The In-Laws (1979) Poster


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msl-d11 June 2003
This is one of the funniest and most underrated movies ever made. Just when you think it's about to slow down and become a normal movie, it veers in a whole other, even crazier (and arguably funnier) direction than you could have ever hoped for. With brilliant performances by Peter Falk, Alan Arkin, and Richard Libertini (who has one of the film's best lines: "These are the best security men in the world. They used to work for J.C. Penney"), this is a must see for any fan of true film comedy.
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One of my all time favorite comedies!
cwillis_m19 June 2003
I'm a big Peter Falk fan, so I watched this movie because he was in it. I was in for quite a surprise. It has quickly become one of my favorite comedies of all. Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are a perfect pair. The great thing about this movie is that it seems to invent itself as it goes along. The movie isn't following any type of formula, it's making itself up as it goes along, or so it seems. Very funny. My rating: 10
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great comedy team arkin and falk
jackpurvin23 May 2003
peter faulk and alan arkin make a great comedy,team, because they counterbalance each other. With a great script and a very funny adjoining cast of characters, arkin and falk takes us to a various locales and absurd locations to show a great talent of comedic timing between the two of them one being a dentist and the other, a character of enigmatic qualities. Have to see this one.
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A classic of American comedy.
reverendjay30 June 2004
This is truly one of the most under-appreciated comedies of all time. Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are magnificent. It was shamed by the abhorrent re-make/re-visit of 2003. Don't judge this original by that pathetic after birth. Two scenes stand out as 'need to see.' The first meeting between Falk and Arkin and the subsequent dinner has many a classic line, 'Beaks? The flies had beaks?' and 'There's tremendous red-tape in the bush.' The landing in Tihara and the car chase that follows including the famous 'Serpentine!' sequence makes me laugh out loud with every viewing. 'They make a chicken sandwich. They heat it up, serve it on a hard roll, with orange juice or pineapple juice, y'know grande, a big one. And coffee. Espresso with that wonderful foam. Oh Jesus Pigs!'

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, treat yourself to this classic. If you like Monty Python, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and the like, you will absolutely enjoy The In Laws.
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One of the funniest films ever made
markwat27 December 2000
This may be one the most underrated comedies ever made. This movie has made me laugh out loud each of the many times I have seen it. One of the things that makes it really special, however, is that this would be a good movie even if it never had a funny line. The reason is that it is simply a great story. The plot is full of twists and turns, and leaves you surprised at the end. This alone would make this movie a "7." Add the numerous laughs, and this movie becomes an undenible "10."
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One of the funniest films ever made.
longislandjoe29 May 2006
This movie is absolutely hysterical. And I do not mean very funny. I mean it is hysterical.

The plot is that a CIA operative and a dentist, played superbly and respectively by Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, are about to become in-laws because their two children are to be married. But Falk, about to retire from his clandestine duties, needs Arkin's help to pull off one final mission. From beginning to end the antics of these two will leave you in side-splitting humor. And the performance by Richard Libertini as a South American dictator is equal to Falk and Arkin's contribution to this classic comedy.

If you want to see an intelligent and realistic film that is extremely funny from start to finish then this is it. Don't miss it!
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delightfully farcical romp!
Robert D. Ruplenas30 June 1999
This truly hilarious comedy is one of the funniest movies of the period. No one does the sort of deadpan face that says "I can't believe what I'm hearing and seeing" like Alan Arkin. Peter Falk's comic abilities match his skill in heavier roles. The interplay between them is marvelous, matching that of Lemmon & Matthau (one wishes they had made more films together). Many side-splitting moments, and some superbly comic dialogue. Not to be missed.

Serpentine, Shel, serpentine!!!
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Screwball comedy is loaded with options
Bill Slocum28 July 2003
Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are an absolutely killer combination in this over-the-top comedy. The writer who helped pen "Blazing Saddles," Andrew Bergman, is back in a solo effort this time that downplays the profanity and adult situations of that earlier classic for a family-friendly outing that loses none of its bite or wit.

For me, this film carries the same buttoned-down lunacy of a great Bob and Ray routine, only sustained for 90 minutes, with hardly a sagging line or note. Get through the first five minutes, a fairly routine armored car robbery and a protracted stairwell run, and you will not be sorry, because the rest of "The In-Laws" is so funny, it will take you three or four eager viewings before you appreciate just how brilliant beyond belief it is. At least that's what happened with me.

It's a strangely genial film, its approach personified in Peter Falk's "friend of the world" interpretation of Vince Ricardo. There's nothing that phases him, or is too minute to warrant some breezily cheery comment, like "Is this coffee freeze-dried? It's very good." Or "The benefits [for belonging to the CIA] are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That's the whole key to the benefits package."

