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Fraternities and societies in cinema
While references, either explicit or implied, to Freemasonry are common enough, references can also be found to other fraternities both fictional and real. Entries followed by an asterisk have been confirmed by the editor. Please forward additional references, with details, to our editor. Entries followed by an asterisk have been confirmed by the editor.
Acrobatty Bunny (1946)
Bugs Bunny says: "We're also available for picnics, lodge meetings, children’s parties and smokers." [00:05:23]
Directed by Robert McKimson, Animation: Arthur Davis, Cal Dalton, Richard Bickenbach. Story: Warren Foster. Layouts and backgrounds: Cornett Wood, Richard H. Thomas. Voice characterization: Mel Blanc. Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling. Warner Brothers. 00:08:00 min. USA, English. Color, Mono. *
American Graffiti (1973)
Ron Howard hands Richard Dreyfuss a cheque:
Charles Martin Smith: "That's two thousand dollar!"
Steve Bolander (Ronny Howard): Mr. Jennings gave it to me to give to you. Ah, he says he's sorry it's so late but it's the first scholarship the Moose Lodge's given out. And he say's they're all very proud of you back at the lodge." [00:02:25]
"Hank Anderson is inside. Come on in and say goodbye. You know he brought your name up at the Moose Hall. You got the cheque, didn't you?" [01:04:40]
"Someday he'll make a fine Moose." [01:05:50]
American Graffiti (1973). Directed by George Lucas, written by George Lucas and Gloria Katz. Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat , Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Wolfman Jack, Bo Hopkins, Manuel Padilla Jr, Beau Gentry, Harrison Ford, Jim Bohan, Jana Bellan, Deby Celiz. 110 min / 112 min (re-release) (1978) Country: USA Language: English, Technicolor) Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo (original relase) / Dolby
Animal Crackers (1930)
Captain Spalding : "The principal animals inhabiting the African jungle are Moose, Elks and Knights of Pythias. Of course you all know what a moose is. That's big game. The first day I shot two bucks. That was the biggest game we had. As I say, you all know what a moose is. A moose runs around on the floor and eats cheese and is chased by the cats. The Elks on the other hand live up in the hills and in the spring they come down for their annual convention. It is very interesting to watch them come to the water hole. And you should see them run when they find that it's only a water hole. What they're looking for is an Elk-a-hole. One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got in my pyjamas, I don't know." [00:49:00]
Directed by Victor Heerman, written by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind. Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Lillian Roth, Margaret Dumont, Louis Sorin, Hal Thompson, Margaret Irving, Kathryn Reece, Robert Greig, Edward Metcalf. USA, English, 97 min., Mono, Black and White.
Beat the Devil (1953)
Major Jack Ross, played by Ivor Barnard (1887/06/13-1953/06/30), expounds on the Rosicrucians to Billy Dannreuther, played by Humphrey Bogart [00:28:37 - 00:29:02].
Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Edward Underdown, Ivor Barnard, Marco Tulli. Written by James Helvick (novel), ruman Capote, John Huston. 100 min. UK / USA / Italy, English / Italian. Black and White, Mono (Western Electric Sound System). 1953. *
Behind Green Lights (1946)
Drunk prizefighter: "You can't book me, copper, I'm fighting at the Elks tonight. [00:29:00] *
Directed by Otto Brower, written by Charles G. Booth
The Best of Times (1986)
A brief shot of an Odd Fellows Hall in the background [00:19:50] is only scenery, like a later scene of the city limits sign [01:10:30], but the fictional fraternity, the Loyal Order of Caribou plays a key role in the story.
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, written by Ron Shelton. Robin Williams, Kurt Russell, Pamela Reed, Holly Palance, Donald Moffat, Margaret Whitton, M. Emmet Walsh, Donovan Scott, R.G. Armstrong, Dub Taylor, Carl Ballantine, Kathleen Freeman, Tony Plana, Kirk Cameron, Robyn Lively. USA, English, 104 min., Dolby, Technicolor.
Blood Simple (1984)
A key plot point, the cigarette lighter owned by a sleazy amoral private investigator is engraved "Elks Man of the Year". [00:07:11]
Directed by Joel Coen, written by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh, Samm-Art Williams, Deborah Neumann, Raquel Gavia, Van Brooks, William Creamer, Loren Bivens, Bob McAdams, Shannon Sedwick, Nancy Finger, William Preston Robertson. USA, English, 96 min., Dolby, Colour.
