Croquet in the Movies
The sport of croquet in the cinema has yet to have it’s “Tin Cup”, it’s “Longest Yard”, or even it’s “Rocky”. But it pops up in the odd film every now and then. Herein, a list of the most well-known movies which have croquet scenes in them:
Savages, 1972: It demands to be first. The plot actually features croquet prominently, as a group of primitive people chance upon a croquet ball rolling through their woods. They follow the source of the ball back to an abandoned English estate with a croquet course set up. There, they assume the roles of aristocracy as they pretend to be the inhabitants of the estate, following through the motions more or less after some trial and error. This ends when they gather to finish the croquet game, after which they give up all pretense and return to their woods to be savages. It is unclean whether this is done to make a point about the savage nature of mankind or of croquet.
North by Northwest, 1959: The most famous. A brief shot of one of the villains playing solitaire croquet is glimpsed in the beginning of the film.
Heathers, 1989: The most stylish. Here, croquet is played for it’s status value by a ruling clique in this teen black comedy. The movie quickly leaves croquet behind however, as all the principles begin killing each other and themselves.
Alice in Wonderland, various remakes: Most whimsical. The croquet scene is interpreted more or less as Lewis Carrol wrote it, most famously in the Disney version. Flamingo mallets, hedgehog balls, and playing-card wickets!
Barry Lyndon, 1975: The least known. Stanley Kubrick had barely begun his career at this point, so this is one of his lesser known works. The lead character plays croquet along the way to ascending the heights of European high society in the 18th century, even teaching it to his son at one point. It is speculated that the prominence of croquet in this film led Kubrick to famously replace the croquet mallet with an ax when he translated Stephen King’s novel “The Shining” to film for his next project.
Nosferatu, 1922: Most historic. Two of the characters are engaged in a croquet match, when they are interrupted by the arrival of a letter. A minor plot point, so much so that it is cut from shorter versions. A Room with a View, 1985; Howard’s End, 1991; The Remains of the Day, 1993: Most redundant. James Ivory has turned croquet into his main background activity in his films, by which time it may be certain that if a movie shows cultured people in period costumes whacking wooden balls around, it’s probably a James Ivory movie on it’s way to an Oscar.