Somewhat sarcastic warning: If you’re one of the four people on Earth that isn’t aware of The Crying Game or the secret embedded within, Mayor Quimby will totally spoil it for you. As well, Homer spoils The Empire Strikes Back.
My fandom for The Simpsons hasn’t waned once over the past 24 years, even as the quality has dipped, because taken out of context, every single episode is a trove of references, sight gags and satire. That said, I agree with the rest of the world that the show was never better than in the first seven seasons, and now we get to relive some of that, thanks to Bryan Menegus, who edited together every single movie reference The Simpsons unleashed during its first five seasons. Given that the clip, via Next Movie is almost twenty minutes, that means if every reference into the most current season was added up, the result would be as a long as a feature film itself. That’s pretty amazing, all things considered. And all things were considered.
The Simpsons writing staff is a large and eclectic bunch, so you might be seeing movie references even when you’re not realizing it. Sure, an episode like “Cape Feare” contains obvious references to both Cape Fear and The Night of the Hunter, but you might not have recognized that homage to Daniel Day-Lewis in the 1989 film Eversmile, New Jersey, a film that certainly isn't in my DVD collection.
But for every A Case of Spring Fever and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? nod, there are a dozen moments riffing on more recognizable classics like Star Wars and Gone With the Wind. (“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”) I’m pretty sure the films the series most often apes are The Godfather trilogy and Citizen Kane; doesn’t it seem like every Mr. Burns-centered story has at least one moment dedicated to Orson Wells’ cinematic classic. Remember when Kane was recently replaced as the best film ever atop the Sight & Sound poll? The movie that replaced it, Vertigo, also shows up a handful of times in the Springfield universe, as do several of Hitchcock’s other films. Agnes Skinner living in the old house from Psycho is pure genius. If only there were a reveal at the end of the series that she was actually a corpse being impersonated by her doting son...
The Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland dream sequence of Homer’s was one of the first times the series got surreal with its animation, and replacing Mrs. Robinson with Mrs. Krabappel for a reference to The Graduate was one of the first times a cartoon made me twinge with nausea. And the most impressive sequence, at least to me, was Homer chasing Bart through the house, mirroring Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And sometimes it isn’t a sequence but a mere mention of a film that gets a laugh, such as Marge saying, “I hope The Spinal Taps don’t play too loud,” or Bart excitedly watching TV: “This is where Die Hard jumps through the window.” And Selma dating the Elephant Man deserves an episode all on its own.
You won’t get references to The Prince of Tides like you will on The Simpsons, and that is one of the reasons why this series will always remain timeless. “Who wears short shorts?”
Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon, suffering from stage-4 colon cancer, has recently divulged he’s donating all of his millions of TV-earned dollars to various charities, proving that the minds behind some of TV’s snarkiest humor aren’t the hellacious demons that they were pegged to be when the series first gained popularity. Maybe somebody will make a movie about Simon’s life, which will then make it into a Season 30 episode. But until that happens, our hats go off to Simon.
To perk you back up from that bit of somber news, here’s a slew of Beatles references from the Fab Family The Simpsons.