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Peter Latham wonders:
"I am reluctant to confess that I'm not sure just what a buddy film is. The
working definition I've always used is that the "generic" buddy film
consisted of two persons who are apparently dissimilar but in important
hidden ways similar, who discover this common humanity in the course of the
film, usually on a quest. By this definition, Rain Man is a buddy film as
is Sense and Sensibility, but Thelma and Louise, and Standy By Me are
not.The latter two might be considered quest movies in which people
pursuing a quest enjoy adventures which marginally include self-knowledge.
Or is a "buddy film" simply a story of two unromantically involved persons
doing things we like to see? In that case, the Abbott/Costello films and
the Hope/Crosby Road movies are buddy films."
 
 
As far as I know, the phrase "buddy film" emerged from the 1970s and the spate
of films starring two people (usually males) involved in some form of adventure
together (sometimes a quest, sometimes not).  The common use of the terms
seemed to imply that the two stars were more or less equal in box-office
appeal and that their characters might be quite different from each other or
rather similar, as long as there was some degree of tension or rivalry
involved.  Thus, films as dissimilar as MIDNIGHT COWBOY, BAD COMPANY, and
SCARECROW become part of the grouping (I won't call it a "genre"!) but the
iconic representations are surely Newman and Redford in BUTCH CASSIDY AND
THE SUNDANCE KID and--maybe even more intensely--THE STING.
 
By these standards, RAIN MAN *might* apply (except that I would suggest that
the buddy film implies a self-awareness on the part of the characters that
Hoffman's character is incapable of in that film) and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
certainly would not.  THELMA AND LOUISE, on the other hand, would be a
female variation on a usually male theme (which in fact it was widely seen as).
 
We could anachronistically extend this marketing device back in time to
discover other "buddy films" or buddy narratives.  Hope and Crosby are not
unlikely examples.  Rene Claire's A NOUS LA LIBERTE might count as well.
In literature, we might find other, even earlier examples.
 
I hope that these ideas, however loosely expressed, are useful.
 
Don Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
 
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