Author Topic: Thank God It Was Only A Dream  (Read 482 times)

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Offline stethacantus

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Thank God It Was Only A Dream
« on: June 15, 2013, 08:31:56 PM »

One of the oldest cliches in movie history is when a character is having a particularly bad day, then when things really get bad the character suddenly finds himself in bed, and realizes it was just a dream.  These differ from movies like Inception or The Cell where the characters know they are dreaming, or the Nightmare on Elm Street films where the characters die before they get a chance to wake up. This plot device is an epidemic on television where pretty much every scripted show has had at least one dream episode. But mostly the sitcoms. Gilligan's Island had no less than 16 dreams in three seasons. Perhaps the most notorious dreams from television were the half season of Married... With Children for all the episodes where Peggy is pregnant, an entire season of Dallas including random episodes of Knots Landing where Bobby Ewing was dead, and the entire series Newhart which turned out to be dreamt by Dr Robert Hartley.

I find this plot device to be an annoyance, and deplorable in cases where it was not previously established that the character had fallen asleep and we were watching a dream. ( Though I will give a pass to the movie Sherlock, Jr. because Keaton chose this plot device to explain a number of magic tricks and special effects he wanted to use in the film. ) But in any case, whenever a character wakes up and says "..it was just a dream..." it always makes me cringe. I always see it as a cheat from lazy writers who could not think of a proper way to end a film, or perhaps made the mistake of boxing their hero into a situation so dire that there was no other way out ( aside from a really dark ending to the film, which is only for directors with the guts to put such an ending on a film. )

Here is just a partial list of films that have used this plot device. Just the ones that I can remember at the moment.

Sherlock, Jr. ( 1924 ) Buster Keaton is a theater projectionist dreams that he is a character in the movie he is showing.

Seeing the World ( 1927 ) School teacher James Finlayson dreams he wins an all expense paid trip around the world, but his students, which happen to be The Little Rascals/Our Gang, tag along.

The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case ( 1931 ) Stan and Ollie end up in a creepy mansion where the relatives of the late Ebeneezer Laurel are being killed off one by one. It is not really clear if the dream was Laurel or Hardy's ( or perhaps a shared dream? )   

Oliver the Eighth ( 1934 ) Another Laurel & Hardy horror short where Oliver dreams that he is engaged to a millionairess and has been invited to spend the night in her mansion. He finds out she and her butler are insane, and she is a serial killer who murders men named Oliver.

Mama's Little Pirate ( 1934 ) Spanky dreams he and his friends find a cave full of pirate treasure, but is guarded by a giant.

Hollywood Party ( 1934 ) The real Jimmy Durante dreams that he is Schnarzan ( a parody of Tarzan ) who needs to buy fresh lions for his movies. So he throws a huge party just to meet lion wrangler Barron Munchhausen.

Our Gang Follies of 1938  Alfalfa dreams that he has a contract with Barnaby ( Henry Brandon reprising his role from Babes in Toyland ) to star in the opera The Barber of Seville, but bombs on stage, and under a clause in the contract is forced to sing in the streets as a beggar until he collects the money that Barnaby lost on the show.

The Wizard of Oz ( 1939 ) Dorthy dreams a tornado took her to Oz

Abbott & Costello In The Navy ( 1941 ) Sailor Costello dreams he is impersonating the captain to impress the Andrew Sisters, and nearly rams the ship into the rest of the fleet.

Jack and the Beanstalk ( 1952 ) Costello dreams that he is Jack.

Invasion U.S.A. ( 1952 ) A bunch of barflies dream that the communists have overthrown America. ( technically they were hypnotized into the dream by another creep in the bar, but I could not resist including any movie from MST3K )

Robot Monster ( 1953 ) A kid dreams a half ape half robot named Ro-Man has killed everyone on Earth but him and a handful of survivors.

Invaders From Mars ( 1953 ) Another kid dreams that the Martians have landed and are taking over his planet

Carrie ( 1976 ) Amy Irving dreams that while visiting her friend Carrie's grave, her corpse reaches up through the ground.

A Fist Full of Yen ( 1977 ) Martial artist Loo dreams that he was in a parody of Enter the Dragon. This was the feature film segment of Kentucky Fried Movie.

Phantasm ( 1979 ) Bill Thornbury dreams that a ghoul known as the tall man and a killer metal sphere is taking over the town.

Friday the 13th ( 1980 ) Adrienne King dreams that the body of a boy named Jason who drowned in the lake years earlier has come to life and tried to drag her off the boat.

Under the Rainbow ( 1981 ) A midget dreams that he was cast in the Wizard of Oz, and while in Hollywood gets tangled in a plot involving Nazi spies.
Time Bandits ( 1981 ) Craig Warnock dreams that six dwarves take him on an adventure through time to steal treasure.

Invaders From Mars ( 1986 ) Same thing as the 1953 version

Sirens ( 1994 ) Tara Fitzgerald dreams that while floating in a pond, three nude women ( Elle Macpherson, Portia De Rossi and Kate Fischer ) rise out of the water and begin to feel her up.