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 55 posts
  • LocationDetroit MI

Posted 26 September 2016 - 07:16 PM

It serves as slapstick comedy and parody regarding the large amount of food ordered by Fielding at the local café. He shows his vulnerable side not quite knowing what to do when the rebels choose him to get the food yet manages to order the large sums quite naturally. The slapstick also came in the drawing of straws when Fielding deliberately got the shortest straw--a throwback to westerns.

 

"The Great Race" was one of the most over the top slapsticks with its tribute to silent comedies. "Bananas" challenges you regarding current events and the changes in society going on in the 1970's. It is more of a thinking person's slapstick whereas "The Great Race" practically throws it in your face.


  • riffraf, goingtopluto, HEYMOE and 1 other like this

#45 clark2600

clark2600

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 06:12 PM

1.  In what ways does this scene from Bananas operate as both slapstick and a parody?  Fieldings' character was an overall loser, non achiever, like charismatic D.F. Lawrence, inasmuch as to state of the irony of it all.  His landing his first job as a revolutionary soldier for Castro's army.  Whereas, "comedy is the best medicine," as to state of how nobody's life is this bad.  Look at how fast he takes to these soldiers, connects with their faction, as if he known them all his life, as well as their ideals.  He leads these workers as if he is "a pro" at it.  "Gun toting" Fieldings obviously knows his way around a machine gun.

 

2.  Do you agree or disagree with Mast in his view that Bananas more closely captures Sennett's style or spirit than the Great Race?  Even if you didn't see either film, you can base your analysis on today's Daily Dose vs. lat week's Daily Dose for the Great Race?  I must agree that the Great Race lacks structure, depth, theme, as well as character.  I found the Great Race to be nonsensical, as well as oddly ridiculous.  Fieldings seems to be a more realistic character than that Eric Von Whoopee, or whatever his name was.  The Great Race  was totally fun, colorful, action packed, loaded with spills, chills, and vaudeville style humor.  Bananas was more modern day contemporary than The Great Race.  I could better relate with Fieldings' down to earth character other than Von What's His Name.  Even though, it was a tight race, neck to neck, I'd chose Fielding by a nare.


  • riffraf and Motorcitystacy like this

#46 Russell K

Russell K

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 38 posts
  • LocationIndianapolis, Indiana

Posted 26 September 2016 - 06:02 PM

1. In what ways does this scene from Bananas operate as both slapstick comedy and as parody?

There is parody of the revolutionaries and also of the Peace Corps rep, who is trying to not make waves and seems wimpy compared to the soldiers that surround him.  There is parody of the old western "round the campfire" drawing of straws.  

 

As noted in Slapstick Spoofs Part 1 - Slapstick Goes Bananas - "[Bananas is a] comedy of ideas....that are closer to the springs of a truly political satire than most of the pseudo insight that passes for political satire in the media these days

 

But, there are also the elements of slapstick - exaggeration in the size and details of the food order, make believe that the situation would be dealt with by the cashier with no surprise,  

 

Also, in my very limited reading about Woody Allen, a common theme emerges - the man is complex, hard to categorize, does respect the pioneers of the past (Groucho), but whistles to his own tune - so given the question above, Allen probably operates in both of these spheres, and also in some I haven't even thought of!  

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Mast in his view that Bananas more closely captures Sennett's style or spirit than The Great Race? 
 
I don't know that I can answer this question, since I have not seen enough of Sennett's parodies of DW Griffith or the DW Griffith originals to fully understand Sennett's style and spirit.  I do think The Great Race clearly makes no bones about it being a larger than large comedic spoof with old gags, whereas Woody Allen has always had a reputation as more cerebral and more difficult to categorize, 

  • riffraf, Motorcitystacy and HEYMOE like this

#47 Janeko

Janeko

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 05:55 PM

The parody of war movies is in the absurd idea of a peace corps volunteer winding up as a guerilla fighter and the group  being in the jungle and yet close enough to a Jewish style deli where they can get take out food. I've never seen the entire movie, so I don't know how much more outlandish it gets.

 

There isn't really anything is this clip that I would identify as real physical slapstick, especially compared to The Great Race clip.  I did enjoy the give and take (the verbal slapstick)  between Allen and the counterman as Allen first orders a cup of coffee and then gives the crazy take out order.  The counterman asks all of the questions you would expect, acting as though there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about the order.  The sight of all of those wheelbarrows filled with cole slaw was hilarious. 