A Broadway Romeo (1930)
"I haven't been doing anything lately, and I'm hungry.:
"Oh, you're a stenographer."
"How did you know?"
"Oh, that's the password of the lodge: hungry." [00:05:31]
Jack Benny, Estelle Brody, Tammany Young, Walter Wilson. Directed by Mort Blumenstock. Story by Paul Gerard Smith. U.M.&M. TV Corp. 1930 14 min. *
The Burial Society (2002)
While examples of masonic emblems appearing in film are not hard to find, the Odd Fellows logo is something of a rarity. [00:04:25] With several exterior shots filmed in the masonic section of Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, BC, this appearance is even more striking.
Rob LaBelle, Jan Rubes, Allan Rich, Bill Meilen, David Paymer, Seymour Cassel. Directed and written by Nicholas Racz. 94 min. Canada / USA , English. Color, Dolby. (Thriller) *
Cape Fear (1962)
Robert Mitchum as Max Cady says to to Barrie Chase as Diane Taylor:Go on, tell me some more about that time when you were Queen of the Veiled Prophets' Ball" [00:41:18]
Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Martin Balsam, Telly Savalas. Directed by J. Lee Thompson, written by John D. MacDonald, James R. Webb. 105 min. USA, English. Black and White, Mono (Suspense / Drama). *
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Burl Ives plays Harvey 'Big Daddy' Pollitt to Paul Newman’s Brick Pollitt:
Burl Ives: "Mendacity. Look at all the lies that I got to put up with. Pretenses, hypocracy. Pretended like I cared for Big Momma: I haven't been able to stand that women in forty years. Church! It bores me! But I go. And all those swindlin' lodges and social clubs and money grabbin' auxiliaries that’s got me on the number one sucker list! Boy, I've lived with mendacity." [00:44:16]
Directed by Richard Brooks, written by Richard Brooks (screenplay) James Poe (screenplay) Tennessee Williams. Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson, Judith Anderson, Madeleine Sherwood, Larry Gates, Vaughn Taylor. 108 min. USA, English, Metrocolor, Mono. *
Circumstantial Evidence (1935)
Arthur Vinton : "Ah, slaves, behold the newest member of the landed gentry of America."
Ralph Brooks : "That's nothing, my father is a member of the Woodmen of the World." [00:20:00]
Directed by Charles Lamont, written by Ewart Adamson (adaptation) Ewart Adamson (screenplay). Chick Chandler, Shirley Grey, Arthur Vinton, Claude King, Dorothy Revier, Lee Moran, Carl Stockdale, Eddie Phillips, Edward Keane, Robert Frazer, Huntley Gordon, Lew Kelly. 67 min. USA, English, Black and White, Mono. *
Crossfire (1947)
Corporal Arthur Mitchell (George Cooper) is rousted by an MP played by Robert Bray, when he sits on the curb in front of an Odd Fellows hall. [00:21:00]
Directed by Edward Dmytryk, written by Richard Brooks (novel) John Paxton. Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Gloria Grahame, Paul Kelly, Sam Levene, Jacqueline White, Steve Brodie, George Cooper, Richard Benedict, Tom Keene, William Phipps , Lex Barker, Marlo Dwyer. 86 min. USA, English. Black and White, Mono.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
No masonic references, but several allusions to contemporary conspiracy theory involving freemasons.
Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Sasha Jenson, Rory Cochrane, Shawn Andrews, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Michelle Burke, Marissa Ribisi, Matthew McConaughey, Joey Lauren Adams, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Jason O. Smith. Directed and written by Richard Linklater. *
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Jack D. Ripper, played by Sterling Hayden, tells Mandrake, played by Peter Sellers, about the threat of floridation [00:48:54], first introduced in 1946. Not a reference to fraternal societies but to conspiracies.
Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Tracy Reed. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Peter George (novel), Stanley Kubrick (screenplay). 93 min, UK. English / Russian. Black and White, Mono (Westrex Recording System) *
Getting a ticket (1929)
"Is that a bribe?"
"No, it's an offer."
"Well, cut it out. Cut it out."
"Oh, well. Here...."
"I said cut it out!"
"Oh, I thought you said get it out. Ge...."
