I personally know four women of a certain age — all movie-lovers, all with a fair amount of living and life-wisdom under their belts, three with elegant educations and top-level jobs — who know nothing about the plot of Luis Bunuel‘s The Exterminating Angel (’62). Is that a crime? No. But one unfortunate result is that these four women didn’t get the joke about Bunuel and this film told by Owen Wilson in Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris. It sailed right over their heads and out into space.

Now I’m getting the idea that perhaps this joke (which I’m not going to explain) is being missed by thousands. How many HE readers got it or missed it? How many of you know of people who didn’t get it due to never having seen or even read about The Exterminating Angel?

When I first saw Midnight in Cannes I mentioned that some of the jokes iwon’t be fully enjoyed unless the audience has at least a half-assed understanding of who the Lost Generation expats of 1920s Paris were — i.e., Bunuel, Ernest Hemingway, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, etc. — and what their work was about. “You need to be at least semi-educated,” I wrote. “As we all know that leaves out a significant chunk of 2011 moviegoers so we’ll see where that goes.”