Here’s to Beer

On this day of October 14 something wonderful happened 34 years ago. Before I go down that rabbit-hole, let me preface this post by stating that I like both my beer and films to be bold and distinct. During the late seventies, something pivotal happened to ensure the beer scene was about to get much better and eventually explode with quality and diversity, and during this same time some pivotal things happened to ensure that the movie scene would slowly become increasingly formulaic and homogenized. Three decades later and we now have over 2,000 craft breweries in operation, while craft films have been eclipsed by a lot of crap films that are as homogenized and market-driven as any bottle rattling down an Anheuser-Busch assembly line. The box office hits for this year are mostly remakes (Bourne Legacy, Spiderman), sequels (Men in Black 3, The Dark Knight Rises), prequels (Prometheus), or some amalgam of a recognizable franchise (The Avengers). This combination of spectacle-fueled and market-driven “product” gets test-marketed to death and is beholden to merchandise sales, delivering the visual equivalent of a piss-clear corporate Pilsner that has virtually no taste and is easily forgotten.

The first American film to have a “Part II” behind the title was The Godfather Part II, which came out in 1974 and was a box-office smash. Other box office hits that year included Death Wish, The Exorcist, Young Frankenstein, Airport 1975, Blazing Saddles, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Longest Yard, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Chinatown, Earthquake, The Great Gatsby, The Sugarland Express, The Conversation, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Are you keeping score? That’s one sequel, and a very good one mind you, while everything else in that lineup is composed of an original film. Okay, I was trying to avoid mentioning Herbie Rides Again… so, technically, yes there are two sequels that year. Still… 1974 was a great year. There is no need to extrapolate on the already well known consequences of what happened the next year, in ’75, when Jaws hit the screen, or two years later, in ’77, when Star Wars sealed the new (not-so-great) deal of the big studios putting all their eggs in one hellbound basket looking to up the ante on spectacle, but I do mention them because it neatly brings me to 1978.

On this day of October 14, in 1978, 34 years ago, something wonderful happened. That’s when President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337, which contained an amendment sponsored by Democratic Senator Alan Cranston that created an exemption from taxation for beer brewed at home for personal or family use.  On a federal level this made home-brewing legal, but the 21st Amendment (which repealed prohibition in 1933) left regulation of alcohol to the states, so the exact details of what can or can’t be done still vary from state-to-state. Either way, this was the beginning of a revolution that ensured an explosion of tasty new brews. It took a while for the seed of home-brewing to extend outward toward the movement now so clearly in view but, wow! What a difference.

Case in point: this last weekend I was at the Great American Beer Festival, an event that showcases the work of 580 breweries and over 2,700 different beers. It’s a three day event attended by over 40,000 people. Tickets sold-out within 45 minutes. Once inside you could find a line of 50 people waiting for a one-ounce pour of a sour beer by either Russian River or The Lost Abbey. These are the same people who won’t think twice about spending $10 for a glass of a seasonal beer at their local tap house, but will think twice about spending $13 to see a 3-D movie at the multiplex. It’s a situation best summed up by a recent New Yorker cartoon I saw by William Hamilton that shows two people drinking at the bar, while one says: “The other thing I love about drinking is that you can’t do it online.” This, of course, is the genius behind what the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema provides – a lure of one to compliment the other.

With that in mind, I’d like to now provide a short list of films that I feel would compliment a good brew. The key word is “compliment,” much the same way the right bleu cheese can be sublime when paired with the correct imperial stout. This means I’ll avoid the films that serve as agit-prop for A.A. (Lost Weekend, Bad Santa, Leaving Los Vegas, etc.), and I’ll also eschew the films about wine or hard liquor (Sideways, The Hangover). The idea here is to pick my pickled brain for films depicting an animated beer culture. I’ll apologize ahead of time to fans of W.C. Fields for not including The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933) here, but the title alone is too cautionary and the suds themselves get short shrift. I’m also skipping over beer docs (which preach to the choir) like American Beer, Beer Wars, or The Beer Hunter. Others get shoved aside simply for being too ghastly (sorry, Dudley Moore) or offensive (well, offensive to me, anyway, because they glorify Coors or P.B.R., like say Smokey and the Bandit and Blue Velvet, respectively). No, in the spirit of craft beers, let me instead pick a small handful of beer-related features that embody the exuberance I recently witnessed at the G.A.B.F. It seems appropriate to start with a film that was released during the same pivotal year of 1978 that made home-brewing legal:

