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The Fourth Wall: Singing Nazis, rabbits that lay eggs ... it must be Easter weekend

This is a long weekend of commemorations — some solemn, some anything but — and, while it’s tempting to roll them all into one, finding a slice of cinematic wonderment that splices together holy days, drug use, Nazis, the destruction of the planet and nuking Peeps in the microwave is too much of a cross to bear.

Instead, we’ll just go day by day and offer up some possibilities for your viewing pleasure as you try to explain to the little ones why it’s a rabbit that delivers those eggs.

Friday, April 19

In a less religious vein, April 19 is also National Bicycle Day — which would be a fine time to track down “Breaking Away,” the 1979 Best Picture nominee which centers around a young Indiana man’s fixation with an Italian cycling team.

It’s Good Friday and the start of Passover, so what better way to start the weekend than spending 12 hours watching the four-hour version of “The Ten Commandments”? As praised as the 1956 epic rightly is for its biblical accuracy and special effects, it ... is ... ver ... ry ... long.

Of course, it could have been longer. As Mel Brooks revealed in “History of the World, Part I” as he donned Charlton Heston’s duds to portray Moses, “The Lord Jehovah has given you these fifteen ... (tablet drops) ... oy, ten ... these ten commandments.”

In a less religious vein, April 19 is also National Bicycle Day — which would be a fine time to track down “Breaking Away,” the 1979 Best Picture nominee which centers around a young Indiana man’s fixation with an Italian cycling team.

Bicycles are just the vehicle, though, for a story that won the Oscar for best screenplay that revolves around hopes and dreams, family and friendship ... and learning what truly matters in life.

National Bicycle Day, in case you’re wondering, got its start a bit over 30 years ago as a commemoration of an ill-advised jaunt in 1943 by a professor who was testing the stability of the mind when taking a dose of LSD.

And, speaking of bad trips

Saturday, April 20

Weed Day’s origins have to do with California high school students known as Waldos meeting at 4:20 in the afternoon to do a bit of extra-curricular activity — although somewhere along the way, it has been linked to the idea that April 20 is also the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

In the beginning, there was Cheech & Chong ... and the stoner film became mainstream. Weed Appreciation Day can lead film-lovers down any particular yellow brick road they choose (I have a particular fondness for the immortal Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”), but to truly understand the relationship between movies and marijuana, there’s one title that has to be on your bucket list.

It’s 1936’s “Reefer Madness” — an anti-drug docudrama that is so over-the-top “serious” in its depiction of hysteria and misinformation that it has become one of the major unintentionally hilarious Midnight Madness cult films across college campuses for decades.

“Its first effect,” the opening narration goes, “is sudden violent, uncontrollable laughter, then come dangerous hallucinations — space expands — time slows down, almost stands still ... fixed ideas come next, conjuring up monstrous extravagances — followed by emotional disturbances, the total inability to direct thoughts, the loss of all power to resist physical emotions ... leading finally to acts of shocking violence ... ending often in incurable insanity.”

Weed Day’s origins have to do with California high school students known as Waldos meeting at 4:20 in the afternoon to do a bit of extra-curricular activity — although somewhere along the way, it has been linked to the idea that April 20 is also the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

Any number of serious films could be suggested for that coincidence, but after watching “Reefer Madness,” only a comedy will do ... and, again, it comes from Mel Brooks — although not the one that first crosses your mind.

Instead, take a gander at his 1983 remake of “To Be Or Not To Be,” a musical comedy about a troupe of Polish performers working undercover to foil Nazi efforts across Europe. And while it’s no “Springtime for Hitler” from “The Producers,” Brooks as Hitler singing about his desire for peace ... “A little piece of Poland, a little piece of France ” has you laughing in spite of yourself.

April 20 is also Lima Bean Respect Day and Husband Appreciation Day — neither of which has even inspired a cinematic tribute.

Which leads us to

Sunday, April 21

Call it an Earth Day present.

Easter Sunday is upon us and — every Sunday for years in my parents’ house — that meant watching whatever network re-broadcast the 1953 classic “The Robe,” about the covering worn by Jesus and those whose lives it impacts in the days before and after the crucifixion.

If, however, you’re into All-Star Cast Bingo, you can settle down for “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and play along as the stars cross the screen — Pat Boone! Angela Lansbury! Sidney Poitier! The Professor from “Gilligan’s Island”! John Wayne! — over the 12 hours after you finish “The Ten Commandments.”

If those films are too pious for your taste, “The Passion of the Christ” too reverent and “The Life Of Brian” too irreverent, might I suggest a choice not set during the holiday, but which strikes the right combination of faith, gentle humor and reflection.

It’s 1977’s “Oh, God!” — which cast comic legend George Burns as a straight-shooting Almighty and folksinger John Denver as the flummoxed Everyman chosen to deliver the deity’s message to an America that has lost its spiritual path.

“You’re also turning the sky into mud. I look down, I can’t believe the filth,” God says at one point. “Using the rivers for toilets, poisoning my fish. You want a miracle? ‘You’ make a fish from scratch. You can’t. You think only God can make a tree? Try coming up with a mackerel.”

That would seem a natural segue into Earth Day on Monday and — while some folks would want to depress themselves by watching the documentaries “An Inconvenient Truth” or “The Day After Tomorrow” — the weekend has ended without my going there.

Call it an Earth Day present.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin wouldn’t dare hurt a Peep; so, please, no emails from People for the Ethical Treatment of Painted Sugar Easter Treats.

Robert Galvin