Serpentine

I have been on a pretty rigorous diet of film watching this Summer. Last night I watched Carnival of Souls (1962) for the first time (it’s awesome), and before that The In-Laws (1979), Lake Placid (1999), Cronos (1993), A Man Escaped (1956), Hereafter (2010), Elevator to the Gallows (1957), and E.T. (1982). And that’s just this past week! I skew heavily towards 80s and 90s U.S. and 50s and 60s French cinema these days. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll have a full list oF everything I watched over the past 3 months broken down by year, nationality, genre, etc. A little data visualization of my watching habits . The original plan was to keep a weekly post on the bava of  films watched, but that died on the vine. I have the beginnings of a post where I have been adding everything I watched, and I just realized while writing this that a spreadsheet might be perfect for the “data crunching” 🙂 BIG MOVIE DATA.

Anyway, all of that is only marginally related to the post I planned to write. What I wanted to say was while watching the 1979 comedy The In-Laws starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk, I realized the Pixar animated movie Cars (2006) makes a pretty awesome allusion to The In-Laws—which I think is groovy (get it?). Anyway, in the following scene Arkin and Falk land on a runway in the imaginary Central American nation Tijuara  only to be shot at by the bad guys. While they are running for cover Falk gives Arkin this advice: “But remember, SERPETINE!”

In Cars, when Lightening McQueen thinks he is getting shot at by the sheriff (it’s just a backfire) he freaks out and yells, you guessed it, “Serpetine! Serpentine! Serpetine!” I couldn’t find the clip on the web, but I did find the 4 seconds of audio.

The In-Laws was one of the first films I saw on cable in the early 80s. I have a fond place for it in my heart (alongside other bizarre 70s comedies I saw in the early days of cable like High Anxiety and Foul Play). So re-watching it was risky because I was afraid it would disappoint, but quite to the contrary it held up quite well—although not the most liberated film when it comes to Central American politics and diplomacy. I can never get enough of Peter Falk, his whole being just makes me laugh. I mean when he says “What a guy!” in the scene above I believe him, and you start to wonder sometimes if he isn’t really Detective Columbo playing Peter Falk. Anyway, I’m surely not the first to pick up on this allusion, but I thought it was cool to have a recent Pixar film paying homage to a brilliant comedic scene from the 70s.

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10 Responses to Serpentine

  1. iamTalkyTina says:

    Well, as you can imagine, that “Serpentine” is an important part of staying alive for us and is in the @iamTalkyTina Handbook of Tradecraft and Skills. So when I saw “Cars,” I remembered it from “The In-Laws” when I was younger.

    Plus, that Peter Falk is a good one and I remember when somebody in the DS106 world made a GIF of him from a different movie back when they were learning.

  2. Trip K says:

    You see that the director (Paul Hiller, also the director of “Love Story”) recently died? “In-Laws” is one of my all-time favorites, and one of the ways I pulled my SO over into my crazy world of cinema.

  3. Trip K says:

    <– Too quick to think their memory is reliable.

    *Arthur* Hiller, not Paul.

    NYT obit

    • Reverend says:

      I actually was inspired to re-watch The In-Laws by a Criterion tweet linking to Arkin on Hiller.

      I just saw those two in their Tuxedos and couldn’t resist. And this as a gateway drug to wacky cinema is a beautiful entry point. So cool to hear other had a similar experience with The In-Laws, it’s definitely part of my cinematic childhood.

  4. iamTalkyTina says:

    I think UNCLE @JimGroom was confused when he said “Inconceivable!” because that actor one was Wallace Shawn who also wrote and starred in My Dinner with Andre the Giant.

    • Reverend says:

      Figured an old man like you would appreciate this 🙂 You and I could have been a great comedic cinema team like Falk and Arkin—if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and Florida.

  5. We in Kansas (at least people of a certain age) know about Carnival of Souls because it was filmed here. I suppose I should introduce it to my students for their cultural edification. There are plenty of films set in this state, but not many that were filmed here. Good to know you’ve seen it.

    • Reverend says:

      The director Herk Harvey’s story is crazy!
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herk_Harvey

      And industrial filmmaker who, like Robert Altmann, made this film to break into Hollywood. Whereas Altman made it out, Harvey never did. I think he taught at K-State as well. Carnival f Souls is a real masterpiece in ambience and expressionism, I kinda want to see his industrial films now 🙂

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