 

I did think of Sennett's Keystone Cops piling out of the police station when I watched all of the deliverymen marching out of the deli carrying bags and bags of food and then the guys marching down the road with the wheelbarrows of cole slaw,  But in general, this film clip is so much more low key in its type of comedy than the craziness of the pie throwing scene from The Great Race.


  • riffraf, Marianne, Motorcitystacy and 2 others like this

#48 JazzGuyy

JazzGuyy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 39 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 05:43 PM

I see more elements of Harold Lloyd and the Marx Bros. than I see Sennett comedy. Allen is sort of like the Lloyd 'glasses' character in that he is thrown into a situation where he is a duck out of water and often intimidated by those who are bigger and stronger but can find a way to triumph in the end because of his intelligence and maybe some lucky chance events. The Marx elements are in the dialog which seems to often make little sense but the viewer can still perceive an underlying element of satire and ridicule of things like war and revolution.

 

I can't really agree with Mast. I just don't see either the pacing or the continuous stream of gags that I associate with Sennett.


  • GeezerNoir, riffraf, Marianne and 4 others like this

#49 jenikoterba

jenikoterba

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 05:42 PM

I agree totally with you - the cerebral part is there but not the outright physical portion.

 

I'm wondering if Woody Allen is also a polarizing comedian...not just for his personal actions...but because of the very dry cerebral humor and lack of physicality.  His appeal has never seemed as wide to the masses as the others we have discussed.  His humor is a little exhausting at times because the viewer needs to be plugged in to what the gag is because he's not always going to tip his hat with the physical aspect.

 


 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Mast in his view that Bananas more closely captures Sennett's style or spirit than The Great Race? 

 

I'd say from a cerebral standpoint, there is mirroring of the Sennett style - but from a physical standpoint, definitely 'no.'  I'd have to split the difference between the two films. The physicality of Bananas is greatly restrained in comparison to the Sennett years and even to 'The Great Race.'  Woody Allen's brand of humor really pushes toward the cerebral aspects of humor without the overt physical slapstick that we know so well from historical slapstick cinema.

 


  • riffraf, Russell K and Heather Mary like this

#50 ScottZepher

ScottZepher

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 31 posts
  • LocationHarrisburg, PA

Posted 26 September 2016 - 05:25 PM

1. Exaggeration reigns throughout the entire clip, from the "drawing straws,"  to the outrageous deli order.  While there is a suggestion of potential violence, this could be seen as an element of slapstick or parody. The musical interlude, twists on classic lines ("you better get some rest . . .) and the use of extras (the 'lookouts" smoking outside, the quirky mix of delicatessen delivery men and catering staff) are some of the details which made this an excellent send-off of the "guerrilla/rebellion" genre.

 

2. I would agree that "Bananas," has " . . .an apparent structure (peace corps schlemiel ends up fighting with rebels) and a real one (four wheelbarrows of coleslaw moving surreptitiously toward the secret rebel base).

 

 

That being said . . .anyone notice they missed something?


  • riffraf, HEYMOE and Heather Mary like this

#51 Logano26

Logano26

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 10 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 05:11 PM

1. The reality of a robbery is very terrifying, but considering they are stealing wheelbarrows of cole slaw and 390 tuna fish sandwiches, the effect is both parody and slapstick, because the situation is outside the realm of reality. Today, it's hard to divorce Woody from his terrible deeds in the real word, but the man was a master of mixing high and low comedy.

2. Bananas' music, situation and antics all feel much more in line with the Sennett studio style than The Great Race, because the plots aren't the silly aspect, the reaction to those plots are the comedic engine.



#52 judith46

judith46

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 26 posts
  • LocationOhio

Posted 26 September 2016 - 05:10 PM

I would definitely come down on the parody side more than SS, and that's why I love Woody Allen.  I like the incongruity and outrageous situations, and the verbal asides.  The very idea of a peace core volunteer rounding up lunch for hundreds of rebels is very unlikely, especially set to the snappy dixieland music.  Not so much physical here, but the sight of wheelbarrows of slaw is pretty thigh-slapping!  Woody is always true to his down-trodden, nervous, Jewish character that he did in stand-up.

 

I don't see much connection here to the Sennett films, though some of the members have had some good insights.

 

As for judging artists on their personal life, we wouldn't be able to enjoy a whole lot of art, would we?


