On this very day in 1974, the legendary trucker Large Marge lost her life in a tragic road accident.

Not really, of course; the ghost of Large Marge is just one of the numerous kooky characters that children’s TV star, eternal man-child Pee-Wee Herman, encounters during 1985 movie Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

Pee-Wee (played by Paul Reubens, though for many years Reubens maintained the illusion of Herman as a genuine person, appearing in character as him wherever he went in public) has his cherished bike stolen and embarks on a cross country odyssey to retrieve it.

Reubens always had a knack for surrounding himself with wildly creative, enormously talented outsiders – so it’s perhaps no surprise that Tim Burton – the perennial Hollywood outsider, who somehow ended up making hugely successful, mainstream Hollywood blockbusters – was given his directorial debut with Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

It’s a Burton film as much as it’s a Pee-Wee Herman movie; sweetly innocent, but also cheekily subversive, incredibly witty and full of brilliant gags. It takes a skewed look at Americana through the innocent gaze of its main character, who gets himself out of serious danger numerous times with his sheer likeability.

Talking of Burton, the guy really hates clowns – and even gets to throw in some nightmarish imagery for the coulrophobic.

Burton even makes an on screen cameo himself!

There’s so many classic set pieces in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, so many iconic scenes – but it seems daft to spoil them here if you’ve never seen it before.

The final chase sequence is at once a love letter to classic movies and a genuinely hilarious action scene in one – and the cinematic adaptation of Pee-Wee’s adventure (with the real Pee-Wee’s incredible cameo) is a real cherry on top of an already delicious cake.

It never got the critical reception it deserved and, after a real life incident with Paul Reubens and an adult cinema (in which nothing illegal or even particularly scandalous took place in my opinion), public opinion drastically cooled on Pee-Wee in the 90s.

However, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is now quite rightly revered as a cult classic – though it has a few elements that tie it to the mid-80s (BMX bikers, Mr. T breakfast cereal and…Twisted Sister?), it is for the most part a timeless film, still as silly, funny and brilliantly sweet as it always was.

Be sure and tell ’em Large Marge sent ya.

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