Monday, April 14, 2008

School for Scoundrels

This is not the 2006 movie starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder. All you have to know about that movie is that its DVD coms in an "Unrated Ballbuster Edition". That's what we've come to, apparently. "Now with more football in the groin". Gah. The very first IMDB plot keyword for that movie is "Hit in crotch". Pure class.

No, the movie I'm talking about is from 1950 and stars Alastair Sim, Terry-Thomas and Ian Carmichael. It's based on Stephen Potters books Gamesmanship, Lifemanship, and Woomanship. They're incredibly cynical (and funny) books on how to, in the words of Gamesmanship, "win at games without actually cheating". In the movie, Ian Carmichael spends a half hour being a loser, then gets some instruction. The flavor can be conveyed with this portion of a speech by Alastair Sim (plaing "Professor S. Potter"):

"I can see the question in your eyes. You want to know what is Lifemanship. Well, gentlemen, Lifemanship is the science of being one-up on your opponents at all times. It is the art of making him feel that somewhere, somehow, he has become less than you. Less desirable, less worthy...less blessed. Who then, you ask, are your opponents? Everybody, in a word, who is not you. And the purpose of your life must be to be one-up them because, and mark this well, he who is not one-up is one-down."

After learning the ploys for distracting and annoying people, Carmichael spends an hour destroying Terry-Thomas and everyone else in his path and it is most amusing. Frankly, I do not understand how they managed to remake this movie into something to which the word "ballbuster" could be applied.

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