Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lemonade Joe

Limonádový Joe aneb Koňská opera; western parody, Czech Republic, 1964; D: Oldřich Lipský, S: Karel Fiala, Rudolf Deyl, Jr., Miloš Kopecký, Květa Fialová, Olga Schoberová

In a small Wild West town, every inhabitant is drinking whisky, provided by the only Saloon in town, owned by Doug Badman. This causes fighting and chaos. However, a new cowboy is in town, Lemonade Joe, the fastest gun drawer around who brings order and stops the crime wave by persuading people to stop drinking whisky - in order to instead drink his lemonade provided by his company Kolaloka. He is adored by Evangelist Winnifred Goodman, but when he declines an offer by prostitute Lou, she teams up with Doug and his evil brother Hogofogo who want to kill him in order to continue with their whisky business. Everyone is shot, but the lemonade brings them back to life and they team up, creating a new drink, Whiskola.

In the 50s and 60s, the western genre built such a wave of popularity that it spread even outside the American borders, and gripped even countries which had no connection with the US history at all, most notable with hundreds of Italian 'spaghetti-westerns' from that era. Among the films that were even stranger than that trend was "Lemonade Joe", a peculiar "Czech-western" in which the famous comic director Oldrich Lipsky used the genre only as a giant parody of itself, demolishing its cliches - most notably of a hero cowboy who cleans up the town from crime, but not for free, since he is only there to promote his lemonade among the town's people - and crafting a crazy, daft fun, all filmed appropriately in "yellowish" color. Just like in many of Lipsky's film, the jokes are totally surreal and often very funny: the villiain is called 'Doug Badman' and looks at the cards of players behind their back, uses smoke from his cigar to conjure up numbers "8888" and thus gives a signal to his brother, Hogopogo, who is playing poker at the table; when Lemonade Joe first enters the Saloon, he shows how cool he is by shooting a fly with his gun, and proclaiming: "The law is coming with me!"; the classic joke of an undertaker smiling happily because there are a lot of corpses of outlaws on the streets; Hogopogo and Joe cannot hurt each other because each time they shoot, their two bullets hit each other and stop midway... Several points could be made that the storyline is also a satire on agressive marketing campaigns that too often use a myth (cowboy Joe) as a tool for product placement, and even though the second half is a lot weaker and runs out of steam, accompanied by too much singing, "Lemonade Joe" still works as a cult film 'out-of-the-box', whereas the two charming supporting actresses - Kveta Fialova and Olga Schoverova - are a small jewel in the cast.


1 comment:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Reminded Lemonade Joe showed up in this documentary...