Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Paul Gleason Dies

Who’s Paul Gleason, you ask? He’s a “That Guy”, one of those actors you instantly recognize but whose name you don’t know. He frequently played the same kind of character – the authority figure who blusters and poses but doesn’t really know what he’s doing. He was Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson in Die Hard, the bumbling police administrator who thinks Bruce Willis should leave it to them. He was Clarence Beeks in Trading Places and Professor McDougle in Van Wilder. Most famously, he was Dick Vernon, the asshole teacher in the Breakfast Club.


  1. #1 Jon Rowe
    May 29, 2006

    I’ve never seen Van Wilder but it’s on my list.

    I know you aren’t a big Eddie Murphy fan; but Gleason, to me, will always be the one and only Clarence Beeks. My favorite scene was when he was on a pay phone and a lady, waiting real close, tried to impatiently *signal* to him to hurry up and get off…and his classic two word response.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    May 29, 2006

    Van Wilder is very, very funny. Bravo has been doing a countdown of the 100 funniest movies of all time. If I could find a list of them, I’d like to do a post on the subject. The last few years have seen some very funny movies come out when you least expected it. Van Wilder, Eurotrip, the American Pie movies (which really are funny, much to my surprise), Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. I was happy to see the last one make the Bravo list. Neil Patrick Harris should have gotten an Oscar nomination for his cameo.

  3. #3 FishyFred
    May 29, 2006

    I’m looking for Bravo’s list right now. So far, I’ve come up with this forum thread about the list. From what I can gather, it was terrible. Monty Python and the Holy Grail was #40 (right below Mrs. Doubtfire) and This is Spinal Tap was in the 70s. UGH.

  4. #4 FishyFred
    May 29, 2006

    Okay, I have the list. Pulled it from this thread.

    100. Anchorman
    99. The Birdcage
    98. School of Rock
    97. Happy Gilmore
    96. Four Weddings and a Funeral
    95. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
    94. Waiting for Guffman
    93. The Aristocrats
    92. Father of the Bride
    91. Revenge of the Nerds
    90. Clueless
    89. Slapshot
    88. Team America
    87. The Kentucky Fried Movie
    86. Zoolander
    85. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
    84. Silver Streak
    83. Sister Act
    82. Tootsie
    81. Half Baked
    80. Lost in America
    79. Three Amigos
    78. Bananas
    77. Flirting with Disaster
    76. Ghostbusters
    75. Dumb and Dumber
    74. Trading Places
    73. City Slickers
    72. Moonstruck
    71. Roxanne
    70. The Nutty Professor (Eddie Murphy)
    69. The Blues Brothers
    68. Broadcast News
    67. Kingpin
    66. Dazed and Confused
    65. Office Space
    64. This is Spinal Tap
    63. Manhattan
    62. The Pink Panther
    61. Election
    60. When Harry Met Sally
    59. Police Academy Series
    58. Private Benjamin
    57. Swingers
    56. Young Frankenstein
    55. Bull Durham
    54. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    53. Dr. Strangelove
    52. Meet the Parents
    51. National Lampoon’s Vacation
    50. The Princess Bride
    49. American Pie
    48. American Graffiti
    47. 9 to 5
    46. The Incredibles
    45. Raising Arizona
    44. Sixteen Candles
    43. What About Bob?
    42. Harold and Maude
    41. Austin Powers
    40. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    39. Mrs. Doubtfire
    38. Best In Show
    37. Dodgeball
    36. Good Morning Vietnam
    35. Beetlejuice
    34. Rushmore
    33. Clerks
    32. Groundhog Day
    31. The Big Lebowski
    30. The 40 Year Old Virgin
    29. Legally Blonde
    28. Annie Hall
    27. A Fish Called Wanda
    26. Wayne’s World
    25. Meet the Fockers
    24. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
    23. Big
    22. Beverly Hills Cop
    21. Shampoo
    20. The Jerk
    19. Wedding Crashers
    18. Stripes
    17. M*A*S*H
    16. Old School
    15. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
    14. Napoleon Dynamite
    13. Naked Gun Series
    12. The Producers
    11. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
    10. Arthur
    9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
    8. Blazing Saddles
    7. The Wedding Singer
    6. Airplane
    5. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
    4. There’s Something About Mary
    3. Shrek
    2. Caddyshack
    1. Animal House

  5. #5 FishyFred
    May 29, 2006

    The absence of Spaceballs completely invalidates this list. The end.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    May 29, 2006

    Cool, thank you. I’ll write up a full post about it soon.

  7. #7 Karl
    May 29, 2006

    That is a fascinating list. It illustrates how many meanings are encompassed by “funny”. I had to think about some of those movies to ralize that they were funny because they were so “pointed”, e.g. Dr. Strangelove. And others that would be classified as: droll, witty, clever, smarmy, slapstick, juvenile. With all the variations on “funny” though, I don’t see how Annie Hall can be considered a “funny” movie even though it had some clever scenes from Diane Keaton. And finally, they seem to have imposed a time limit going back only 20(?) years – no Marx brothers, no three stooges, no Chaplin.
    Ed, you’re going to have a wonderful time blogging on that. You can do pages and pages.

  8. #8 Heathen Dan
    May 29, 2006

    I remember Paul Gleason. He’s a fine character actor, playing roles we love to hate. He will be missed.

    On the top 100 list, I’ve seen about 67 of them. I’m surprised Top Secret isn’t on it, as are any of Jerry Lewis’ movies (C’mon, his Nutty Professor is better than Eddie Murphy’s). Even the Odd Couple isn’t on the list! What a major oversight! I think Some Like it Hot deserves a place in the list too.

    And yeah, Harold and Kumar is damn funny!

  9. #9 Aaron M
    May 30, 2006

    Here, by the way, is Gleason’s entry in Fametracker’s excellent Hey, It’s That Guy! database.

  10. #10 LilLeaguer
    May 30, 2006

    The Producers is from 1968. They can’t mean the 2005 version, can they?


  11. #11 LilLeaguer
    May 30, 2006

    Sorry, The Pink Panther (from 1963) is the oldest I recognize. Again assuming that they don’t mean the Steve Martin version. Beats out Dr. Strangelove by one year.


  12. #12 Jessica
    November 24, 2006

    Where is The Full Monty? Where is Dave? These movies are critically acclaimed because the a good and VERY funny.

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