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Film / Oscar (1991)

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Hmmm... this looks familiar.

Connie: Your daughter's not your daughter, and the cash that used to be your jewels is now your underwear!
Snaps: Now you've got it!
Connie: I got it! (beat) I don't even know what I'm talkin' about!

Oscar is a 1991 comedy film directed by John Landis. It stars Sylvester Stallone, Marisa Tomei, Chazz Palminteri, Ornella Muti, Tim Curry, Kurtwood Smith, Harry Shearer, Don Ameche and Kirk Douglas.

An adaptation of Oscar, a screwball farce by Claude Magnier. The original is about an industrialist trying to get back the money one of his employees stole and the resulting complications. This adaptation moves the action to 1930s America and makes the industrialist a mobster trying to go straight, adding an extra complication to the plot.

Not to be confused with the 1967 film Oscar (an earlier adaptation of the same play) or the 1966 film The Oscar (an unrelated work about the contest for an Academy Award).

The 1991 film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Truth: Theresa introducing herself to Anthony as Snaps daughter. Turns out her mother was an old girlfriend of his and he is her dad.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Every single character except for the titular one has their name changed.
    • Bertrand Barnier —> Angelo "Snaps" Provolone
    • Christian Martin —> Anthony Rossano
    • Colette —> Lisa
    • Charlotte —> Roxie
    • Jacqueline —> Theresa
  • Adaptational Nationality: The setting is moved from 1960s France to 1930s New York, and the cast of characters are therefore changed from French to American.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Snaps is a mobster instead of a businessman.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Dr. Poole's elocution lesson with Snaps:
    Snaps: When am I gonna start sounding like a banker?
    Dr. Poole: After me: [Dr. Poole rolls his "r"'s as he speaks] "Round the rough and rugged rocks, the ragged rascal rudely ran."
    Snaps [mumbling]: Round the rough and rugged rocks—
    Dr. Poole: Round the rough and rugged rocks, the ragged...
    Snaps: Round the rough and rascal, the ragged... Aw, look, Doc, I just can't do it. I'll never learn to speak good.
    Dr. Poole: Rocco the rum-runner rubbed out Rico the Rat with his roscoe for robbing his rum-running receipts.
    Snaps: "Rocco the rum-runner rubbed out Rico the Rat with his roscoe for robbing his rum-running receipts."
    Dr. Poole: You've got it!
    Snaps: Well, sure! You finally came up with something that made sense!
  • Arranged Marriage: Lisa is getting married in an Arranged Marriage when the film starts, only to have it fall through when the husband falls for their maid.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Vendetti’s manicurist.
    Manicurist *flirtatious voice* I finished your nails. Is there anything else I can do, huh?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Lt. Toomey is looking at the documents:
    Lt. Toomey: University Club, Harvard Alumni Club, Republican National committee? Wait a minute: the City Commerce board of directors, City Trade Association board of directors, the State Financial Advisory Board, committee to re-elect Herbert Hoover, East Side athletic club, and two tickets to the policemen's ball.
  • Aside Glance:
    • After receiving the last slap from his father, Angelo looks right into the – apparently missing – fourth wall.
    • He does so again after Connie suggests that the missing $50,000 turned into the underwear in the black bag as a miracle "like the loaves and the fishes."
  • Big "WHAT?!": Snaps utters one of these after Lisa tells him she's pregnant.
  • Blatant Lies: According to Five Spot, his job is an "Honorable Profession” Yeah, right! Listening to other people’s private conversation is definitely honorable.
  • Call-Back: Unlike director John Landis, Snaps is not a fan of Cab Calloway's Minnie The Moocher.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm:
    • Dr. Poole: She seems to have such nicely rounded diphthongs!
      Snaps: That's what got her into this jam!
    • Connie: Even in the old days he was known as an honest crook.
      Dr. Poole: That's an oxymoron.
      Connie: Gee, you shouldn't oughta said that, Doc.
      Snaps: Yeah, leave Connie alone. He does the best he can.
  • Canon Foreigner: The rival mobster, the cops, and Snaps' father don't really have an equivalent in the original play.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Nora's frequently handled bag of lingerie proves beneficial just when Lt. Toomey is about to nail Snaps, and Toomey is humiliated when he's left "holding the bag".