Animal House, directed by John Landis, certainly did not glorify good beer, just beer. But it remains a pillar of politically incorrect hedonism that is referenced time and time again by the many films that have tried to replicate its completely unhinged and exuberant spirit. I’m not crazy about the fact that this film was responsible for spiking the popularity of fraternities, or that it made Toga Parties a rage across college campuses nation-wide. I’m also not crazy about how many sharks were hunted and killed because of Jaws, but I still think Jaws is one of Spielberg’s best films, just like Animal House remains a crown jewel for Landis. My favorite trivia on IMDB regarding Animal House is this:

The scene where John Belushi is teaching everyone the “dirty lyrics” of The Kingsmen’s 1963 song “Louie Louie” is based on an actual investigation conducted by the FBI from 1963 to 1965 in which the agency spent more than 2-1/2 years trying to “decode” the song because of the supposed profanity that was “hidden” in the muffled lyrics. After spending more than two years and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, the agency announced that it could find no “obscene” words in the song.

Next up: Beerfest (2006). Another “duh” title that is too obvious, of course, and one I’ve already posted about before. But it’s impossible not to mention it when talking about beer-related films, especially when put against the context of the G.A.B.F. I’ll admit to laughing my ass off the first time I saw it. Whether I was buzzed or wasted, I can’t quite remember, but either way it was a delirious experience that made me want to revisit it later. The second screening was not as kind, and akin to waking up next to a stranger with a pang of regret. Or, rather, like Beerfest‘s Barry Badrinath, when he wakes up with a face covered in blood and next to a mutilated deer and says “Oh no, not again!” Which is to say… the film still has its moments.

Let’s move from “duh” do “do’h!” with: The Simpson’s Movie. Homer Simpson’s passion for Duff beer illustrates a completely unapologetic and willful drive that is immediately understood by any beer enthusiast, especially if one has the imaginative powers to think that Duff beer might be on par with a Ballast Point Brewing Company Sea Monster Imperial Stout. (Yum!) The odds, of course, are far more likely that Duff tastes like Huber Light, but within the safety of a family-friendly cartoon it’s a bit easier to hope for the best. Plus, Homer has so many quotable beer related lines that you can easily buy a talking bottle-opener espousing his wisdom with lines like:

You’ve been rubbing my nose in it since I got here! Your family is better than my family, your beer comes from farther away than my beer, you and your son like each other, your wife’s butt is higher than my wife’s butt! You make me sick!

Beer… Now there’s a temporary solution.

All right, brain. You don’t like me and I don’t like you, but let’s just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.

Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

And let’s not forget  Homer Simpson’s beer song:

*ahem* La la la la… *ahem* LAAAAAA!! DOE…… the stuff… that buys me beer… RAY….. the guy that sells me beer… ME…… the guy… who drinks the beer, FAR….. a long long way to get beer… SO…… I’ll have another beer… LA…… I’ll have another beer… TEA….. no thanks, I’m drinking beer… That will bring us back to… (looks into an empty glass) D’OH!

Speaking of D’oh!, I’m now reminded of the pitfalls of writing in the wake of attending a giant beer festival, as I’ve now missed my deadline and will need to speed things up, and will keep it brief from here on out. Let’s continue with:

Withnail and I

This boozy weekend in the English countryside circa the late sixties is about two unemployed actors, Withnail and Marwood. Richard E. Grant’s powerful film debut as Withnail showcased a bright new talent, and Bruce Robinson’s film is full of piss and vinegar. Recent promotional Blu-Ray’s even included a Handmade Films beer glass. (Want.)

Grabbers

This recent UK monster film shot entirely in Ireland has a winning premise: island denizens are invaded by bloodsucking aliens and there only chance at survival is to get, and stay, drunk – so as to toxify their blood, alcohol being unpalatable to the aliens. I wish Howard Hawks had thought of this! Grabbers is a fun bit of entertainment that leans a bit too heavily on the C.G.I., but is still highly recommendable – especially with Halloween right around the corner.

Slapshot

This film by George Roy Hill stars Paul Newman as the hard-drinking, foul-mouthed coach behind a failing ice hockey team. Again, this period of the late seventies was rich with portraits of despondent losers, working class grunts, and all kinds of shag carpeted squalor. Pure analog joy, no green screens or tidy characters, but rather a beautiful mess of people acting in unpredictable ways. Plus: funny as all hell.

The Shining

Okay, technically Jack’s drinking the hard stuff, but this masterpiece of horror by one of the most demanding and micro-managing geniuses to ever sit in a director’s chair needs to be the pantheon of films relating to drinking. Because it’s a horror film, it’s the dark side of drink that gets focused on, but there’s something rapturous about Jack’s longing to be part of the Overlook‘s party that echoes the exuberance exhibited by John Belushi’s character in Animal House as he smashes beer cans on his head. It’s neither the smart or right thing to do, but it does show commitment.

