“YOU’RE FIRED!” – SOME GREAT TV/CINEMA SACKINGS
by PAUL LAIGHT
“I was looking for a job and then I found a job. Heaven knows I’m miserable now!” Stephen Patrick Morrissey
**CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS**
Cinema and television is often about reflection. What happens on screen reflects the dreams or loves or nightmares or hates of the audience. There is no greater scene in a movie I love more than a good sacking or resignation scene. Indeed, I’ve had many jobs I’ve hated. I’ve had many jobs which hated me. Plus, in my “career” as a wageslave I’ve been constructively dismissed, made redundant and resigned from various places of employment.
So, when I see it occur on screen I thrill at the idea of a character NOT being in work; of leaving employment; of being free and damning the consequences. Of course, this is all wish fulfilment and projection as I am a responsible person and continue to punch the clock. Nontheless, if you have a desire for a certain level of existence and especially if you have children you need to pay your way. But a sucker can dream and have the mirage of hope play out on a big screen. For your consideration I have pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed, and ordered some cracking sacking or resignations scenes from television and film.
For your consideration I have pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed, and ordered some cracking sacking or resignations scenes from television and film.
AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)
This brilliant ensemble drama confirmed Kevin Spacey as an actor of some force and the scene where he turns the tables on his boss in just magnificent. I also love it when he’s interviews for the job at the fast food place because he wants a job with as little responsibility as possible. A mid-life crisis has never been so much fun!
BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF (1982)
A tragic and darkly comic “poster-man” for Thatcher’s Britain, Yosser Hughes became synonymous with the catchphrase “Gissa job!” A pale, ghost of a man who would essentially get hired and fired on the spot due to his uncontrollable anger and violence. The whole series is classic British TV at its best and in Yosser’s Story I’m both laughing and crying inside at the same time.
I’ve used this scene before on a previous blog item about great dialogue scenes and happy to use it here again. Kristen Wiig and the teenage nemesis exchange verbal blows ending in a cracking payoff right at the end. The scene has wonderful performances and cracking comic timing as they take the comedy staple of battling one-up-woman-ship right up to eleven.
“DO I NOT LIKE THAT!” ITV DOCUMENTARY (1994)
One of the greatest sporting documentaries ever! The tragi-comedy of Graham Taylor’s ill-fated attempt to get England to the 1994 World Cup is a brutally honest and painful to watch. Taylor is a fine football man but this whole documentary is one big sacking waiting to happen. David Brent doesn’t manage football teams; but if he did.
FIGHT CLUB (1999)
One of my favourite films of all time this is a wonderful, wonderful scene which captures the mood and violence of the thematics in a heartbeat. Smashing yourself up AND blaming your boss is just a magnificent way to leave a job. Awesome!
THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (1994)
While not one of the Coen Bros more celebrated films The Hudsucker Proxy has many wonderful visual tricks up its sleeve. The opening set-piece where the Chairman of the Board “resigns” is a wonderfully constructed sequence edited and shot with their usual flair, humour and precision.
KILL BILL: VOL. TWO (2004)
I really felt sorry for Michael Madsen’s Bud in this scene. Here’s a guy who is a part of infamous assassin team called The Viper Squad, in a deadbeat backwater town bouncing to make ends meet with a coked-up-douche-bag-boss to boot. For being late he is catigated in the most humiliating way and yet doesn’t react. Perhaps he’s above it all but I really wanted Bud to thump his scumbag boss but he just takes it and walks out.
NEED FOR SPEED (2014)
Great driving and car stunts do not save this video-game adaptation from being an also-ran as a narrative. However it does have a very memorable resignation scene which transplants some much needed humour in the over-serious petrol-headed plot. Here mechanic Fin quits his job in hilarious fashion.
“I’m mad as hell!” Stunning Paddy Chayefsky script holds a burning mirror up to the news media governed by a desire for ratings in Network. The film reflects flaming ire and wide-eyed fury via Peter Finch’s Howard Beale who not only is under threat of the sack but actually promises to “resign” permanently on live television. It’s a stunning film which in many ways is just, if not more, relevant today.
THE OFFICE (2001-2003)
Even though he probably deserved his sacking/redundancy for his somewhat eccentric management style I still felt sorry for David Brent. His self-delusion knows no bounds as he offers his resignation believing him to be irreplaceable only to find it accepted by the management. It’s made all the more amusing because he’s adorned in ridiculous fancy dress for Comic Relief. Priceless.
THE PRISONER (1967 -1968)
This TV show from the 1960s is an enigmatic masterpiece. Set in the mysterious Village we follow one-can-only-presume-a-former-spy called Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan) as he attempts to escape from his nefarious captors. Kafkaesque to the extreme it begins with one of the great resignation/credit sequences ever.
“BE SEEING YOU…”