  • GeezerNoir, riffraf, Marianne and 4 others like this

#53 Pjdamon

Pjdamon

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 04:54 PM

I can see both slapstick and parody in this clip. The slapstick comes in the form of drawing sticks and then when Allen is ordering at the bodega. The size of the order is a subtle verbal slapstick and when the owner actually delivers the insane order it adds to the obscurity of the scene. The parody is in the setting of the film with the gorilla warriors or jungle warfare
I also disagree with Mast. I don't see Sennet in the clip. It does have the story line but Allen's comedy is much more subdued and subtle. Sennet displays not only a story line but it's physical with chases and other gags.

I have to admit that Allen is not one of my favorites. I do like his film Radio Days a parody of his childhood, radio programs and World War II. Again in that movie it's not so much physical slapstick but subtle verbal.
  • riffraf likes this

#54 gtunison

gtunison

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 04:31 PM

The fact that Allen is involved with revolutionaries trying to figure out how to get some food and decide by drawing sticks. Allen draws the short stick and goes to the cafe and orders a ridiculous amount of sandwiches and drinks with a straight face as a matter of fact. It is verbal slapstick in the way it is done.

 

It was not as over the top as The Great Race was. With it's cartoon feel The Great Race was more classic slapstick than Bananas. Bananas is more like watching a docudrama than a slapstick. I suppose that is the parody of it. Very dry humor with straight lines..

 

 

 


  • riffraf, Mandroid51 and Heather Mary like this

#55 redpaws

redpaws

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 04:22 PM

I find the music disconcerting and unconnected to the action .,I also think if the man taking the food order would have shown more exaggeration in disbelief of Woody Allens , order it would have been more enjoyable as slapstick.


  • ScottZepher likes this

#56 Lawrence Wolff

Lawrence Wolff

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 48 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 04:21 PM

1) It operates as parody, but I don't see the slapstick element in this. It is not violent and the exaggeration is downplayed in a quiet, almost serious way. And the food ordered would be from a Jewish delicatessen, not from a restaurant in a South American jungle. Does this make it funny? Yes. Does this make it slapstick? Not in my mind.

 

The deli owner's seriousness in taking the order made me smile and I laughed when the coleslaw is taken out in wheelbarrows. (I thought that joke could have been improved on by the deli owner counting the wheelbarrows as they go by and then, just as he is about to say they are short, have another deli clerk come out with ONE SMALL one serving container of coleslaw to complete the order.)

 

2) The Great Race is more closely like a Sennett comedy that this film. Allen's "Take the money and Run" and "Sleeper" are, to me, closer to Sennett. The gags are "louder" in those films than in this one. For me, parody alone is not necessarily slapstick. It depends what you do with the situation that you are doing the parody of. Ben Turpin played those situations with broad strokes, where Allen is using dialogue and minimal physical action in this clip, for the comedy. I don't see much of Sennett here at all. 


  • GeezerNoir, riffraf, Janeko and 3 others like this

#57 jay1458

jay1458

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 70 posts
  • LocationTexas

Posted 26 September 2016 - 03:59 PM

I think it operates as a parody in the fact that these are (gorilla) soldiers trying to decide who buys the food by drawing sticks. Then Allen's character  proceeds to go into the restaurant and order absurd amounts of food. I think,  I agree with Mast because the slapstick gag in "The Great Race" with the pie fight was similar to Allen's ordering of the absurd amount of food in "Banana's".


  • HEYMOE likes this

#58 CynthiaV

CynthiaV

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 51 posts

Posted 26 September 2016 - 03:58 PM

1. In what ways does this scene from Bananas operate as both slapstick comedy and as parody?

Although there is no actual violence there is the threat of it. The exaggeration and make believe includes the revolutionary leaders and a coerced Fielding Mellish who all live in the jungle going to a bodega deli to get food. It is outrageous and funny in its ridiculousness. "The short straw. Well, as long as it was fair." The music is so disconnected to the action. What is that sound? A kazoo? The physicality is not in pie fights or banana peel pratfalls but in the line of cooks and waiters under armed guard forced to deliver deli sandwiches and wheelbarrows full of cole slaw to the guerrillas. Even the reaction of the owner in taking the outlandish order is so surreal as if the order is nothing out of the ordinary. "...1000 7ups...mayonnaise, on the side..."

2. Do you agree or disagree with Mast in his view that Bananas more closely captures Sennett's style or spirit than The Great Race? Even if you haven't seen either film, you can base your analysis on today's Daily Dose vs. last week's Daily Dose from The Great Race.