The Saddest Music in the World

“If you’re sad, and like beer, I’m your lady.” When that lady is Isabella Rossellini, playing the role of a legless beer baroness, luck be a lady tonight. Guy Maddin, working with different formats and mediums, delivers a visual feast that feels both classic and new, fantastic and weird, and is full to overflowing with carbonated joy.

Wake in Fright

Okay, joy is not a word I’d use to describe the Aussie landscape as depicted by director Ted Kotcheff, who is working off the novel by Kenneth Cook. However, when it comes to a beer-soaked universe, I can’t think of a single film that raised more pint glasses than this one. This re-discovered gem from 1971 was recently given great coverage by Jeff, and I defer discriminating readers to his post here:

http://moviemorlocks.com/2011/03/06/lost-in-the-outback-%E2%80%93-ted-kotcheff%E2%80%99s-wake-in-fright/

The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew

It’s as obligatory to mention this film as it is to remind people that it’s loosely based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the words of Bob McKenzie: “This movie was shot in 3-B. Three beers, and it looks good.”

The Quiet Man

Directed by John Ford, released in 1952, and starring John Wayne. This one gets two thumbs up for having Wayne stop by  a pub and say “I’ll try one of the black beers.” It’s a hand-pumped porter, and that’s what he drinks for the rest of the film. ’nuff said.

I’ll end with Repo Man because director Alex Cox, also a beer enthusiast, jointed me at the G.A.B.F. (seen below taking a pic of the crowd) and his film put a nice twist on the otherwise abysmal habit of product placement: he made sure every beer had a generic, white label that spelled out “BEER” on every white can. I actually remember drinking generic BEER around the same time of that films release (1984). It was horrible. A couple years later I discovered home-brewing, and there was no going back. (BTW: On behalf of Alex and myself, big thanks to Diana Vann and Mike Paige for the otherwise-impossible-to-get tickets to the G.A.B.F. – it’s nice to have friends in high places!)

In the words of Doug McKenzie from Strange Brew: “We hope you enjoyed the beer, oh, like I mean the movie, eh?”

0 Response Here’s to Beer
Posted By Anonymous : October 16, 2012 1:00 am

“God, I’d give anything for a drink. I’d give my god-damned soul for just a glass of beer.

Posted By Anonymous : October 16, 2012 1:00 am

“God, I’d give anything for a drink. I’d give my god-damned soul for just a glass of beer.

Posted By Doug : October 16, 2012 1:04 am

I love me some Bob and Doug-”Strange Brew” never gets old and yes, the twisted Hamlet works when it shouldn’t.
I recently watched a Chinese film starring Ziyi Zhang called “The Banquet”; it took a while for me to realize that it was also a re-working of Hamlet, partially from the Queen’s point of view.

Posted By Doug : October 16, 2012 1:04 am

I love me some Bob and Doug-”Strange Brew” never gets old and yes, the twisted Hamlet works when it shouldn’t.
I recently watched a Chinese film starring Ziyi Zhang called “The Banquet”; it took a while for me to realize that it was also a re-working of Hamlet, partially from the Queen’s point of view.

Posted By Doug : October 17, 2012 12:55 am

keelsetter, on the DVD of “Strange Brew” they have as extra features a few “Bob and Doug” cartoons which would be more appropriate for SNL than Saturday morning. I don’t know if they ever saw a broadcast, or were done for the DVD, but more Bob and Doug is always welcome. SCTV never had a lot of great acts, but the few Gold made up for the dross (Count Floyd for example).

Posted By Doug : October 17, 2012 12:55 am

keelsetter, on the DVD of “Strange Brew” they have as extra features a few “Bob and Doug” cartoons which would be more appropriate for SNL than Saturday morning. I don’t know if they ever saw a broadcast, or were done for the DVD, but more Bob and Doug is always welcome. SCTV never had a lot of great acts, but the few Gold made up for the dross (Count Floyd for example).

Posted By swac44 : October 17, 2012 11:39 am

I just watched Wake in Fright (a.k.a. Outback) a couple of weeks ago as part of an obscure Aussie movie binge (I was also able to find a copy of They’re a Weird Mob, a rarely-seen, post-Peeping Tom outing from Michael Powell, set in Australia and with much time devoted to downing a few tins). Watching Donald Pleasance playing a drunken madman is always a good time, and the boozed-up kangaroo hunt is a mind-bending sequence. Definitely worth seeking out. The Powell film is also an intriguing comedy, not one of his best films, but a great snapshot of Sydney in the ’60s, featuring some useful Aussie drinking terminology, like “It’s your shout” which means it’s your turn to buy a round, I guess by shouting at the bartender or server.

