The first and strongest National Lampoon feature, Animal House relocates Frank Capra's democratic conversation-space from courtroom to frat house, exhausting his tendency to cram as much sound and sensation as possible into a single, confined space, and creating the gross-out genre in the process. As a film, it feels disparate - a series of sketches loosely arranged around the rivalry between aristocratic and democratic colleges - but it's not really a problem, partly because it charmingly suggests the haziness of a collective memory, and partly because it's in keeping with the heterogeneous spirit of the National Lampoon publications themselves. As a result, there's a wide range of acting and comic registers - and virtually every scene feels formative, the germ of some subsequent college film, gross-out comedy or bromance - but it's probably John Belushi's performance of 'Bruto' that steals the show. Occupying a strange position between silent and sound comedy - a purveyor of visible sound, a silent shouter - Bruto feels like all three Marx brothers collapsed into one, producing a death-driven alternation between catatonia and hyperactivity that anticipates the cartoonish violence of 80s action-comedy. It's a memorable performance, largely for begging the question of what kind of longevity Belushi could possibly have had as an actor - part of a comic disregard for futurity, encapsulated in the juxtaposition of an early 60s mileu with a sexual ambience that is decidedly and wrly post-Graduate, completely disinterested in the agon of coming-to-adulthood, or of even conceiving of adults as anything more than giant children. It also signals its late 70s mileu by a darker, militaristic side to Delta Tau Chi's democratic picaresque, producing a conclusion that should be a comic reinvention but is in fact a comic anticipation of Rambo, and gathering the film's rampant, amoral energy into "the really futile and stupid gesture" that creates the editorial picaresque of National Lampoon itself, in a bizarre myth of origins.