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Film / J-Men Forever

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The Firesign Theatre's most successful production beyond its audio work was this Gag Dub homage to the Republic Film Serials of the 1930-50s, consisting of several serials spliced together into absurdity. The villainous Lightning Bug schemes to conquer the Earth with Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, and only the J-Men — a dedicated team of tight-assed straights...err, straight-jawed men-in-tights — can stop him!

This movie contains the following tropes:

  • Awesome McCoolname: The Lightning Bug thinks up some better names for his overly-bland minions.
    Lightning Bug:'re the Freeway Freak!
    Arthur Wingnut: I'm sorry, Your Electricity, but I'm Arthur Wingnut...
    Lightning Bug: You WERE Arthur Wingnut—now you're the Freeway Freak!
  • Burning the Flag / Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Agent Burns indignantly refuses a bribe.
    "I'm going to have you wrapped in the U.S flag and burned personally by the President, in high-octane American gasoline!"
  • Brainwashed: The Lightning Bug attempts to brainwash the people of Earth with rock & roll broadcasts, but is successfully countered by schmaltzy music from the Military Underground Sugared Airwaves Command (M.U.S.A.C.).
  • Canis Latinicus: The motto of the J-Men is U Cannabis Smokem.
  • Cliffhanger Copout = Not Quite Dead: Lampshaded at the end, when a montage reveals that all the J-Men apparently killed during the movie escaped from their predicaments.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Spy Swatter is being tortured by Those Wacky Nazis with a Hurricane of Puns.
    Evil Nazi: "Welcome to the Hot Hitler Disco, where the beat never Gestopos. If we can't spring some info from you, we'll make you listen to Donna Summer all winter, until you fall."
    Spy Swatter: "Anything but That!, fiend!"
  • Disproportionate Retribution: John Wayne goes round bombing anyone who might be smoking marijuana.
  • Disastrous Demonstration: Admiral Ballzy accidentally destroys a skyscraper while demonstrating the deadly effects of rock & roll music.
  • Dissonant Laughter: The Caped Madman laughs constantly as he goes around inflicting violence.
  • Disconnected by Death: Happens twice.
    (An informer is making a secret call to J-Men headquarters when the Lightning Bug bursts in on him)
    (The Bug zaps him with his ray-pistol. On the other end of the line, smoke pours from the phone held by the Chief)
    The Chief: "Hello? Operator? Listen, we were cut off in the midst of a hot tip. I want to make sure we weren't charged for that call."
    • Later a J-Men gets caught in a Drowning Pit in a phone booth. On that occasion water pours out of the phone.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Dildonator.
  • Dragon Lady: The villainess Sombra.
  • Evil Laugh: Machine Gun Kelly does this with gusto.
  • Explosive Overclocking = Collapsing Lair
    The Bug: "Turn it up! More juice, Bruce!"
    Mook: "But you're mad — the Moon is being destroyed!"
    The Bug: "You don't know good music when you hear it!"
    The Bug: "That's what I call getting stoned!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: The rock & roll invasion is fought by the combined forces of the F.C.C. (Federal Culture Control), KRAP Radio, and M.U.S.A.C. (Military Underground Sugared Airwaves Command). Meanwhile wimpy security guard Billy Batchit becomes 'The Caped Madman' by uttering the magic word "SH-BOOM!", enabling him to take on all the vices of a J-Man of the Secret Service: S for Sneaky, H for Hateful, B for Bigotted, O for Obnoxious, another O for Double-Obnoxious, and M for Mean!
  • Film Serial: Clips from Undersea Kingdom (1936), S.O.S. Coast Guard (1937), The Fighting Devil Dogs (1938), The Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940), The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941), Spy Smasher (1942), Secret Service in Darkest Africa (1943), Captain America (1944), The Purple Monster Strikes (1945), The Crimson Ghost (1946), Radar Men from the Moon (1952), and Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952).
  • Gesundheit: Inverted
    J-Man: What do you know about this?