"Ohhh...." (together)
"Well, so you're not an Elk." [00:06:40]
Eddie Cantor, Charles C. Wilson. Directed by Mort Blumenstock Presented by Jesse L. Lasky, Adolph Zukor 1929 10 min. *
The Goldwyn Follies (1938)
The film opens with a cascade of magazines with Adolph Menjou on the cover of Esquire, The Ritz Brothers on the cover of Film Fun, Vera Zorina on the cover of ballet, Kenny Baker on the cover of Screen & Radio Weekly, Andrea Leeds on the cover of Photoplay, and Edger Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on the cover of The National Woodmen’s Weekly, incorrectly headed "established 1843, New York".
Founded in Omaha, Nebraska, by Joseph Cullen Root on 6 June 1890 today, Woodmen is one of the largest fraternal benefit societies with more than 810,000 members who belong to more than 2,000 lodges across the United States and conduct volunteer projects that benefit individuals, families and communities. See woodmen.org
Directed by George Marshall, written by Ray Golden (comedy sequences), Ben Hecht. Adolphe Menjou, Al Ritz, Harry Ritz, Jimmy Ritz, Vera Zorina, Kenny Baker, Andrea Leeds, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Helen Jepson, Phil Baker, Bobby Clark, Ella Logan, Jerome Cowan, Nydia Westman. 120 min. USA, English. Technicolor, Mono.
Good Morning, Eve! (1934)
In an extended dream sequence, Adam introduces himself to Nero with a complex hand signal which Nero returns, commenting that they belong to the same lodge [00:05:40]. Later, Adam introduces a mediaeval knight as Mr. Kiwanis.
Directed by Roy Mack, written by Cyrus Woods, Eddie Moran, A. Dorian Atvos, Leon Errol, June MacCloy, Vernon Dent, Maxine Doyle. Technicolor, Vitaphone 1702-1703. Black and white, mono.
Gypsy (1962)
Based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s autobiography, the first half hour of this movie emphasizes the reliance Rose Hovick placed on her claimed fraternal associations. Centre place is given to the Elks and Buffalo, but the Shriners are mentioned in the song, "Some People". Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, written by Arthur Laurents (play) Gypsy Rose Lee (book). Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Paul Wallace, Betty Bruce, Parley Baer, Harry Shannon, Morgan Brittany, Ann Jillian, Diane Pace, Faith Dane, Roxanne Arlen, Jean Willes, George Petrie, Ben Lessy. 143 min. USA, English. Technicolor, Stereo.
Hello Dolly (1969)
Walter Mathau’s character marches in a parade with the "Knights of Hudson, Lodge 26." They look like Knights Templar, but the emblem on their banner is not masonic. Barbara Streisand, Michael Crawford, Directed by Gene Kelly. [unconfirmed]
Hearts are Thumps (1937)
The He-man Women-haters club was created by George Robert Phillips "Spanky" McFarland (1928/10/02- 1993/06/30) and immediately joined by Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer (1927/08/07 - 1959/01/29) and William 'Buckwheat' Thomas (1931/03/12 - 1980/10/10). Hal Roach Presents Our Gang In "Hearts are Thumps".
Directed by Gordon Douglas, photography - Art Lloyd, Film editor - Bert Jordan, Sound - William Randall. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Picture. Approved MPBA certificate no. 3001 Copyright MCMXXXVII (1937) USA , English. Black and White, Mono. (Family / Comedy / Short). *
The High Sign (1920)
Buster unwittingly is initiated into a secret society of assassins where he takes a bloody oath with his hand on a skull, and is given the secret knock and hand sign.
Joseph M. Schenck Presents "Buster" Keaton in The "High Sign". Released exclusively through Metro Pictures Corporation. Written and directed by "Buster" Keaton and Eddie Cline. 1920. *
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
When Betty Grable returns from what she had expected to be an Elks Lodge convention [00:50:04], she tells Lauren Bacall that she had got married. Lauren exclaims "Not to that Shriner!" [01:40:05]
Betty Grable (1916/12/18 - 1973/07/02), Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall (1924/09/16 - ), David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell, Alexander D'Arcy, Fred Clark (1914/03/19 - 1968/12/05), William Powell. Directed by Jean Negulesco, written by Zoe Akins , Dale Eunson. 95 min. USA, English. Technicolor, 4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Sound System). (Comedy) *
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)
Near the movie’s end Robert Morse sings: "Now, you may join the Elks, my friend, and I may join the Shriners. And other men may carry cards as members of the Diners. Still others wear a golden key or small Greek letter pin but I have learned there’s one great club that all of us are in. There is a brotherhood, of man. A benevolent brotherhood of man. A noble tie that binds all our hearts and minds into a brotherhood of man." [01:51:52]
Directed by David Swift, written by Shepherd Mead (novel). Abe Burrows (play). Robert Morse, Michele Lee, Rudy Vallee, Anthony ’scooter' Teague, Maureen Arthur. 121 min. USA, English. Color, Mono.
