For lucky 13, and in honor of Beer Wars opening on Thursday, I thought I’d take a look back at beer moves that have come before. I’m a bit of a film buff, and it’s slim pickings, even including documentaries. Most are horrible, quite frankly, and I had a hard time coming up with ten I might actually watch again. Let me know if I left out one of your favorites, and why you like it. Anyway, here’s List #13:
Top 10 Beer Movies
|Young Einstein (1989) Anyone else remember when Yahoo Serious was touted as the next big thing from Australia? In this farce, Einstein is portrayed “as a young Outback clod who splits beer atoms and invents rock and roll.”
|In Heaven There Is No Beer? (1984) This won’t show up on most people’s list because it’s more about polkas — music I love — but also includes beer’s relationship to the polka. Watch the trailer, if you dare.
|Rhapsody in Brew (1933) This was a short shown in theaters, depicting an amazing display of music made with a beer bottle. It was one of Hal Roach’s Musical Comedy Shorts and was directed by Billy Gilbert.
|Beer Parade (1933) A Scrappy cartoon show in theaters before the film began, produced by Columbia Pictures. I can’t even imagine it being shown today. Uncle John’s Crazy Town has a write-up and more stills.
|Take This Job & Shove It (1981) Starring country singer Johnny Paycheck, who wrote the song the movie’s based on, the plot concerns a “hot-shot efficiency expert who returns to his hometown to streamline the local brewery.”
|What! No Beer? (1933) Not one of Buster Keaton’s best, here’s the plot. “An idea-a-minute barber talks his dim-bulb taxidermist buddy into investing in a defunct brewery. They intend to become beer barons by cashing in on the repeal of prohibition, but instead they attract the attention of bootlegging gangsters and the cops.”
|The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933) You knew there had to be a W.C. Fields movie on the list, and this one is chosen primarily for the title. The imdb summarizes it thusly: “Mr. Snavely, a Yukon prospector, lost his only son years ago to the temptations of the big city; now the prodigal Chester, released from prison, comes home to Ma and Pa. A parody of Yukon melodrama; includes the famous looking-out-the-door routine.” You can watch the whole thing on YouTube in two parts; here’s Part 1 and Part 2. But for more beer references, just watch anything he made.
|Smokey and the Bandit (1977) I have to confess this movie is a guilty pleasure. When I was younger I had something of a crush on Sally Fields, from her days as Gidget on television and in films like Heroes and the Bandit movies. This is cheeseball 70s at its finest; Burt Reynolds in his prime and Jackie Gleason at his smarmiest. It’s almost secondary that they’re transporting a truckload of Coors.
|The American Brew (2007) While flawed overall and badly so in a few places, it’s still one of the best looking documentaries on beer done so far, even with the A-B Here’s To Beer sponsorship.
|Strange Brew (1983) It’s easy to dismiss this film by Doug & Bob MacKenzie, the Great White North duo. They do battle with a powerful, megalomaniacal brewmaster over a case of beer. It manages to seem really dumb, while at the same time channeling Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the McKenzie Brothers taking the roles of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Here’s a nice comparison between the two. I still occasionally use the phrase, “beauty, eh.”
I could not in good conscience include Beer (1985), Beer (2006), Beer League, Beerfest or Happy Hour (1987). And I really didn’t care for American Beer, the road movie that came out in 2003, despite a number of the brewery visits being enjoyable.
There’s two cool films about individual craft breweries that were made recently, The Victory Brewing Experience from 2003 and The Stone Brewing Company, from last year.
And though I’ve never been a big Three Stooes fan, Beer Barrel Polecats has a relatively funny sequence of them trying to make beer. Here’s Part 1 and Part 2 from YouTube. In Part 1, they try making Panther Pilsner.
If I included television shows, Michael Jackson’s Beer Hunter would top the list. It’s the still the best thing on beer put on film or video, though I have high hopes for Jay Shevek’s forthcoming Beer Pioneers.
Let me know your favorites, and if you see any you know of that are missing from the list, please post a comment and I’ll add it.
Also, if you have any ideas for future Top 10 lists you’d like to see, drop me a line.