I agree. Sennett also was a master of parody. He loved to parody his mentor D. W. Griffith whose large scale stories of melodrama and last minute rescues were instant classics and familiar to most moviegoers of the era. Sennett also developed many of his stories on the fly much as Allen did. Though Sennett is also famous for traditional "old time" slapstick more reminiscent with the physical gags of vaudeville, the circus and other traveling tent shows of which he was a veteran, the majority of his work predated sound pictures so it is unrealistic to not relate physical gags to his legacy.

So, I believe, at heart, Allen better represents Sennett's spirit of film production by parodying outrageous situations and stereotypes such as a Jewish man charged with feeding an army electing to go to a Jewish style deli miraculously operating nearby and ordering food one would expect to find in NYC instead of a San Marcos jungle. So yes, this clip is more aligned with Sennett than Edward's, "The Great Race." "The Great Race" does parody the actual race and other situations but the experience of the movie is one of nonstop violence and physical gags. It is so over the top the parodies get lost in the extreme physicality of the story. There is no subtlety as in Allen's films where the parody takes center stage.
  • riffraf, HEYMOE, ln040150 and 3 others like this

#59 John_Simpson

John_Simpson

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts
  • LocationKennesaw, GA

Posted 26 September 2016 - 03:55 PM

1. In what ways does this scene from Bananas operate as both slapstick comedy and as parody?
 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this scene operates as neither.  I'd argue that this is more surrealist or absurdist comedy than what anything that falls within the definition we've established for slapstick. As mentioned previously the counterman doesn't bat an eye and the cantina's staff, kitchen and pantry are able to fill this order. The whole scene is underplayed and I would point out that an underplayed performance and something called "slapstick". (This shouldn't be confused with Buster Keaton's underplaying his facial expressions since he would usually be running, jumping, falling or riding a tree in a hurricane at any given moment.)

 

As to the other, there has to be an object for parody. I'm at a loss to think of what this scene could be parodying. The closest example I can think of as a target is Pontecorvo's 1966 The Battle of Algiers but that was about urban guerrillas. 

 

Slapstick within a Woody Allen conceptual performance for me is better represented by the Life and Death scene in his 1986  Hannah and Her Sisters

 

See how the carbine spontaneously starts going off on its own as neighbors start showing up at his door ringing his doorbell and so on.  This is even an example of how the ensuing slapstick gags are superfluous to the plot at this point. 

 

 

2. Do you agree or disagree with Mast in his view that Bananas more closely captures Sennett's style or spirit than The Great Race? Even if you haven't seen either film, you can base your analysis on today's Daily Dose vs. last week's Daily Dose from The Great Race.

 

I disagree with Mast. Bearing in mind I don't think that this week's Doozy is in fact slapstick, I can prove my point by asking you to turn off the sound while you watch the two clips again to where we can find Sennet's style.  mast is welcome to his perception but I'll need more than his say so to see it for myself. Look at this clip from Bananas where we see a lot of absurd situations, but basically no slapstick until around 3:30 in the clip

 

 

 

I still don't see the "dizzy symphony" that Mast told us to look out for.


  • riffraf, HEYMOE, ln040150 and 1 other like this

#60 Wampus

Wampus

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • LocationNorman, OK

Posted 26 September 2016 - 03:42 PM

1. I think the conceptual parody in this scene is the preconceived notion of how a rebel would raid a town for food for the guerrillas in the hills as seen in spaghetti westerns and other b movies. Instead of swooping down on horses or motorcycles with guns firing, Woody makes almost a generic deli order but multiplied in grand fashion. This results in the slapstick in the form of the delivery of the order with wheelbarrows of cole slaw and each sandwich in its own bag. Also, there is almost a clown car effect of several white-clad kitchen workers coming out with food from what seemed like a one-man operated diner in the set-up.

 

You could provide lots of examples of Woody Allen in his movies up to Annie Hall having the clown's body: the playing the cello in the marching band and the soap gun getting wet in Take The Money And Run. the simultaneous lawyer and defendant on the stand in Bananas, the robot at the party in Sleeper plus many more. He of course changed course later, but those early movies aren't THAT cerebral.

 

2. I remember the New Yorker review of David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch said (quoting from memory so not exact) "A control freak's portrayal of an anarchist." And there's something analgous to The Great Race. It tries to capture a tone by recreating it, not rethinking it. And excess gets in the way of a key ingredient in comedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(timing)


  • riffraf, ln040150, Patti Zee and 2 others like this




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users