Ricardo's approach is exemplified in an apron he is seen wearing at a barbeque: "I'm loaded with options." That he is, and screenwriter Bergman, too. In a somewhat desultory but still necessary DVD commentary for "In-Laws" fanatics like me, it is revealed by Bergman and director Arthur Hiller reveal the key moment for the screenplay is a fairly straight and jokeless scene between Alan Arkin's Dr. Kornpett and his daughter, where she urges him not to reject Ricardo because of his subliminated sexual jealousy about losing his daughter to Ricardo's son in marriage. Okay, maybe that does read funny, but it doesn't come across as funny.

The way the scene works, once the hapless dentist hears this, he is screwed. He has to help out Ricardo, in an inane flight from the government into the arms of the only Latin American dictator who's national flag features a topless woman, and whose apparent deputy is a Senor Wences hand puppet. You just follow along the same way Dr. Kornpett does, never knowing what to expect next, and, unlike him, enjoying it all the way through.

This film isn't laughs for everyone. Senator Jesus Braunsweiger's next-of-kin and BMW enthusiasts will find plenty to mourn. But for everyone else seeing it for the first time, it will be a joy forever, and a bit of a puzzlement: Why isn't this comedy better-known? Why don't people quote it as readily as "Caddyshack," "The Blues Brothers" or other lesser, contemporary fare?

One last thing: Alan Arkin's performance is maybe the best thing in the movie. I only realized this after repeat viewings. He's not the funniest comic actor around, frankly I never found his stuff that good in the other films of his I've seen, but here he makes the thing work. I wanted to say something about this containing the best straight-man work since Bud Abbott, but the more I see it, the less I'm sure who's the straight man. So many of the great lines are his: "There are flames on my car." "Flies with beaks?" "A Zee? A Zee?" "What flow? There isn't any flow." And to think his first line in the movie is a complaint about the viscosity of his dental bibs.

Just shut me up and go see it already. Or see it again. There's worse things you could do with your time, and not much better.
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Agua fria, agua fria!!
ejr-411 June 2003
Watched it again this weekend and laughed as hard - no, harder - than the previous 20 viewings! What is it about this movie? It gets FUNNIER every time. Oh sure, everyone comments here about the biggest laugh: Serpentine! Arguably one of the funniest in film history. But there are SO MANY great lines and moments: "There's no reason to shoot at me, I'm a dentist!" "Left turn at The General Garcia Toll's a fitting tribute general...yes, much better than a statue." "We have no blindfolds senor, we are a poor country." Vince: "from here on in it's very cut and dry." Shelley: "it's not cut. it's not dry." How about Shelley's expression as the general pours cold water into his own hand to calm down his agitated friend? And the airline safety instructions delivered by Billy (or is it Bing?) in Chinese. IT JUST GOES ON AND ON! Tell everyone you know, don't go see the remake - rent the original!
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Director Arthur Hiller presses all the right buttons with this one
jonathon-37 January 1999
I've just seen this film for the third time - the first was in 1979 when it was in the cinemas, the second was in 1989, and last night - 1999. And each time I've loved it. Somehow it catches just the right note early on, and manages to maintain it right thru the film.

I think the character of Vince (Peter Falk) is the key. At the start of the film we are convinced that he is a loud-mouthed schmuck with criminal tendencies, embarrassing and unpleasant to be around. This image slowly begins to crack, and although his behavior doesn't change one iota from start to finish, our perception of him does. So much so that by the close of the film we come to see him as a man of heroic qualities, gracious, and modest to boot. It's a very clever transformation and it's achieved via a plot that spirals hilariously out of control at dazzling speeds.

And of course the other joy of the film is the unlikely relationship which develops under fire between the zany CIA operative Falk and Alan Arkin as the dull but respectable dentist.
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Three Cheers For the Guacamole Act of 1917!!!
theowinthrop13 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The premise of this film is really simple: if two families are about to enjoy the union of their children in a marriage, is it not likely that the in-laws involved can come to depend and help each other out in times of need? Most of us would probably say no, or want to know the extent of the help. However, when Vincent J. Ricardo (Peter Falk) asks Dr. Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin) to assist him in retrieving something from a safe in Ricardo's office, Kornpett is willing (if somewhat suspiciously) to do it.

