Theatre: Bullshot Crummond
is a 1974 play which parodied 1930s British heroes like Bulldog Drummond
. The play was written by Ronald E. House, Diz White, John Neville-Andrews, Alan Shearman, and Derek Cunningham — who also took roles in the theatre production. The characters they played are:
Adapted for film as Bullshot
in 1983. A production of the stage version appeared on television in 1979 under the Broadway on Showtime
The play homages and spoofs numerous tropes of the genre, including:
Some of the following tropes from the film may also apply to the original play, but somebody who's seen it is going to have to sort them out
- Applied Phlebotinum (also Homemade Inventions and Mad Scientist Laboratory): Various devices for creating Vocal Reiteration (voice mimicking), Converse Forcefield (immobilisation beam), and Gaseous Particle Propellant (marijuana dispenser).
- Bald of Evil: Otto's boast that Bullshot will soon be out of his hair earns him a puzzled look from his henchman Crouch.
- Banister Slide: Bullshot does this backwards — thus he misses seeing the newel and ends up limping away in great pain.
"Captain Crummond, are you shot?!"
- Battle Butler: Dobbs (for the hero) and Crouch (for the villain).
- Celibate Hero: "Is this seemly, Mrs. Platt-Higgins? Playing popular music and your husband only ten years dead?"
- 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."
- Combat Pragmatist: Bullshot takes off his jacket to engage in Good Old Fisticuffs, whereupon Otto kicks him in the groin while his arms are immobilised.
- Determinator: Bullshot.
"Is there no limit to that man's tenacity?"
- Education Through Pyrotechnics: When Professor Fenton's clumsy daughter causes an explosion in his lab he exclaims: "I told you never to do that! That's how we lost Mummy!"
- 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.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Myra the giant octopus reaches into some extremely personal places.
Bullshot: "I can't control this thing between my legs! It's got a mind of its own!"
Rosemary: "It's so...big!"
Bullshot: "Never mind that! Beat it off!"
- Heel-Face Turn: Crouch
- 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.
- I Resemble That Remark
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?"
"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.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Spoofed by having Bullshot thrusting out his jaw when he walks on-screen.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Professor Fenton is being interrogated via a malfunctioning Involuntary Lingual Slippage device.
Lenya: "And where is your beloved Rosemary hiding?"
Professor Fenton: "She's not my beloved Rosemary, she's a pain in the ARRRRRRGH!"
- Lethal Chef: Rosemary's rock-hard scones are a Running Gag.
- Lingerie Scene: The Cat Fight between Rosemary and Lenya.
- Love at First Sight: Bullshot and Rosemary fall in love the moment they lay eyes on each other. Orchestra music swells as Bullshot bends down to kiss her hand...only to have a waiter shove a menu in front of his face. Neither will admit their feelings until they're both facing imminent death through drowning whilst imprisoned in giant concrete eggcups.
- 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.
- Sherlock Scan / Selective Obliviousness: Bullshot has amazing powers of observation and deduction, but fails to notice when the villains are right under his nose.
- Something Else Also Rises: Archy walks in on Bullshot dressed in his underclothes, excited by the fact that he's got a case to solve. The exact nature of his excitement is...obvious.
- 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.
- Unholy Matrimony: Lenya and Otto.
"There is a bond of evil between us!"
- The Vamp: Lenya finds Bullshot very attractive, and enjoys letting Otto know it. After Otto bites the dust she turns her attentions toward Professor Fenton.
- Un Entendre: Bullshot is shocked by the apparently rude nature of Rosemary's pro-feminist speech.
Rosemary: "Times are changing, Hugh Crummond. I feel it in my bweast."
Bullshot (gulps): "Please! That's trench language!"
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!"