My first few films were institutional comedies, and you're on pretty safe ground when you're dealing with an institution that vast numbers of people have experienced: college, summer camp, the military, the country club.
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I always point out to my Passover guests that the Hebrews were not living in isolation. They were at the crossroads of several great, elaborate cultures with their own mythology and religion and art and architecture and cultural belief. In fact, so many of the mythologies of the world describe the same events, just from different points of view.
I had this 'War and Peace' thing of wanting to experience war as a kind of incredible human enterprise. I even applied to Officer Candidate School. Then the practical side of me kicked in and I thought, 'I really don't want to get drafted.' So I went down to the physical and checked every psychological disorder and drug on the medical history form.