The reason that Kornpett is suspicious is he is not quite certain what to make of Ricardo. They only met at Kornpett's house the night before, for a dinner party introducing the families of the bride (Kornpett's) and groom (Ricardo's) to each other. Ricardo acted...well oddly. He told tales of his business travels in Central America, including how in one country babies are being carried off by huge bats that are protected by the Guacamole Act of 1917. Kornpett hears this with a blank face, although his eyes do bug out a little in disbelief. Later, when Ricardo gets testy with his son over a comment about the former not being home enough, Kornpett can't believe the near rage that Ricardo demonstrates at the table. So his suspicions about his future in-law seem well based.

Shortly, after being chased and nearly killed by two men who are after the items that Kornpett picked up, the suspicions seem confirmed. Ricardo explains to him, over pea soup in a restaurant, that he actually is not a successful salesman but a C.I.A. operative (a photo in Ricardo's office confirms this: it is of President Kennedy, and the autograph refers to the Bay of Pigs Invasion). He is in the middle of a critically important mission in Latin America dealing with international finance and a conspiracy against the richest nations. Kornpett hears him out, and is upset to hear that there is more material that Ricardo hid in Kornpett's home the night before. He wants no part of it, and leaves to go home - only to find the police there. He flees, and does evade capture - at the cost of having his car repainted in a way he never would have wanted it to look.

Soon Kornpett is forced to join forces with Ricardo, and enters the deadly serious but (here) quite farcical world of international espionage and intrigue. At the end of the road is the ringleader of the conspiracy, General Garcia (Richard Libertini) who has a special little friend that makes Al Pacino's little friend in SCARFACE lethal but sensible in comparison.

THE IN-LAWS is funny. Arkin with his tight-ass repressive personality works well against the free-wheeling, anything goes Falk. Libertini appears only in the films last twenty minutes, but he does equally nicely as the ultimate in screw-ball dictators. Well supported by a cast including Nancy Dussault, Arlene Golonka, Penny Peyser, Michael Lembeck, and Ed Begley Jr. the film is just a laugh fest until the happy ending. As mentioned elsewhere in these comments Arkin and Falk should have made several films together. They have only done one other movie together since THE IN-LAWS. Pity.
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This movie was worth waiting to see for years!
Brian T. Whitlock (GOWBTW)20 September 2003
I've seen this movie and I think it's great! The previews have been stuck in my head for ages. Since the age of 5, I would try to picture the streets of New York in the back of my mind. And I picture the streets very well. This movie is a lot of fun, I liked the banana scene, I also loved the all the other scenes as well. The escape scene where the hapless dentist got the engraving plates from the office. And I liked the part where Peter Falk's character shoots Paul L. Smith in the arm. At least he lives. Though Falk's character hasn't been home for a while, he got a chance to see "The Price is Right" , it's one of my favorite game show of all times. Thae cute scene in the movie was the hand puppet of the leader of the country the duo were in. There is more I could say about the movie is when the two feuding in-laws got to the wedding on time in a seated parachute, and what more could you want from a movie like that. Be part of the family in which the in-law feeds on danger. The In-Laws is a true classic to the collector. 10+!
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Fairly funny
jeremy315 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have not seen the remake, and refuse to. I don't think that the remake could quite capture the magic that Peter Falk and Alan Arkin provide. This movie is a political satire. It spoofs the whole spy business and Latin American dictators. Falk carries the film as a seemingly weird CIA agent. Arkin is a neurotic dentist unwittingly placed in the spy game by his seemingly crazy in-law. The movie has plenty of laughs, and can be seen repeated with the laughs still being funny. The plot is a bit winding and confusing, but it is a comedy after all. Basically, the movie is carried by two great personalities -Falk and Arkin.
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How Could Yor Forget "Oops. Pigs"?
Samantha-Kimmel25 April 2007
This film began the series, continued when Danny DiVito says "Ooops. Cows." The homage of "Oops. Some creature", always makes me laugh. The interjection into a chase scene of two frames of a pig, or a cow or whatever, which began in The "In-Laws", even makes "No Soap. Radio" amusing, but only in relation. Yes, yes, yes, the funnest American film of the last fifty years, bar none. Some are as funny as, but none are funnier. And the Godless creatures who did the re-make should be ashamed for the rest of their lives. After the original nothing else will ever be quite as good. But the remake was just AWFUL! I still pause and re-wind on ""Ooops. Pigs." I would rather have dental work than watch the remake.

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Still funny throughout
caa82125 April 2007
This was an outstanding comedy when released nearly 30 years ago. Seen again now, it is just as enjoyable, and with the added feature of being a period piece of its times.

Although exaggerated for humor, the small dictatorship where much of the film occurs was much more like the banana republics, which were more a part of Central America and the Caribbean during this era, than one might assume today.

Falk and Arkin were absolutely outstanding as a comedy duo, and one wishes that perhaps they had been coupled in other work as well.

