The Set of 400: #122 – My Favorite Harry Belafonte Musical

Today! Because I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that –

Beetlejuice (1988)

Directed by Tim Burton (x4)

Starring Alec Baldwin (x2), Geena Davis (x2), Michael Keaton (x8), Winona Ryder (x2), Catherine O’Hara (x4), Jeffrey Jones (x3), Sylvia Sidney (x2), Glenn Shadix (x3), Robert Goulet (x3), Dick Cavett, Susan Kellerman, Adelle Lutz, Tony Cox (x3)

What I’m always surprised by when watching Beetlejuice nowadays is how long it takes to get to Beetlejuice himself. Like, it’s nearly an hour into things when he finally shows up, and how much of the movie is he even in? Like twenty minutes? Did the cartoon really warp memories of this movie so much that I think of the film as the Beetle-and-Lydia show, even though they share no happy times together?

One of the oldest ticket stubs I have (I’ve got basically every movie stub since ’87, fools!), Beetlejuice thrilled nine-year-old me to no end. I doubt I knew at the time that this was the director of another young Joe favorite, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and certainly wasn’t aware that this creative team was deep in pre-production making the transformative movie of my young life – Batman. Allegedly, it was Beetlejuice‘s box office success that got Burton’s Batman greenlit for definite, after years of it bouncing between screenwriters and directors. So thanks, Ghost with the Most!

Our hero!

Clearly not aimed at children – despite it’s PG rating! – Beetlejuice nonetheless was a huge deal in my movie watching. A wonderfully dark comedy, with this well-realized netherworld setting just adjacent to reality, replete with ghosts and suicides and sand worms, foreshadowed loads of Burton films to come, from A Nightmare Before Christmas to Edward Scissorhands to Sleepy Hollow and so on. I mention Batman so much because, as much as I enjoyed Beetlejuice initially, this combination of films may have been the first time I recognized a singular director whose work I enjoyed. Even though I’d seen loads of Spielberg films by this point, I was more an Indiana Jones fan than anything else, or I was a Star Wars fan (and Lucas had only directed the first movie there). To again return to the days of physical movie guides, Maltin and others only listed some cast members and the director (much like these posts), so this was my primary informational exposure to movies. Thus, as I got deeper into this end of things, directors starting gaining importance, so the fact that within 15 months Burton made Beetlejuice and Batman signaled for me that this was someone whose work I really enjoyed and wanted to follow. Despite their vast differences – with Batman being barely a Burton movie at all – they are basically two sides of the same coin for me.

Threats continue to emanate that we’re going to get a sequel to this one of these days, because as we all know, sequels some 30+ years down the road are never disappointing. Hell, by March of 2020 we may even have this movie, right? Is Beetlejuice 2: It’s Showtime! in release right now? I’m doubting it, considering how long this has been bandied about, but one of these days they may put the goddamn thing together. Folks, we don’t need another Beetlejuice. What more do you want to see from that story? We don’t need another Ghostbusters either, but I’m guessing that’s only a few months away as you read this too. We also don’t need more Terminator movies! Or Alien movies! Or Coming to America 2! After a point it’s just ridiculous! Remake them if you must, but stop with these way down the road sequels. They’re all pretty bad. This goes for TV shows getting the original casts back together as well. Stop. It seemed cool at first, but they all suck, like super hard.


Burton’s fourth go-around on the list makes him the eighth director to achieve this feat, following appearances with #371 Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, #310 Mars Attacks!, and #205 Batman Returns, while Michael Keaton has now tied RDJ and John Candy for most list appearances so far with eight! #185 Multiplicity, #172 Out of Sight, #152 Toy Story 3, #131 Jackie Brown, #393 The Dream Team, Batman Returns, #282 Johnny Dangerously, and now Beetlejuice! I would not have guessed when this started that Keaton had the numbers to contend this late in the game! Does he have enough films left to reach the mountaintop? Stay tuned!

Maybe someday Tom Holland will be in list league with his Spider-man: Homecoming co-stars

Coming tomorrow! It’s amazing how fast you get used to such a big place. I tell you, when we first came up here I thought it was kinda scary –

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One response to “The Set of 400: #122 – My Favorite Harry Belafonte Musical

  1. Pingback: The Set of 400: #123 – My Favorite Nervous Jell-O | Knowingly Undersold

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