  • Chekhov's Skill: The fact Aldo doesn't make noise when he walks.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Snaps stands in front of the fireplace with his arms stretched out in a pose unintentionally reminiscent of the crucifixion of Christ after Sofia demands that Snaps finds a husband for Lisa and her unborn child; Snaps was just tired and needed to rest for a bit.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost everybody snarks, but mostly Snaps and Aldo. Even Dr. Poole has this moment when the bag is full of lingerie instead of the $50,000:
    Dr. Poole [speaking sarcastically while handling the lingerie]: Mm, that's right, Mr. Provolone, I've never seen so much money. Here's money, um... and here's more money, and— Oh, look. Here's a lovely new $20 bill.
  • Death Glare: Snaps and her daughter share one, after the former taunts the latter to hit her.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Angelo 'Snaps' Provolone, honoring his father's wish to turn from a life of being a prohibition gangster, is flanked all day by his men who constantly call him 'boss' to his growing annoyance.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Spoofed when Snaps states of all the lowlifes he met in his life, the bankers are the really scary people.
    Kirkwood: I hate to say I told you so, but that's what we get for going into business with a crook!
    Snaps: I'm a crook? You come into my house with your fine print and addendums and try to con me out of my dough? Geez, I'm used to dealing with mobsters, bootleggers, and gunzles, but you bankers... are scary.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Anthony converts his petty cash to jewels, which he keeps in one of the bags that keep switching.
    • Later, it was deciding to give up the jewels, rather than lose Theresa, that proved he really loved her.
  • Extended Disarming: The pile of weapons removed from Connie's person is so large and varied (including a meathook, a morning star, and a ticking bundle of dynamite) that it drives Snaps to say, "It's like disarming Germany..."
  • Fake Pregnancy: Lisa lies to her father about being pregnant so he will allow her to marry her boyfriend.
  • Farce: The film is closer to 1930s farces than modern comedies. Justified since the movie is set in 1931.
  • Foreign Remake: Of Oscar (1967).
  • Foreshadowing: When Snaps mentions that he knows about Lisa's "lover" she says she thought he left her for good. Since Anthony never mentioned anything about leaving, (and even if he did, he wouldn’t have been there in the beginning of the movie) this foreshadows, not only that Lisa’s lover is someone else, (namely Oscar) but also that he isn’t in the country anymore.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Connie, Snaps's right-hand man.
  • The Golden Rule: Parodied in Vendetti's office:
    Vendetti: We're gonna observe the 11th commandment: "Do unto others before they do unto you."
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Snaps, as Father Clemente enters the room:
    Snaps: That son of a...
    [Father Clemente enters the room] ...gun! Gosh-a-mighty! Cheese and crackers!
  • Grammar Nazi:
    • A Justified example is Dr. Thornton Poole, the speech therapist whom Snaps hires to improve his grammatical habits:
      Connie: Even in the old days, he was known as an honest crook.
      Dr. Poole: That's an oxymoron.
      Connie: Gee, you shouldn't oughta said that, Doc.
      Snaps: Yeah, leave Connie alone. He does the best he can.
    • Happens again when Dr. Poole meets Aldo:
      Aldo: Oh, Dr. Poole! Come on in. The boss been expecting you.
      Dr. Poole: Aldo, do you realize what you just did?
      Aldo: What?
      Dr. Poole: You used the past participle without a modifier.
      Aldo: I did? What's the rap on that?
  • The Great Depression: It's set in 1931, with an emphasis on both the collapse of the banks and the predominance of gangsters.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Snaps has a lot of things that anger him. One of the examples is that you shouldn’t even try waking him up before nine am.
    Aldo The Boss don’t get up before 9:00 a.m. Even the feds know that!
  • Hammerspace: Connie's coat, which hides a ton of weapons.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Oscar, up until the end, subverted when he tries to stop Lisa's marriage and is turned out on his ear.
  • Historical In-Joke: Mob boss Angelo Provolone asks his accountant Little Anthony why he doesn't remember something, to which Anthony replies, "You were in Chicago. It was St. Valentines Day?"
  • I Gave My Word: Snaps is insistent on fulfilling his father's dying wish in the face of the day's mounting insanity, only giving up after the bankers try and fail to rip him off.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Snaps, who already has a marriage set up for Lisa whether she likes it or not, and resorts to deception, blackmail, threats, and bribery to get her a husband when he thinks that she's pregnant.
  • Last Request: Snaps promises his dying father that he'll give up his life of crime at the beginning of the film, thus setting things in motion.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    Snaps: Damn! Son of a— (sees Father Clemente) gun, gosh almighty! Cheese and crackers!
