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Film / Bullshot

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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 main characters are:

(Note that this page has nothing to do with the video game publisher practice of releasing doctored screenshots as "gameplay" screenshots - such screenshots are often referred to as "bullshots".)

The film homages and spoofs numerous tropes of the genre, including:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Professor Rupert Fenton, of the Royal Society of Scientific Discoverers.
  • Applied Phlebotinum (also Homemade Inventions and Mad Scientist Laboratory): Various devices for creating Involuntary Lingual Slippage, 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).
  • Bragging Theme Tune: A jaunty 1930s-style song praising Bullshot plays over the end credits. An instrumental version is played by a band during the first meeting between Bullshot and Rosemary.
  • Celibate Hero: "Is this seemly, Mrs. Platt-Higgins? Playing popular music and your husband only ten years dead?"
  • Comedic Hero: Bullshot.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Parodied mercilessly.
  • 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.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Rosemary is very ditzy and clumsy, amongst other things almost blowing up her own house by knocking into one of her father's experiments and managing to unintentionally insult herself ("I've done pretty well without brains so far!") She is however surprisingly resourceful and courageous when in danger and technically speaking she is the one who defeats Otto's plans in the end and rescues Bullshot.
  • Deathtrap: Bullshot escapes from several 'inescapable' deathtraps via a combination of outrageous luck, arcane knowledge, and all-round awesomeness.
  • Determinator: Bullshot.
    "Is there no limit to that man's tenacity?"
  • The Ditz: Rosemary.
  • Double Entendre: Plenty of 'em.
  • Drowning Pit: Bullshot and Rosemary have their feet sealed in giant concrete eggcups, then not only water but also a giant octopus are sent in to finish them off.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Otto's plane crashes at the end, though they Never Found the Body, and we conclude with a Photo Montage from Rosemary and Bullshot's marriage. The last photograph shows a scowling Otto disguised as their chauffeur.
  • Enter Stage Window: Bullshot tries to contact Rosemary this way, and only manages to attract a good deal of attention.
    "Just ignore me! I'm a collector of unusual insects!"
  • Evil Laugh
  • Explosive Results: 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!" His mood changes however when it's revealed the explosion has produced the catalyst he's looking for.
  • 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.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting
  • Groin Attack: Bullshot suffers two, one when a Banister Slide ends badly and one during a fight with Otto von Bruno.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Crouch
  • Honor Before Reason: In an aerial duel in World War I, 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."
  • Imagined Innuendo: 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!"
  • 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?"
    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.
  • Kidnapped Scientist: Professor Fenton
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Spoofed by having Bullshot thrusting out his jaw when he walks on-screen, and lampshaded in the trailer.
  • 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.
  • Lethally Stupid: Crummond makes even Clouseau look tame!
  • 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.
  • MacGuffin: Professor Fenton's formula for synthetic fuel.
  • Never Found the Body: Otto von Bruno's plane crashes at the end, and Professor Fenton states that "his body was never found". The final shot of the film shows him still alive.
  • 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.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Fenton begs Otto to spare his daughter from the giant octopus. Otto isn't interested at first because he already has the formula, so the Professor offers him Weapons of Mass Destruction as well.
  • Raging Stiffie: 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.
  • 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.
  • Sherlock Scan / Selective Obliviousness: Bullshot has amazing powers of observation and deduction, but fails to notice when the villains are right under his nose.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Doctor Who fans will recognise the sound of the Converse Forcefield as that of the Tesh blasters in "The Face of Evil".
  • 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.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Lord 'Blinky' Brancaster.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Bullshot over-reacts dramatically to the killer spider, while ever-screaming Rosemary remains calm.