Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flop Sweat, thy name is 3 Amigos

Some comedies seem to come with their own marketing within it. For some reason, Ghost Busters comes to mind. And of course, the John Belushi-John Landis collaborations Animal House and The Blues Brothers arrived amidst a bit of a whirlwind themselves. Three Amigos doesn't quite hold its own amongst those giants, but it's not without its charms. Or to put it another way, even Chevy Chase couldn't totally screw this one up. The real stars of the movie are the costume design and the sets. With this and Pennies From Heaven, Steve Martin was way ahead of his time with the period piece stuff.
It's an odd mix, this film. You might say it's a hard PG. Lots of shooting for a PG movie. Even the Amigos' silent feature at the beginning was rather brutal for a silent pic. A knife in the chest? The Amigos' salute seems a little PG-13 as well, but who am I to question? Even though we cringe at times, aren't these also the things we're supposed to cherish? Will no one make the case for that? Take, for example, the subplot with the Invisible Swordsman. Sure, they needed something to fill out that pesky 5th reel, but is it still not inspired? And based on something, some obscure literary reference? I'll let someone else do the due diligence on that one. I did like the big phony backdrop they used for the Blue Shadows number, and My Little Buttercup seemed an awful lot like a song of the period
The DVD of Three Amigos is a tad threadbare. And shame on the film restorers as well! In several shots of the pic, as you can see from the image I chose, there's some kind of obstruction on the left side of the frame. That's a flaw of the camerawork and not of the DVD itself, like that stripe on the left side of the screen in Spaceballs. And during the scene where the Amigos decide to become the real deal, the picture was swaying back and forth a bit... just like in certain DVDs of Blade Runner! I can't vouch for the new one.
What else? Apparently, Alfonso Arau was actually 53 when they shot this, the lucky bastid. Chevy does an homage to the guitar work he did in that one SNL bit that takes place in a hip 50s bar. All you cats and chicks? Anyone? Landis probably wanted to name Short's character Neidermeyer... Nederlander's close enough, I guess.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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