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Film / The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film

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The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film is a 1959 short film co-directed by Richard Lester and Peter Sellers. The cast included Lester, Sellers, and Sellers's partner from The Goon Show, Spike Milligan, who also co-wrote the script.

Sellers, who was branching out from The Goon Show with parts in television and moviesnote  , came up with the idea to make his own short film. The film was shot over two consecutive Sundays and edited by Sellers and Lester in Sellers' house. It has no story but is a series of surreal comic short pieces featuring a group of wacky characters running around in a field and doing silly things.

Although it was originally made basically on a lark, it was entered in film festivals and won awards, and proved surprisingly influential. The "wacky goofballs in a field" look bears obvious similarities to the later Monty Python's Flying Circus. Also, this film made Richard Lester known to The BeatlesJohn Lennon saw it—and got Lester the job of directing The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night. Two members of the supporting cast of The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, Norman Rossington and Leo McKern, went on to appear in the Beatles films directed by Lester.

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Tropes:

  • Animal Reaction Shot: There's a brief glimpse of a cow stoically watching the surreal goings-on.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The violinist who puts his sheet music up on a stand a good fifty yards away, requiring him to use a telescope to read the sheet music.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: Parodied. After the hunter angers the athlete by shooting the athlete's shot put out of the sky, a duel is arranged. The judge of the duel gives the athlete a knife instead of a gun. The athlete plays along, though, and they both march off, turning at the signal in proper dueling style and shooting—the judge. And somehow the athlete's knife fired like a gun. The athlete looks at his smoking knife in astonishment.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: Just a collection of surreal humor and gags, much like The Goon Show.
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  • Overly-Long Gag: The last joke takes a full minute. A left hand in the camera's extreme foreground gestures for a man far away on the horizon to approach. The man, who turns out to be the man tangled up in the ruined kite, approaches hesitantly, only for the hand in the foreground to beckon him on several times. Finally the man makes it to the camera's foreground. Then the other man's right hand, clad in a boxing glove, comes into frame and punches the kite man in the face.
  • Silence Is Golden: No doubt because Sellers and company only spent £70, and sound recording costs money.
  • Surreal Humor: One of the first shots is of a woman (actually Sellers in drag) scrubbing the floor—except she's actually scrubbing a grassy field. Then there's the man (Milligan) who puts a record on a tree stump, places a phonograph needle on the record, and runs around in a circle to play the musicnote .
  • Too Dumb to Live: The multi-person kite-launching crew runs out at the end of a very long string, while another guy stands inside the kite's box. It all goes about as well as you might expect.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: Usually when this happens, neither duellist is using a knife, and usually, they don't shoot the judge.

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