In the opening moments of Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O’Toole‘s T.E. Lawrence extinguishes a lit match with the tips of his fingers. When a friend, William Potter, does the same he cries out, “Awww, it damn well hurts!” “Certainly it hurts,” says Lawrence. “So what’s the trick then?” Lawrence: “The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.” The point is that Lawrence is eccentric but also an interesting man of unusual character. The same story is told to Robert Redford‘s Bob Woodward by Hal Holbrook‘s “Deep Throat” in All The President’s Men, except this time the extinguisher was Gordon Liddy. The CREEP operative performed the stunt at a party, says Holbrook, and then gave the same answer when people asked if it hurt. But this time the point was that Liddy was an unsavory wackjob. Everything is context.
For another example, consider the segment in Woody Allen‘s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (’72) in which Gene Wilder, a doctor, falls in love with a sheep named Daisy. A good chuckle in that context, but consider another after the jump.