A particular old staple of westerns is almost exactly the same thing as a particular old staple of comedies. I’m talking about saloon brawls and pie fights, respectively. Both have roots as old as film itself. One is played for action and the other for laughs, but both work the same way and serve the same purpose.
It is wrong to apply logical thought to these two phenomenons. They happen in the kinds of movies they happen in because they are supposed to happen in the kinds of movies they happen in. If you follow me.
But I can’t help myself. My logical mind is compelled to break it all down. Here’s what I can’t quite figure out.
Saloon fights and pie fights start exactly the same way. First, Guy #1 hits Guy #2 (with either a punch or a pie, whichever). Guy #2 gets mad and attempts to retaliate. But as he’s swinging, Guy #1 ducks, and Guy #2 hits Guy #3 instead. This gives Guy #3 a reason to join the fight.
So far as good. Everything has proceeded quite logically.
But here’s where I get confused. As Guy #3 begins his own retaliation, somewhere in the background a Guy #4, hitherto unaffected by the proceedings, decides for no good reason to take a fist (or pie) and smack Guy #5, who was just standing there minding his own business. And suddenly everybody in the room is throwing punches (pies) at each other. There’s usually a cut somewhere in there, which makes it tough to tell if all those other people had good reasons to get involved. But I’m pretty sure Guy #4 — and there is always a Guy #4 — is out of his gourd.