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There was a time when heroes were straight-limbed, lantern-jawed, well-bred, and British!
— From the trailer
Bullshot is a 1983 film adaptation of the play Bullshot Crummond, which parodied 1930s British heroes like Bulldog Drummond and Biggles. The film was written by and starred Ronald E. House, Diz White, and Alan Shearman.note The original play had two additional co-writers and co-stars, John Neville-Andrews and Derek Cunningham, who were not involved in the film. The main characters are:
Covert Pervert: Especially true of Rosemary, but there's a general idea that the characters aren't the pure, sexless Brits they present themselves to be. Not that it's lacking on the villain side either — Otto oggles an unconscious Rosemary in the back seat of his Mercedes, but he can't get the divider to stay down and hide what he's doing. Lenya spies on Bullshot getting out of the bath and is quite impressed. And Crouch always seems to be manhandling the Damsel in Distress around by her breasts.
Cliffhanger Copout: Otto freezes Bullshot in an immobilisation ray, then plants a stick of dynamite in his mouth which will explode if anyone disrupts the field by opening the door. Bullshot later reappears unharmed with a ludicrous explanation of how he escaped:
"When you directed Dobbs to the room where I was paralysed there was one small thing you hadn't accounted for — that he would be wearing a regimental club tie which is 100% silk! The static electricity temporarily neutralised the forcefield, giving me time to take advantage of the inflammable properties of the brandy that you offered me earlier. Within the small amount of neck movement available to me under the magnetic paralysis, I formed my nasal cavity into a type of Liebig condenser, thereby concentrating the alcohol fumes in one place. I then forced the fumes down each nostril with such intensity that they were combusted by the lighted end of the dynamite, thus forming a natural blowtorch which completely severed the fuse, rendering the dynamite totally harmless. The rest was easy."
General Failure: Bullshot keeps running into former members of his WW1 regiment "The Royal Loamshires" who've been mutilated due to his incompetence. They include an aircraft mechanic who had his hand amputated when Bullshot started the propeller while he was checking the oil, 'Hawkeye' McGillicuddy who was blinded when Bullshot sent him down a hole to see if some ammunition was live, and Crouch — the short, ugly henchman of von Bruno, who was a handsome six-footer until the day Bullshot ran over him in a tank. The opening scene (set in WW1) has Bullshot giving a practical demonstration on why smoking at night will get you killed, which results in one of his men getting shot by a sniper.
Honor Before Reason: In an aerial duel in World War One, Bullshot forgoes the chance to kill Otto von Bruno when he sees the machine-gun on his Fokker D7 has jammed. Bullshot flies alongside and salutes his worthy adversary, only to receive an "ancient Teutonic gesture" in response. The act of chivalry is unfortunate, for as the Narrator points out: "The events you are about to witness would never have occurred, if he'd finished off that Fokker in the first place."
Improbable Aiming Skills: "By rapidly calculating the pigeon's angle of elevation in the reflection of your monocle, then subtracting the refractive index of its lens, I positioned myself at a complementary access...and fired. It was no challenge at all."
Also averted — while blasting away at a killer spider in his hotel, Bullshot nearly hits several people in the dining room below. He then spends the next few minutes running about searching for the "mad gunman" who's shooting up the place.
Bullshot: "So, you intend taking on the Second Most Dangerous Man in Europe by yourself do you? Have you given a moments' thought as to what you intend using for brains?"
Rosemary: "How dare you! I've done pwetty well without bwains so far!"
It Will Never Catch On: Bullshot scoffs at the idea that England could ever be run by a woman, or that the future world economy will be based on oil. The movie was made when Margaret Thatcher was in power, and a decade after the OPEC oil crisis.
Out-of-Character Alert: Despite a hilarious malfunction of the Vocal Reiteration device that forces Otto to talk at a sped-up rate, Rosemary doesn't suspect when her father tells her "I want you to London the formula bring." Only Bullshot realises than an Oxford man would never use a split infinitive, and so it must be a trap!
Patriotic Fervor: Subverted — Bullshot gives a patriotic talk on why England should rule the globe, but his tirade and body language become increasingly bizarre until Rosemary realises he's experiencing the classic symptoms (notably deluded ranting) of spider venom.
Photo Montage: The film ends with Bullshot and Rosemary getting married, as shown by a series of wedding photos.
Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: Otto immobilises Bullshot with the Converse Forcefield, then plants a stick of dynamite in his mouth which will explode when someone disrupts the field by entering the room.
Tempting Fate: "Oh you Scotland Yard chaps see spies behind every bush. What could possibly happen out here in the English countryside?" Cue dramatic music as we see the villains lurking in the bushes. After they've successfully kidnapped the Professor, Otto boasts "No-one can stop us now!" Cue dramatic music as Bullshot strides into view, his Lantern Jaw of Justice out-thrust.
Rosemary: "Not the soft words of the flapper or the housewife, but the exposed words of a new woman, a naked woman. Soon to be joined in her march to freedom by her sisters, who will eat and sleep together, and drive twactors for a living! Who needs a man's crutch? Your sex is all washed up!"