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Film / Lemonade Joe

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"What's good for Kolaloka is good for the law!"

Lemonade Joe, or Horse Opera (Czech: Limonádový Joe aneb Koňská opera) is a 1964 Czech film, a ruthless musical parody of The Western, and a veritable minefield of deliberately planted tropes.

It features a miraculously skilled, clean and morally sound gunfighter named Joenote  who only drinks lemonade who arrives into a crime-infested whiskey-drinking town of cowboys.

Lemonade Joe was directed by Oldřich Lipský. The film is based on short stories and a novel by Jiří Brdečka who was fascinated with the western genre and loved literary and movie experiments. Brdečka co-wrote the script with the movie's director Oldřich Lipský.

Critically acclaimed and dearly loved by the Czech audience, this film is a classic and a true gem among Czech films.

Lemonade Joe includes examples of:

  • Action Hero: Joe. He protects the law no matter what it's like and he fights crime, unfair treatment and bad manners wherever he encounters them; saves Damsels in Distress; has excellent horse-back riding and aiming skills. And he utterly thrashes Horace Badman in something what's not even a fist fight because Horace doesn't punch him once.
  • Affectionate Parody: You get just how much the screen writer and director knew and loved their pulp western books, magazines and movies. (The original novel contains actually pretty faithful biographies of authentic Wild West legends Joe encounters, from Billy the Kid to Bat Masterson.)
  • The All-American Boy: Joe. Not only is he a gunman who protects the law and sings and plays the piano... ...He's also very hard-working and responsible as he represents Kolalok&Son Company and has great talent for advertising. He's also very rich, because he's "&son".
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Most of the men seem to have a crush on Tornado Lou, and Doug Badman hopelessly loves her too, but she dreams about a perfect love that would change her into a better woman. She falls for Joe, who doesn't reciprocate her feelings. What is worse, they are all in fact long-lost siblings. Perhaps it was good that Lou didn't love Doug and that Joe was so chaste after all. Good job averting a Brother–Sister Incest.
  • The All-Solving Hammer: At the very end, Kolaloka is revealed to be a magic drug that cures everything, even death.
  • The Bartender: Very typical. (This one even has a Kid Sidekick who seems to be a Nice Jewish Boy.)
  • Betty and Veronica: Subverted. It would appear that Joe might be choosing between Winnifred and Lou, but he likes the chaste Winnifred more almost immediately. When Lou tries to seduce him, he assumes she will want money, and then insults her for "loving him for free" — apparently unacceptable for a high class saloon girl. She's understandably shattered.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Grimpo is a large man himself, and his girlfriend among the saloon girls is big as well. He is shown kissing her hands and fingers affectionately, and she has other admirers beside Grimpo.
  • Bridal Carry: Doug is ordered at one point by Joe to carry Lou away. She fainted and there is going to be a show-down between Joe and Horace. Doug happily obliges and carries her up the stairs into Lou's room.
  • Bound and Gagged: Winnifred when she's kidnapped.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Horace Badman, alias Hogofogo.
  • Celibate Hero: Joe, much to the distress of Tornado Lou.
  • The Chanteuse: Tornado Lou sings at the saloon. Her singing about her dream of finding true love moves tough guns-lingers to tears. Yes, she's that good.
  • Character Title: Lemonade Joe
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: When Joe gets captured, Horace and Dougs minions — Grimpo, Coyote Kid and Pancho Kid — torture him. They destroy his clothes and get him mighty dirty. But he really suffers!
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The filmed is always tinged according to the setting or characters present. The outside is yellow (dark blue at night), the whisky saloon is brown, when Lou sings it gets purplish, the Kolaloka saloon is white, and love scenes are tinged with dark pink. It's visually stunning.
  • Cowboy: Joe, naturally - and of the "Singing" variety, no less.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Joe, several times. Whenever he falls down, his arms are wide apart. During the torture scene, he's fastened to a tree exactly as during crucifixion.
  • Damsel in Distress: Winnifred Goodman.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The screen is always tinged in specific colour and they keep changing according to the setting or characters who are in focus.
  • Disney Death: Joe gets shot at the end, but don't worry. It was only a double shot into his heart, his stomach and so on. One drop of Kolaloka cured him!
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: Joe, twice.
    • He lost several precious seconds when he stopped by a mirror to adjust his hat when he was supposed to hunt a black trumpet player (disguised Hogo Fogo who shot at him).
    • When he was leaving the barber's, he was really pleased by what he saw in the mirror. Judging from the barber's worried and exhausted looks, he was a pretty tough customer.
  • Dry Crusader: Winnefred Goodman and her father are members of Arizona Revival who fight for clean and honest country.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Grimpo would drink acid (spiced with pepper) and eat glass or wood, e.g. violin or walking stick.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Doug Badman is no saint and supports his brother in his villainy and uses him for his business, but he's disgusted when he hears that Horace wants to seduce (read rape) innocent and pure Winnifred.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Milos Kopecky was wonderful at playing villains, and he enjoyed Hogo Fogo thoroughly.
  • Famed In-Story: Hogo Fogo is very famous, wanted in 5 states and he killed at least 12 men.
  • Femme Fatale: Tornado Lou, all over the place.
  • Foreign Language Theme: Parodied with the opening song, "So Far to You I May." It sure sounds like Gratuitous English... until you notice the Word Salad Lyrics. Transcriptions of said lyrics take this up to eleven by writing the English words...with Czech spellings.
