This weekend as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost embark on an epic pub crawl in The World’s End, they are continuing a Hollywood tradition of raising a glass in the movies.
“Tonight, we will be partaking of a liquid,” says Gary King (Pegg), “although we may return with a twinkle in our eyes, we will be in truth blind… drunk.”
Pegg and pals add a sci fi twist to their story, but at its heart it’s a boozy comedy.
W.C. Fields pioneered drinking on film. During his 1930s heyday he made a name for himself with snappy one-liners like, “A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.”
He liked a cocktail off screen as well. On set he had an ever-present vacuum flask of mixed martinis he referred to as his “pineapple juice.” While shooting a movie in 1942 a jokester replaced his gin with real pineapple juice. After his first sip Fields shrieked, “Who put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?”
My Favorite Year, the 1982 Peter O’Toole comedy, was a fictional story based on a real life actor with a legendary taste for alcohol. O’Toole, a hellraiser who once went for a drink in Paris and woke up in Corsica days later, plays a character based on Errol Flynn’s appearance on Sid Caesar’s television program Your Show of Shows. Premiere Magazine ranked the performance number 56 on their 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time list.
More recently Beerfest celebrated ale quaffing in a story based on the von Wolfhausen family tradition of spreading relatives’ ashes on the official ground of the Munich Oktoberfest.
This down and dirty ode to drinking beer stars the members of Broken Lizard—the comedy troupe that gave us Super Troopers and Club Dread—and only has a 41% rating at Rotten Tomatoes but is worth a look if only to see someone drink their way out of a vat of lager.
In Barfly Mickey Rourke plays Henry Chinaski, an alcoholic writer and alter ego to real life poet and “crown prince of self-abuse” Charles Bukowski. “Anybody can be a non-drunk,” he slurs. “It takes a special talent to be a drunk. It takes endurance.” He was so convincing in his portrayal that when Bukowski died The New York Post ran a picture of Rourke from Barfly rather than a photo of the poet.