Since I live with an Australian gal, beer is a fixture in our household, and luckily I live in Halifax, which has three craft brewers within a short distance, and we can “rush the growler” (take a refillable jug to get stocked up) at all of them, for a fine array of quality IPAs, Imperial Stout, Peculiar (aka “insanity broth”), Extra Special Bitter, and seasonal oddities like pumpkin ale, spruce beer and jalapeno ale (not so fond of that last one). BTW, if you’re ever in Australia, keep an eye out for my favourite Down Under line of brews, Little Creatures, made in an excellent brewpub in Fremantle, Western Aus. I’ve heard it’s available from a few places in on the Pacific U.S. coast, but I haven’t come across it in North America as yet.

Posted By swac44 : October 17, 2012 11:39 am

I just watched Wake in Fright (a.k.a. Outback) a couple of weeks ago as part of an obscure Aussie movie binge (I was also able to find a copy of They’re a Weird Mob, a rarely-seen, post-Peeping Tom outing from Michael Powell, set in Australia and with much time devoted to downing a few tins). Watching Donald Pleasance playing a drunken madman is always a good time, and the boozed-up kangaroo hunt is a mind-bending sequence. Definitely worth seeking out. The Powell film is also an intriguing comedy, not one of his best films, but a great snapshot of Sydney in the ’60s, featuring some useful Aussie drinking terminology, like “It’s your shout” which means it’s your turn to buy a round, I guess by shouting at the bartender or server.

Since I live with an Australian gal, beer is a fixture in our household, and luckily I live in Halifax, which has three craft brewers within a short distance, and we can “rush the growler” (take a refillable jug to get stocked up) at all of them, for a fine array of quality IPAs, Imperial Stout, Peculiar (aka “insanity broth”), Extra Special Bitter, and seasonal oddities like pumpkin ale, spruce beer and jalapeno ale (not so fond of that last one). BTW, if you’re ever in Australia, keep an eye out for my favourite Down Under line of brews, Little Creatures, made in an excellent brewpub in Fremantle, Western Aus. I’ve heard it’s available from a few places in on the Pacific U.S. coast, but I haven’t come across it in North America as yet.

Posted By swac44 : October 17, 2012 11:48 am

Here’s a lesson in Aussie beer etiquette from They’re a Weird Mob: http://aso.gov.au/titles/features/theyre-weird-mob/clip1/

I also enjoy the pre-code 1932 Prohibition drama The Wet Parade, which pops up on TCM from time to time. There’s at least one scene involving “rushing the growler”, and a great cast that includes Neil “Commissioner Gordon” Hamilton, Robert Young, Myrna Loy, Walter Huston and Jimmy Durante as a federal agent (!). It’s a bit stilted in parts, but worth watching as a document of the era, from the short period of talkies made before Prohibition was repealed in early 1933.

Posted By swac44 : October 17, 2012 11:48 am

Here’s a lesson in Aussie beer etiquette from They’re a Weird Mob: http://aso.gov.au/titles/features/theyre-weird-mob/clip1/

I also enjoy the pre-code 1932 Prohibition drama The Wet Parade, which pops up on TCM from time to time. There’s at least one scene involving “rushing the growler”, and a great cast that includes Neil “Commissioner Gordon” Hamilton, Robert Young, Myrna Loy, Walter Huston and Jimmy Durante as a federal agent (!). It’s a bit stilted in parts, but worth watching as a document of the era, from the short period of talkies made before Prohibition was repealed in early 1933.

Posted By keelsetter : October 17, 2012 1:37 pm

Doug – Thanks for pointing out the cool tidbits regarding THE BANQUET and STRANGE BREW. I’d like to watch the Bob & Doug ‘toons, and know our local video store will help me out on that score.

swac44 – Your tip is definitely a bit more off the beaten path. Thankfully, Amazon still had three Region 4 DVDs, and I have dutifully snapped one up. Can’t wait to see THEY’RE A WEIRD MOB – and loved the clip!

As to Australian beers, one of my favorite beers of all time is SHEAF STOUT. I was greatly saddened when they discontinued distribution of that delicious (and affordable) beer here in Colorado. The last time I was able to enjoy a bomber of SHEAF was in Seattle a few years ago. On a side-note: I’d prefer to drink your insanity broth over the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout that Wynkoop recently released. Bull testicles in my beer? No thanks!