  • Group Picture Ending: The film ends with the main characters posing for a wedding photo in front of a stagecoach. Then they are seen Riding into the Sunset.
  • The Gunslinger: Too many examples to name.
  • Gun Twirling: Joe to epic levels. He often twirls guns on his fingers with both hands at the same time.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Virginal Winnifred Goodman has long fair hair and she's very feminine and sweet wholesome girl, admired by many.
  • Helping Granny Cross the Street: Parodied when the villainous Horace Badman tries to invoke this trope as a part of his evil scheme. He wants to overcome his nemesis and hero Joe, and as a bonus he plans to seduce Joe's fiancée Winifred. He disguises himself as an old blind man and pretends he can't cross the street. He knows that kind-hearted Wini will offer him her help, and then he could lure her into a saloon and finally kidnap her. It nearly backfires when a cute little girl is quicker than Wini.
    Little girl: Sir, I'll help you cross the street.
    Horace: What? Shoo, you brat! Herod should get you!
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold/Soiled Dove: Tornado Lou.
  • Ideal Hero: Joe.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Joe demonstrates this ability by shooting a fly in the air.
    • In one shoot out, Joe and Hogo Fogo keep shooting each other's bullets.
  • The Ingenue: Winnifred is a sweet, naïve and all-American wholesome virginal girl.
  • Instant Death Bullet: When two gunslingers duel to death, the bell tolls for them even before they draw their guns. Sure enough, they're dead on the spot.
  • Knight Errant: Thanks to Joe, a Double Subversion. At first we think Joe's a defender of the law; then we think he works in private business; then we realize that private businesses CONTROL the laws!
  • Kryptonite Factor: There is one substance that is Lemonade Joe's Achilles Heel. It's alcohol.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Winifred Goodman and Tornado Lou both love the Ideal Hero Joe. Wini is a sweet and naïve Ingenue with blond hair who dresses in white and is usually seen helping her father or visiting her mother's grave, while Tornado Lou is a dark-haired Soiled Dove and a Chanteuse who wears dark and skimpy outfits and works in a saloon but dreams of becoming a different, better person. Lou even has a song about it: "My soul is as dark as a tub of tar..."
  • Leaning on the Furniture: Joe casually leans on the bar counter.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Doug and Horace remained together when they were blown away from their parents, but they have one sister and one brother — Lou and Joe! Mr Kolalok is overwhelmed with happiness when they are reunited.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Doug Badman loves Tornado Lou. She doesn't love him back, and falls in love with Lemonade Joe. Sadly, Joe doesn't love her.
    • Both Lou and Wini love Joe. He seems to prefer Winnifred, and later falls in love with her.
    • Horace's eye catches the pretty Winnifred. She loves Joe and doesn't want to have anything to do with the sinister Horace who wants to seduce her, even if it must be against her wishes. Joe's rescuing Winni from him marks also their confessing love for each other.
  • Master of Disguise: Horace Badman. He wears wigs, false beards, glasses, black cream... He's really unrecognisable.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Winnifred and Ezra Goodman
    • Doug and Horace Badman
    • One of the show downs happens in Dead Man's Valley.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Horace sings about it in "Horace's Funeral Blues", describing how wonderful and over the top his funeral must be once he kicks the bucket.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The saloon girls in their skimpy outfits are very sexy, especially during their dance number on the bar counter.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: When Horace Badman kidnaps Winifred, he dazes her with ether and then carries her unconscious over the shoulder.
  • Painting the Medium: When Joe ominously approaches Doug's saloon, the screen is shaking with Joe's slow steps on the road. The sand under his feet crunches.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger: Hogo Fogo tears a piece of paper (advertisement for Kolaloka) with his signature in small pieces with gusto and tosses them on the ground. He's angry he had to sign it and beyond happy he could destroy it. Joe made him sign the advertisement when he defeated him and held him at gunpoint. To sign advertisement for a soft drink beverage is an insult to Hogo Fogo and his honour of a Card-Carrying Villain, and his brother's honour whose business relies on Trigger Whisky.
  • Parasol of Pain: Tornado Lou beats Horace with her parasol when he tries to assault Winnifred.
  • The Piano Player: Anonymous and indifferent as usual.
  • Preacher Man: Ezra Goodman.
  • Pretty Boy: Joe. Doug is shocked, shocked! that Tornado Lou, a lioness of a woman, a storm of a woman, a fate of a woman would fall for such a pretty naive boy.
  • Quick Draw: Lemonade Joe is a master of this skill.
  • Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Very rare gender-flipped version. Doug half-lies on the piano when he tries to persuade Lou to leave with him for Europe.
  • Tap on the Head: When Lou clonks Horace with a big porcelain vase, the result is surprising: he freezes as if he changed into stone.
  • Tears of Joy: Winnifred cries tears of joy at the end of the movie when she witnesses the happy family reunion.
  • The Teetotaler: Joe never touches alcohol. It's bad for your body and it ruins your aiming skills. He's a teetotaller to a fault. Even sniffing alcohol is his Kryptonite.
  • Those Two Guys: Grimpo's henchmen, Pancho the Kid and the Coyote Kid. Sure, they look vaguely different, but they're both obvious banditos, and the only real way to tell them apart is that one of them sings The Song Before the Storm.
  • Troperiffic: It plays with every trope and cliché imaginable for the Old Western genre. Deliberately Exaggerated, Parodied and Played for Laughs.
  • Undertaker: Exactly as expected. He's pleased whenever there is shooting and a body.
  • Villain Song: Horace has one which is very short and menacing, complete with screams of his victims.
  • The Wild West: The story is set in Stetson City, Arizona.
  • Worthy Opponent: When Horace thinks he defeated Joe (he accidentally received a signal that his men got him), he says that Joe was, after all, a respectable adversary.