  • Leitmotif: "Largo al factotum della citta" from The Barber of Seville, with vocal performances at the beginning and end, and instrumental excerpt reprises throughout the film.
  • Love at First Sight: The Arranged Marriage Angelo makes for Lisa falls through because the guy fell in love with the family's maid.
  • Luke, You Are My Father / Luke, I Am Your Father: Theresa said she was Angelo's daughter to make Anthony think she came from a well-to-do family. She later confesses this lie to Angelo himself. Neither she nor Angelo knew that Theresa really is Snaps' daughter from when he and her mother Roxanne worked for the same mob boss.
  • Malaproper: Aldo, as noticed by Dr. Poole's observation of Aldo:
  • Meaningful Name: Angelo "Snaps" Provolone, because he snaps his fingers, and he has frequent anger snaps.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Lisa tricks Snaps into thinking she's pregnant so he'll let her marry whom she thinks is her ex, Oscar.
  • Mistaken Identity: Snaps thinks Anthony wants to marry Lisa at first, while Lisa thinks Oscar came back to marry her when he tells her.
  • Mixed Metaphor: When the cops are staked out on a surveillance of Snaps' mansion:
    Lt. Toomey: A leopard don't change its stripes.
    Officer Keough: You mean spots.
    Lt. Toomey: I mean Snaps!
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: The bankers are a snotty lot who only care about the million stricken by poverty in regards to how it will affect their business and are happy at the idea of taking Snaps money to be a partner but then denying him much influence.
  • My Beloved Smother: Thornton identifies with Lisa wanting to get out of the house, since his mother "can be so possessive".
  • Mood Whiplash: Downplayed. The cheerful theme song turn into creepy when the camera zooms to Toomey’s hideout.
  • The New Rock & Roll: An anachronistic 1930's variant (since rock and roll wasn't around in the '30s) when Snaps enters Lisa's room:
    Snaps: It's this music you kids listen to today! Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway... Don't think I haven't heard the lyrics to "Minnie the Moocher."
  • Not Named in Opening Credits: Snaps' father, Eduardo Provolone on his death bed, played by Kirk Douglas.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: See the page quote.
  • Off the Table: When the bankers showed they didn't trust Angelo, he ended up not doing business with them.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Snaps browbeats Anthony into marrying Lisa by convincing him that his tailors, the Finuccis are really hired killers. When they later brag about their success (a photo of a murdered gangster wearing one of their suits) and offer to make him a suit, Anthony thinks they're the ones who killed him and are threatening to do the same to him.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The presumably-Irish maid drops her accent as soon as she's out of the Provolone household, but turns it back on when she returns for her bag.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The Extended Disarming example above.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Lisa and Dr. Poole get shoved together rather abruptly as a matter of convenience but turn out to have a lot in common and get along nicely.
  • Piecemeal Funds Transfer: Anthony, who took over Snaps' bookkeeping, used the protection profits to upgrade the bootlegging, and save 10 cents on each bottle of beer, only to lower the costs by 5 cents instead of 10, and accumulated a sizable nest egg of $50,000 a nickel at a time.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted with Lt. Toomey, who fails to find the money after he's left "holding the bag" of lingerie, but then has a "run-in" with Vendetti's gang, whom he promptly arrests afterwards.
  • Ponzi Scheme: Anthony offers to buy the $50,000 worth of jewelry (which he acquired by embezzling from Snaps) by attempting to buy back the jewels from Snaps with another $50,000 he had also embezzled from Snaps, in a "rob Peter to pay Paul scenario".
    Anthony: I'll make you a deal, Mr. P.
    Snaps: What kind of a deal?
    Anthony: Well, I've become attached to those jewels; they remind me of Theresa. I'd like to buy them back from you for $50,000.
    Snaps: Now where'd you come up with another 50,000 smackers?
    Anthony: I stole it from you.
    Snaps: CONNIE!
    Connie [entering the room]: What is it, boss?
    Connie [Snaps takes what he thinks is a gun, but is actually a leg and thigh of chicken]: You took my gun.
    Snaps: Now you're trying to tell me you stole another 50,000 clams since the last time I saw you?
    Anthony: Remember that dummy corporation I set up for you to hide your protection income?
    Snaps: Yeah.
    Anthony: Remember who you made treasurer as a beard?note 
    Snaps: You didn't!