Unlike most other films - even among the best - this picture had no slow or dull parts. The entire period on-screen was a continually interesting and humorous presentation.

I liked the "re-make" of this film better than most seemed to, perhaps because of liking Michael Douglas' and Albert Brooks' work so much. But it was re-made in name only, and like most fell short of its predecessor (Martin and Hawn in "The Out-of-Towners" is an even better example).

Catch this film when possible, not only for its humor, per se, but as a fine piece of nostalgia.
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Falk and Arkin make splendid comedy team
MartianOctocretr525 September 2006
Alan Arkin and Peter Falk made a great comic duo in this classic comedy. Each one bounces off the other in excellently timed humor.

The story is wild and off the wall. Peter Falk's secret agent guy is too, and he has you and co-star Alan Arkin guessing whether he is a legitimate government agent, or some kind of schizophrenic maniac. The two are the respective dads of two soon to be wed kids, and their shenanigans take precedence over their offspring and the upcoming nuptials. Arkin's straight-laced everyman who rapidly waxes panicky, then neurotic due to being suddenly cast in the bizarre world of Falk makes for brilliantly hilarious contrast between the two.

Needless to say, Falk is on a case and gets Arkin inexorably caught up in the situation, which soon degenerates into a wild romp with loud explosions, shootings, and other confusion. The "Serpentine!" routine is a classic of riotous buffoonery.

Falk and Arkin understand comedy, and manipulate it well. Their comic chemistry is worthy of comparison to some of the classic duos over the years, as they ping-pong the lunacy back and forth with expert timing and delivery. This original is far better than its recent remake, and is recommended.
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Lee Eisenberg10 September 2006
There have been many comedies focusing on weddings, but "The In-Laws" may have brought the genre to its panacea. Featuring Alan Arkin (as the bride's father) and Peter Falk (as the groom's father) going on a series of crazy adventures right before the wedding, the whole thing's a laugh a minute. It just makes one happy that cinematic humor in the '70s shifted to the completely loony, and Arkin and Falk make a great comic team. I would imagine that everyone had a lot of fun on the set. Featuring Ed Begley Jr. and David Paymer in his debut. There was a remake, but I heard that it was pathetic. So stick with this one and you'll have a really good time.
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Falk and Arkin work great together
Petri Pelkonen25 August 2006
Dentist Sheldon S. Kornpett's (Arkin) daughter Barbara (Penny Peyser) is getting married to Tommy Ricardo (Michael Lembeck).Sheldon finally gets to meet the groom's father, Vincent J. Ricardo (Peter Falk).It is found out that Vincent works for the CIA and gets Sheldon in all sorts of troubles.He almost gets shot many times and eventually finds himself from Tijada, Honduras.Arthur Hiller's The In-Laws (1979) is an action comedy that's really well written.It also works so good due to great team work of the two main actors.Peter Falk, 78, and Alan Arkin, 70, have more chemistry between each other than in a chemistry factory.Falk, who takes me to my childhood with his Columbo character, gives a great performance here as the wacky government agent.Arkin is very funny with his "Don't shoot the dentist" routine.They're both very funny and they share some incredible amount of energy as does the whole movie.There's also Richard Libertini as the stark raving mad General Garcia, Ed Begley Jr. as the CIA guy Lutz, James Hong as Bing Wong and so on.Every single actor is incredible in the movie.This is a movie that will make you laugh.If it doesn't, seek help.
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This movie is actually funny!
john-24835 February 2006
Unlike contemporary comedies which focus on sexual innuendo and subtle sarcastic wit, this movie uses core personality and character decisions to put two unlikely partners into hilarious situations and choices. This movie is actually funny! The insanity continues throughout, until the unlikely climax. Falk is characteristically a combination of accidental competence and possible insanity. Arkin is great as the unwitting accomplice. The plot gets crazier as it goes along, shifting locations and perspectives. You never know who's really working with whom (at least I didn't). We laughed and laughed mostly in sympathy for the NY Dentist.
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Serpentine Shelly! Serpentine!!
Mike-29919 August 1998
This is quite simply one of the funniest movies ever made. The interplay between Shelly, Vince, General Garcia, and really all the characters is priceless. The film is really cast perfectly. Alan Arkin seems born to play Sheldon Cornpett (Shelly, I call him.) And Peter Falk seems to be having the time of his life as Vince. Who better to play General Garcia than Richard Libertini? Of course you have to overlook huge bits of logic to really ejoy this film (How can the family have voted for Vince to retire from the CIA when only an hour or so before they didn't know he was in the CIA?) But the look on Shelly's face when he realizes that they had scammed $5 million each is maybe my favorite moment in a movie I've seen (conservatively) 40 times.
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Perhaps 34 years ago was funny
avgalia5 July 2013
I do not want to be too harsh because perhaps when this movie was filmed some scenes that are too familiar in today's American movies were somehow original, but even so I believe that by 1979 it was quite common to see American movies with cars chasing each other and so on. But leaving that aside, it is quite difficult to swallow that an educated dentist would accept leaving his office in the middle of an intervention to make a favour to a guy that he hardly knew. And this is how all begins. So, the script has an original sin... Nevertheless, there are some good gags and a very good performance by Alan Arkin. And of course, the usual display of utter ignorance of Americans about the culture of the other American countries. For instance to make the Hondureans speak Spanish as if they were Mexicans.
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Excellent movie to watch
sarah ash19 February 2005
This is, as you have read in other reviews, a great movie. My reason for writing this review is not to review the movie, you can read that in other reviews, but to let you know that the DVD is so much better than the VHS (I bought the VHS copy a couple of months before the DVD was available for pre-order, because I didn't think it would be coming out on DVD). That said, the banter between the Peter Falk and Alan Arkin is really great, and at some point, you will find yourself quoting parts of the movie. My wife, who does not like "these kinds of movies" laughed throughout the entire film. Anyway, get the DVD and give the VHS away, that's what I did.
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A funny movie in the old Woody Allen genre of Bananas
dimplet12 August 2012
The In Laws could use some improvement. The secondary dialog could have been clever and interesting, but instead seems like filler. And the secondary acting is merely adequate.

