Friday 22 July 2011

Pork-Pie Peril in movies


From a history of the Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy Operas.

The Mikado" had, of course, a very long original run. This engendered, eventually, a somewhat irresponsible attitude on the part of certain members of the cast.

Gilbert had made it his business to check up - and George Grossmith was not exempt from censure over his antics with Jessie Bond, who was playing Pitti-Sing. Gilbert had heard that in their scene with the Mikado, when kneeling before him, Jessie Bond had given Grossmith a push, and he had rolled right over.

Gilbert taxed the actor with this.

But I got a big laugh", protested Grossmith.

So you would if you sat on a pork pie", retorted the author.


"Pork Pie" laughs are laughs for the sake of laughs: laughs which - and this is why Gilbert opposed them - detract from the work as a whole.


Modern movies have an analogous problem with Pork Pie Peril - needless injections of arbitrary and artificial suspense and shocks.

For example, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, the three heroes are attacked by Death Eater villains during the course of a wedding celebration and just manage to escape by 'disapparating' (teleporting) into central London.

Then comes the Pork Pie Peril - the three heroes happen re-appear right in front of an on-coming double decker bus, and only just manage to get out of the way before being run-over.


These stupid injections are presumably taught in film school nowadays, since they are in almost every movie; including some of the best.

Directors must realize that Pork Pie Peril works like cheap laughs: they make movies worse, not better.



Anonymous said...

although less commented on, your lighter thoughts are appreciated as well

Brett Stevens said...

The modern time is addicted to distraction, and to details trumping the whole.

That way there is no agenda, through comparison to which the actions of individuals can be seen as wanting. Thus individuals are safe to do whatever they want.

They like that, although the socialized cost is the destruction of all nice things.

Wm Jas said...

From C. S. Lewis's essay "On Stories":

I was once taken to see a film version of King Solomon’s Mines. Of its many sins – not least the introduction of a totally irrelevant young woman in shorts who accompanied the three adventurers wherever they went – only one here concerns us. At the end of Haggard’s book, as everyone remembers, the heroes are awaiting death entombed in a rock chamber and surrounded by the mummified kings of the land. The maker of the film version, however, apparently thought this tame. He substituted a subterranean volcanic eruption, and then went one better by adding an earthquake. Perhaps the scene in the original was not ‘cinematic’ and the man was right, by the canons of his own art, in altering it. But it would have been better not to have chosen in the first place a story which could be adapted to the screen only by being ruined. Ruined, at least, for me. No doubt if sheer excitement is all you want from a story, and if increase of dangers increases excitement, then a rapidly changing series of two risks (that of being burned alive and that of being crushed to bits) would be better than a single prolonged danger of starving to death in a cave. But that is just the point. There must be a pleasure in such stories distinct from mere excitement or I should not fell that I been cheated in being given the earthquake instead of Haggard’s actual scene.