100 More Ideas That Changed Cinema

100 Ideas That Changed Cinema by David Parkinson is actually a nice book — respect to anybody who, writing about serials, gives a shout-out to ZIGOMAR. Now how can I see ZIGOMAR?

Still, I do think some of the things Parkinson refers to as ideas, such as “Typage,” “Bollywood” and “Kidpics” might not fit comfortably under that blanket noun. The auteur theory might be an idea, but is the studio system? I mean, did anyone actually have that idea or did it evolve like a, well, system?

Still, on the assumption that everything can and should be called an idea, I’ve come up with a further list of my own. This is just the first ten — you’ll have to help me finish it.

1) Killer bees.
2) Osgood Perkins.
3) The under-the-armpit shot.
4) Trousers for male actors.
5) Close-ups of buttons.
6) Walking/running slowly away from explosions without glancing back nervously.
7) Eyepatches for directors.
8) Saying “That went well,” after something has gone spectacularly tits-up.
9) Cats in sunglasses.
10) The bandoliers, nappy and thigh boots combo.
11) The giant crab in ONE MILLION YEARS BC
12) Musical number ending with long-held grin.
13) The putty nose.
14) Character losing job, girlfriend and something else all in one day.
15) Trailer VO that notes the above with expression “…is having a very bad day.”
16) Anne Francis in riding britches.
17) The word “britches.”
18) Gratuitous roller derby scene.
19) Helicopter disappearing behind trees or hill in order to explode cheaply.
20) The talking camel scene.


14 Responses to “100 More Ideas That Changed Cinema”

  1. a truly exceptional exercise sir — although there’s nowhere to go but down, once you’ve thought of Osgood Perkins….

    my contributions:
    1. Mirror scenes without mirrors
    2. Rear projection Leopards eating your car
    3. Clubs named “Silencio”
    4. Harry Dean Stanton
    5. Dictaphone confessions
    6. Picking film titles before coming up with plots or scripts
    7. Jennifer Jones shooting at people, especially religious zealots
    8. Adding gratuitous twins to taste
    9. Becoming irate at the mention of “badges”
    10. John Donne quotations on stained glass

  2. La Faustin Says:

    Pre-Code division, with bonus Osgood Perkins overlap: Exemplary Jews who behave like perfect gentlemen towards the heroine (TARNISHED LADY; qv. also Gregory Ratoff in WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD)

  3. There’s also a corollary to anagramsci’s #6 – A film which has three or more different proposed titles before release.

  4. Or new titles after release. Wild River became The Woman and the Wild River when it hit the burbs.

  5. That dates back to the silents. The lost Raymond Griffith film now known as A Regular Fellow started being released with the name He’s A Prince! and there’s a lot of ads and reviews using that title. Paramount seemed to dither the most as to film titles.

  6. I like best At Dawn We Die becoming Tomorrow We Live!

    34) Girl flees, falls, and twists ankle.
    35) Characters who speak different languages but somehow understand each other (Star Wars, 1941)
    36) Dogs who go get help, “trying to tell us something.”
    37) Sixties hair and makeup in films set in whole other decades.
    38) Tony Curtis’s hair, when he had it. (“My hair made Elvis possible!”)
    39) Diana Rigg touching her upper lip with her tongue while driving dangerously.
    40) People who get miraculously dry a shot later.

  7. Busby Berkeley, end of discussion.

  8. David Boxwell Says:

    –Venetian blinds, never fully closed.
    –Popped eyes denoting fear, but only for African-Americans.
    –White musical comedy stars wearing head handkerchiefs in polka dot prints.
    –Dogs that do not have cute faces rescuing small children from disasters who do have cute faces.
    –Athletic victories occurring in the last two seconds of a close game.
    –Time passing in windswept calendar and diary pages.
    –Glossy red fingernails opening invitations which also happen to be film credits.
    –Bullet-riddled corpses unmarked by tears in clothing or wounds or blood spatters.
    –Crucifixes on walls casting giant diagonal shadows as unseen choirs sing and actors’ eyes well up.
    –Before flashback to youth, actors age by adopting cracked voices, and full heads of gray-white hair on perfectly unlined heads.
    –Neon signs flash off and on to introduce characters in advanced states of dissipation.
    –Western showdowns shot through spread legs at ground level.
    –Hamburgers can only be eaten with black coffee.

  9. We’re up to fifty four by my count, that’s more than half a book already, people!

    55 Tough guy illuminated when he lights cigarette.
    56 Martial artists who can leap fifty feet in air, but still fall to their deaths when convenient.
    57 Cats with dubbed-on miaows when they’re not moving their lips (just so we know they’re cats)
    58 “What’s that you’re playin’?” “Just somethin’ I wrote.”
    59 Men who can have sex without undoing their trousers.
    60 Balsa furniture in barrooms.

  10. La Faustin Says:

    Again with the Pre-Code: exposition delivered while changing into/out of lingerie. Note to Aaron Sorkin: MUCH better than all that walking.

  11. 61: Credits? Actually we can just bung them on at the end.

    I was watching King Kong yet again last night and MY GOD but surely it must be responsible for at least fifteen ideas that changed movies. Even Citizen Kane seems to have assumed: hey, irrespective of the provenance of the cartoon birds, just look at the film’s name!
    Let me try and tote these ideas up:
    Monster as Jesus
    God as victim
    Talkies looking like Dore
    A star who acts one frame at a time
    Things that we know don’t exist looking like they exist
    Scores that know what you’re thinking and let you know they know (eg Yes we’re marking the footsteps)
    Dream sequence people-eating metaphors that last a whole movie
    An actor who plays an actor who acts something they will later have to act (eg Screaming at nothing)
    Lovecraft on film
    … Oh I don’t know, there must be more. Or others. Man it bugs me that is we must have a best movie ever made it isn’t this.

    (No King Kong, no talking camel scenes. It’s THAT important.)

  12. Wait wait wait … a giant crab in ONE MILLION YEARS BC? … you may have to forfeit your SEE REPTILICUS AND DIE credibility for that one, David —

  13. Ack — it’s a turtle in that one (and a real lizard), the crab is in Mysterious Island… I *knew*there was something bothering me about that one.

    Still, it’s an IDEA, even if it never happened… (Jeff Wells should use that excuse)

  14. Simon, yes — you could argue that the “unreal things looking real” dates back to earlier special effects enterprises (The Lost World, frinstance), but Max Steiner mickeymousing Kong’s footsteps is a good one (music is more important that sound effects in fantasy films), and may even predate Disney’s use of the technique, I don’t know…

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