The Innocent Sleep (1996)
A drunken derelict in London finds himself being pursued by a corrupt cop after witnessing a murder and stumbling onto a high-level international conspiracy.
Oliver Cotton, Tony Bluto Thorn, Paul Brightwell.
Kansas City (1996)
Steve Buscemi, as Johnny Flynn, herds paid voters into an Odd Fellows Hall used as a state election polling station. [01:15:00]
Directed by Robert Altman, written by Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Harry Belafonte, Michael Murphy, Dermot Mulroney, Steve Buscemi, Brooke Smith, Jane Adams, Jeff Feringa, A.C. Tony Smith, Martin Martin, Albert J. Burnes, Ajia Mignon Johnson, Tim Snay, Tawanna Benbow. 116 min. France | USA, English, Color, Dolby.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Although no link is made with Freemasonry, in this movie the Illuminati are perceived as a group of "devious dangerous men who seek to fulfil an ancient prophesy." The Illuminati has no contemporary masonic link, and the eye in a triangle has no unique masonic significance. But their popular association with Freemasonry in fiction requires that their use in this movie be noted.
Directed by Simon West, written by Sara B. Cooper and Mike Werb. Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig. 100 min. USA, English. Colour (DeLuxe), Dolby Digital. (Action). *
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
Lewis Stone (1879 - 1953), as Judge James K. Hardy says "Mary, your husband is always braggin' around at lodge meeting, what a miracle of a cook you've got." [00:03:43] No indication is given as to what lodge. A careful review of the seventeen films in this series might reveal further clues.
Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Cecilia Parker, Fay Holden, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Ann Rutherford. Produced by Carey Wilson (uncredited), directed by: George B. Seitz, screenplay by William Ludwig. b&w, 92 minutes, Production No. 1050. (Comedy)
Oddball Hall (1990)
Two aged jewel thieves hide out in a small African nation while their stolen gems cool off. Posing as leaders of a fictitious fraternity called the Oddballs, they are mistaken for witch doctors.
Don Ameche as G. Paul Siebriese, Burgess Meredith as Ingersol and Graham Armitage as the Grand Noble Master. Directed by Jackson Hunsicker, 87 min, USA, English.
The Sting (1973)
Ray Walston, as JJ: "I don't know what to do with this guy, Henry. He’s an Irishman who doesn't drink, doesn't smoke and doesn't chase dames. He’s a Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus and he only goes out to play Faro." [00:24:50]
Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning, Ray Walston, Eileen Brennan. Directed by George Roy Hill, written by David S. Ward. 129 min. USA, English. Technicolor, Mono (Westrex Recording System. (Drama / Crime / Comedy) *
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
When Sullivan, played by Joel McCrea, asks "Who gets his picture in the papers?" Trusty, played by Jimmy Conlin replies: "Murderers. There was a swell picture of a friend of mine. He was a lodge brother. They called him the blow-torch killer." [01:16:32]
Directed and written by Preston Sturges. Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Jimmy Conlin. 90 min. USA, English. Black and White, Western Electric Microphonic Recording. (Adventure / Comedy / Romance). *
The Truman Show (1998)
The introduction of the "Elk Rotary" lawn mower into this movie about media manipulation and the nature of reality may not be an intentional reference to fraternities and service clubs. [01:04:30].
Directed by Peter Weir, written by Andrew Niccol. Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Brian Delate, Blair Slater, Peter Krause, Heidi Schanz, Ron Taylor, Don Taylor. 103 min. USA, English. Colour, Dolby. *
What price Pants, (1931)
"What do you think, this is a lodge meeting?" [00:08:27]
Joe Smith, Charles Dale (Smith & Dale), Millard Mitchell, James C. Morton, Ralph Sanford, Tammany Young. Directed by Casey Robinson USA, English. Black and White, Mono. 1931 21 min. *

* Confirmed by editor.


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