    (Analyst gives substance the sniff test, then sneezes)
    Analyst: Ha-a-a-hashish!
    J-Man: Hashish oil, eh?
  • Groin Attack
    Lone Star: (singing) "I'm a super copper on a super chopper! There's no job too dangerous or small for me! I'm the pro-tec-torrr..." (leaps a canyon on his motorcycle and lands hard on the other side) "Uuuugh!!! Owww I forgot my protector..."
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Caped Madman.
    Caped Madman: "Dirty towelheads!"
    Arab troops: "Wait, we're on your side! We're with the U.N!"
    Caped Madman: "U.N., hey? I'll show your what we think of you One Worlders!" (machine-guns them In the Back)
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Everyone makes these.
  • In the Hood: "We're seeking a hooded hood called the Lightning Bug."
  • Jet Pack: Rocket Jock mutters constantly about the problems of using an atomic-powered jetpack — such as the worry that his tailor has forgotten the lead-lining, the need to hit his springboard in order to launch himself into the air, sore arches whenever he lands, his shoes getting set on fire, and the risk of drowning inside his full-face helmet should he get airsick.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Any foreigner in the movie.
  • Killer Robot/Tin-Can Robot: R2ScrewU
    Rocket Jock: "Uh-oh, an enraged water heater!"
  • Large Ham Radio: Justified as it's Machine Gun Kelly. He orders a number of underlings trained as DJ's too.
    "Take them away and teach them to talk like me: reeallll sexy!"
  • Loud of War: The evil Lightning Bug's rock and roll runs cars off the road, destroys buildings and eventually the Moon after he cranks up his stereo too loud.
  • Master of Disguise: Used to explain why the Lightning Bug looks like half a dozen completely different villains.
  • Mr. Exposition: In order to frame the rather incoherent story, creators Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman play the Chief of the J-Men and his bumbling sidekick Agent Barton. The scenes are Deliberately Monochrome to match the rest of the footage.
  • The Men in Black: The J-Men, though they appear not to know it.
    Barton: "That kook said something about aliens being behind the whole thing."
    The Chief: "Aliens? Suuure. Listen, Mexicans and Canadians are always a problem. Next thing you know they're going to be blaming it on little guys in shiny suits from Outer Space!"
  • Parody Names: A number of them for the current (i.e., fairly dull and straight-laced) musicians Lightning Bug is fighting against, such as "Prissy Fey" (Percy Faith).
  • The Power of Rock: Rock broadcasts from the Lightning Bug's moonbase are powerful enough to cause cars to crash, buildings to collapse, and record moguls to commit suicide. Finally the moon itself is destroyed when the Lightning Bug cranks up his hi-fi too loud.
  • Red Alert
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The Lightning Bug and various other characters.
  • Superheroes: Colonel Kink, aka Rocket Jock (Commando Cody/Larry Martin, aka the Rocketman), Spy Swatter (Spy Smasher), the Caped Madman (Captain Marvel) and the Lone Star (Captain America).
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll
    Juicy Withers: "This kind of music could get me pregnant."
  • Spinning Paper: The Herald Exaggerator.
  • Spy Speak: The cryptographers are convinced the rock 'n' roll music is a secret code.
    "Da doo run run...what can that mean?"
  • Stock Footage: The oft-used scene from the 1933 movie Deluge — where New York City gets swamped by a tidal wave — makes one more appearance.
  • Stoner Flick: Yes, the Bug's into drugs! After his rock & roll invasion fails, the Lightning Bug decides to import hash oil to corrupt America, eventually launching a huge hash missile at Lost Los Angeles. Fortunately Rocket Jock disregards his personal feelings about the city and destroys the missile, getting a faceful of hash smoke in the process.
    Rocket Jock: "Makes me feel like I'm flyyyyiiiiiiiing!!!"
  • Take That!: Plenty of jabs at popular targets of The '70s; e.g., the FBI, the Pentagon, and the Vietnam War. Plus Los Angeles and New York City.
  • Toasted Buns: Cody complains that his feet are on fire, along with the many other problems of using an atomic-powered jetpack.