    Anthony: I just wrote out a check to myself. As treasurer, the bank asked me no questions.
    Snaps: Only a rat would steal another guy's extortion money.
    Anthony: Here's my offer: You give me back the jewels that are rightfully mine, and I'll give you back the money, which isn't.
    Snaps: All right, I guess you outsmarted me. You give me that money, and I'll give you these jewels.
  • Pretty in Mink: Sofia wears a couple, including a fox wrap dyed scarlet, and the maid wears a fur coat after she leaves to get married.
  • Punny Name: Snaps Provolone, especially since provolone is a well-known Italian cheese; this movie can be considered one of Sylvester Stallone's "cheesier" performances.
  • Really Gets Around: Lisa, according to the conversation between Snaps and Sofia:
    Sofia: I just came from Lisa's bedroom.
    Snaps: You and everybody else.
  • Running Gag: Snaps reminding his Mooks Connie and Aldo to stop calling him boss, followed by them accidentally saying "Yes, boss."
  • Sherlock Scan: Dr. Poole does a version of this with Anthony by guessing where he's from based off how he speaks. Before he says a word. This was not the first time they had met though.
  • Satchel Switcheroo: Anthony's satchel bag with $50,000 in jewelry, another satchel bag containing $50,000 in cash, and Nora's bag containing her lingerie.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: In the scene, where Angelo is looking for Anthony and asks his servants, Aldo tells him that Oscar fell in love with a girl but he couldn’t marry with her because his father is jerk. Snaps then asks "Oh, is that so?”, he fails to recognize he was only sarcastic and keeps explaining.
  • Screwball Comedy: The romance aspect of it is constantly battered around as at one point as everyone seems to reveal or find new love interests.
  • Secondary Character Title: Snaps Provolone is the main character. Oscar is a much less prominent character who, although his reported actions do significantly affect the plot, only appears in person in one scene.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Connie’s Sensitive Guy to Snaps and Aldo’s Manly Man.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Clue: "Damn, a double negative!"
    • When Snaps's accountant shows up at the door:
      Aldo: Well, well, well. If it isn't Little Anthony... and his Imperial.
    • A reference to Godfather's Pizza when Vendetti heads for Snaps's mansion and tells his secretary, "Order out for pizza".
  • A Simple Plan: There are several (Snaps plan to go straight, Anthony's plan to marry Theresa, Lisa's to fake she's pregnant etc.), which makes this a simple plan pileup.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Oscar, who Lisa falsely claims to be pregnant by (kicking off the plot) is only onscreen for less than a minute at the end.
  • Spoiled Brat: Lisa has been very indulged by her parents in the past and is prone to shouting in frustration about how they drive her crazy now.
  • The Stakeout: The cops spend most of the movie staking out Snaps' house, hoping for evidence of wrongdoing.
  • Stock Clock Hand Hang: The movie poster has Snaps hang from the hands of a large clock, referring to the day's mounting insanity.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Sometimes Angelo seriously has this feeling. After finding out that Connie fails to guard the bag with the jewels, he lampshades It.
    Snaps: Keep her (Theresa) on ice. I’m lookin’ for somethin’n.
    Aldo: What?
    Snaps: A bag just like this one.
    Aldo: Ah, don’t worry about that. I gave it back to Underwood’s chauffeur.
    Snaps: You did what?
    Aldo: It was sittin in the library before, so I switched the bags for ya.
    Snaps: And where was Einstein?
    Aldo: Was Connie in here? Connie, was you in here? I didn’t see him.
    Snaps: Why don’t you stand over there next to your girlfriend?
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Connie's loads of weapons that he has in his clothes. Among many other things, his arsenal includes revolvers, knives, brass knuckles, a knife with a brass-knuckled handle, poison, a meathook, a flail, and a ticking bundle of dynamite.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Lieutenant Toomey is humiliated for his attempts to arrest Snaps in front of reporters during his mysterious meeting with men who turn out to be prominent bankers. But he does get to be the hero by arresting several prominent gangsters who tried to kill Snap in front of those same reporters.
  • Verbal Tic: Vendetti's informant "Five-Spot" Charlie, who stutters like Porky Pig, and has a lisp similar to Gopher from the animated version of Winnie the Pooh, or Floyd the Barber from The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Video Credits
  • Whole Costume Reference: Lisa's Fairytale Wedding Dress is a copy of the dress from It Happened One Night.