Posted By keelsetter : October 17, 2012 1:37 pm

Doug – Thanks for pointing out the cool tidbits regarding THE BANQUET and STRANGE BREW. I’d like to watch the Bob & Doug ‘toons, and know our local video store will help me out on that score.

swac44 – Your tip is definitely a bit more off the beaten path. Thankfully, Amazon still had three Region 4 DVDs, and I have dutifully snapped one up. Can’t wait to see THEY’RE A WEIRD MOB – and loved the clip!

As to Australian beers, one of my favorite beers of all time is SHEAF STOUT. I was greatly saddened when they discontinued distribution of that delicious (and affordable) beer here in Colorado. The last time I was able to enjoy a bomber of SHEAF was in Seattle a few years ago. On a side-note: I’d prefer to drink your insanity broth over the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout that Wynkoop recently released. Bull testicles in my beer? No thanks!

Posted By techieluddite : October 18, 2012 11:07 pm

One of my favorite beer drinking scenes was in the shawshank Redemption where the tim robbins character persuades the men in charge (can’t remember, was it the warden, guards?) to let the prisoners have a couple of beers after working on the roof of that building. It just made me imagine how good that beer had to taste. Just a real well done scene.

Posted By techieluddite : October 18, 2012 11:07 pm

One of my favorite beer drinking scenes was in the shawshank Redemption where the tim robbins character persuades the men in charge (can’t remember, was it the warden, guards?) to let the prisoners have a couple of beers after working on the roof of that building. It just made me imagine how good that beer had to taste. Just a real well done scene.

Posted By Juana Maria : November 1, 2012 2:03 pm

How much did you have to drink when you wrote this? The caption to the last photo has the word crowd misspelled! It reads crwod. Unless of course that a new word. The joining of the words crud and wod. Ha ha!

Posted By Juana Maria : November 1, 2012 2:03 pm

How much did you have to drink when you wrote this? The caption to the last photo has the word crowd misspelled! It reads crwod. Unless of course that a new word. The joining of the words crud and wod. Ha ha!

Posted By swac44 : November 1, 2012 5:25 pm

I think “crwod” is Welsh for “buncha drunks.”

Posted By swac44 : November 1, 2012 5:25 pm

I think “crwod” is Welsh for “buncha drunks.”

Leave a Reply

Current day month ye@r *

MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D  Action Films  Actors  Actors' Endorsements  Actresses  animal stars  Animation  Anime  Anthology Films  Art in Movies  Autobiography  Avant-Garde  Aviation  Awards  B-movies  Beer in Film  Behind the Scenes  Best of the Year lists  Biography  Biopics  Blu-Ray  Books on Film  Boxing films  British Cinema  Canadian Cinema  Character Actors  Chicago Film History  Cinematography  Classic Films  College Life on Film  Comedy  Comic Book Movies  Crime  Czech Film  Dance on Film  Digital Cinema  Directors  Disaster Films  Documentary  Drama  DVD  Early Talkies  Editing  Educational Films  European Influence on American Cinema  Experimental  Exploitation  Fairy Tales on Film  Faith or Christian-based Films  Family Films  Film Composers  Film Criticism  film festivals  Film History in Florida  Film Noir  Film Scholars  Film titles  Filmmaking Techniques  Films of the 1980s  Food in Film  Foreign Film  French Film  Gangster films  Genre  Genre spoofs  HD & Blu-Ray  Holiday Movies  Hollywood history  Hollywood lifestyles  Horror  Horror Movies  Icons  independent film  Italian Film  Japanese Film  Korean Film  Literary Adaptations  Martial Arts  Melodramas  Method Acting  Mexican Cinema  Moguls  Monster Movies  Movie Books  Movie Costumes  movie flops  Movie locations  Movie lovers  Movie Reviewers  Movie settings  Movie Stars  Movies about movies  Music in Film  Musicals  Outdoor Cinema  Paranoid Thrillers  Parenting on film  Pirate movies  Polish film industry  political thrillers  Politics in Film  Pornography  Pre-Code  Producers  Race in American Film  Remakes  Revenge  Road Movies  Romance  Romantic Comedies  Satire  Scandals  Science Fiction  Screenwriters  Semi-documentaries  Serials  Short Films  Silent Film  silent films  Social Problem Film  Sports  Sports on Film  Stereotypes  Straight-to-DVD  Studio Politics  Stunts and stuntmen  Suspense thriller  TCM Classic Film Festival  TCM Underground  Television  The British in Hollywood  The Germans in Hollywood  The Hungarians in Hollywood  The Irish in Hollywood  Theaters  Thriller  Trains in movies  Underground Cinema  VOD  War film  Westerns  Women in the Film Industry  Women's Weepies