What makes The In Laws worth watching is the interaction between Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, two great actors. It is the yin and the yang, the hot and the cool. And when you listen to them, particularly early on, it seems like improv. They really are reacting to each other.

The plot is a bit contrived, and makes little pretense of realism after awhile. But it works. You really don't know what, exactly, Falk is doing, and which side he is on, or even whether he is just crazy. That is fundamental to the movie.

Once they arrive in South America the roots of the movie become clear. This is a revamping of ideas from Woody Allen's Bananas - 1971, particularly the crazy dictator, and the American accidentally caught up in Banana Republic politics. Then the style of The Inlaws makes sense: the lightweight acting, the silliness and absurdity. It is a genre where the bar is set fairly low, but not as low as some of the so-called comedies that followed.

My favorite part, aside from the banter between Falk and Arkin, is the bit where James Hong gives a one-on-one "flight attendant" spiel to Arkin in Chinese.

Of course, Richard Libertini is great as the cracked general.
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Funnier each time
hatchersan4 February 2007
I agree. Saw this originally in Twin Cities when it debuted in 1979 and can't get enough of it. Great all around comedy, writing, timing, slap stick, parodies (Cavalry to the rescue, hundreds of cops in Mafia type suits attacking the bull ring, also akin to the final shootout in Butch Cassidy and Sundance, the chase car slipping and sliding on banana peels).

"Flames. I have flames on my BMW!" "I thought you came down to buy a magazine." "I did but all they had was Hustler, in Spanish, Hustlero!" And Sheldon -- Alan Arkin -- running down the street in Manhattan with the briefcase in hand being fired at by the unknown spy --"Oh, God, don't let me die on West 34th Street!" or something to that effect. Then dodging around the taxi cab as the spy shoots at him, while Peter Falk casually sips his cup of instant coffee in the coffee shop watching the cat and mouse game around the taxi cab. Priceless.
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One Of My Favorites, Watch Out For The Giant Flies!
Ralph15 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the In Laws in the theaters and was with others who were older and I think I was the only one who really really enjoyed it, I thought it was just the funniest movie I could have seen! It's just so screw ball and the dialog is delivered extremely dead-pan and if you can follow that kind of humor you will love it! I played it for my family recently and I was the only one laughing, oh well (though when Arkin is running through the streets of NY they were rolling for that one). I guess it's not for everyone, I think it was because they don't think old movies can be funny, or maybe because there was so much to laugh at it just got numbing. Falk is priceless here with his outrageous stories and Arkin acting as the sane one who ends up involved in the madness that is true that he finally buy's into it then it's getting really funny (no those are real bullets, Shelly!). Is that pea soup good?...(Faulk asking Arkin after he's been shot at multiple times), just totally dead-pan funny stuff! I loved this movie so much that I actually loved Big Trouble, hell I'd probably be entertained watching Faulk take a dump! I give it a definite 10/10, I can't watch the remake because it's like a sacrilege, I loved this movie so much. Shelly looking at VELVET gallery of the evil General:"My General, those are beautiful paintings, who is she?" General:"Oh, she's some hooker in the village." Classic.
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