January 23 is National Pie Day. And what could be a better combination than eating pie and watching movies that celebrate the eternal transcendence of the baked delight that gives this unofficial holiday its name? And the great thing is that pie is supple enough to allow for the inclusion of a variety of movies that fit the occasion.
These movies are simply a baker’s dozen in a cauldron of sweet dishes that would make a worthy watch on National Pie Day. Although they can be watched on OTT platforms like couchtuner alternatives, it cannot give you a feeling of goosebumps and should be viewed only on television.
Quick, what’s the connection between Steven Spielberg’s masterful film about the country’s 16th President and National Pie Day? This is tough one unless you are one of the committed fanatics of the late, lamented and far too quickly canceled TV show “Pushing Daisies.” Lee Pace played a character on that show referred to by the narrator as the Pie Maker. Lee Pace also provides just one of the many brilliant performances supporting the sublime portrayal of “Lincoln” by Daniel Day-Lewis. The former Pie Maker quites a strong impression as uber-jerk Copperhead Fernando Wood.
Custard pie fights went from inventive gimmick to lovable ritual to hackneyed tradition pretty quickly in the movies. The latter was the case by the 1970s when “Bugsy Malone” tried to reinvent the 1930s gangster movie, the musical and the humor of pie fights all at once. The cast is entirely made up of kids in a homage to 1930s gangster films in which Tommy Guns firing a spray of bullets have been replaced by splurge guns that spray custard pie filling.
Okay, this one may be tougher than “Lincoln.” Where is the tie between “Dr. Strangelove” and National Pie Day? The conclusion of Stanley Kubrick’s entry for the funniest movie ever made shows the privileged all-male participants in the War Room discussing their plan to repopulate the world through a survival ratio of ten women for every man amid the fearful specter of a potential mineshaft gap between the Americans and Russians. The original ending is Kubrick’s entry for the most famous deleted scene yet to appear on a Bonus Disc: an all-out pie-fight in the War Room. The still images on display in this blog entry confirm that the pie fight is not just a Hollywood legend. Various theories have been forwarded as to why the sequence was replaced, ranging from the slapstick being out of step with the more serious tone of the rest of the movie to the actors having too much fun to keep the straight face necessary for the kind of satire Kubrick was aiming for to the sensitive issue of a pie-based assassination of the movie’s President in a film that had scheduled its first test screening on November 22, 1963.
The Great Race
The pie fight in “The Great Race” is long, involved, expensive, took five days to film and, ultimately, not as funny as it should be. The comedy of this more obvious choice for a National Pie Day movie marathon is an unintentional example of how the buildup to a punch line is often funnier than the punchline itself which is unsatisfyingly anticlimactic in this case.
The Battle of the Century
Almost as epic, but much funnier is a pie fight from a Laurel amp; Hardy movie that has served as inspiration for all movie pie fights to follow. “The Battle of the Century” was one of the first movies to team Laurel amp; Hardy and it is a silent short that is little on plot but huge on pie filling.