Favorite Comedies: The 50’s

For me, the 1950’s can be considered as one of the best decades in film. With films like Sunset Blvd, From Here to Eternity, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, All About Eve, Rear Window (Hitchcock again!), On the Waterfront, Touch of Evil, High Noon, and so many others how could it not be? However, with the introduction of television in more and more American homes during this decade comedy seemed to have hit  a bump in the road.  There were not as many comedies, and they generally were not as funny as in the past.   Of course, there were exceptions, Some Like it Hot is one of the greatest sound comedies. One thing that you will notice is  that some of the films on the list are  musical comedies. A style that at this point in time, television still could not emulate.

The previous entries in this series can be found here.

Big Deal on Madonna Street

Soliti Ignoti, I

Italian director Mario Monicelli delivers a quick and light satire of the classic caper film that pokes fun at films like The Asphalt Jungle and particularly Jules Dassin’s Rififi. The cast headed by Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Carlo Pisacane and Claudia Cardinale are all terrific. The amateur thieves are so likable even if their plan is flawed from the beginning, you want to cheer them on.

Born Yesterday

Born

Desk Set

Desk Set6

Desk Set is a charming film thanks mostly to its charismatic and beloved stars. The film is also a look back at a time when computers, first entering the workplace, were so huge they required special rooms with specific climatic conditions. Today all that computer power is compacted into a laptop that you can carry anywhere. Read my review here.

Funny Face

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Fred Astaire’s character, Dick Avery, is based on photographer Richard Avedon. The script was written by Leonard Gershe who based it on an unproduced musical he wrote, back in 1951 called, Wedding Days. Avedon was also a visual consultant on the film. the combination of the Paris locations, Gershwin classics, Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn make this a must see work of art. Read my complete take on this film here.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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  • Roman Holiday

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Singin’ in the Rain

singin-in-the-rain

Is there anything more exuberant than watching Gene Kelly singin’ and dancin’ in the rain? Generally considered one of, if not, the grandest of all musicals, and whom am I to argue, Singin’ in the Rain is a joyous delight, celebrating movies, music, dance and the talent of a cast and creators who rarely were better. You can read the rest of my review here.

Some Like it Hot

Somelikeit Hot

When someone ask what is my favorite film, I usually respond with  Rear Window or Some Like it Hot. I love these two films. I have written about both twice over the years.  Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock were directors I admired since I first understood what a director’s function was. Wilder and I.A.L Diamonds’ script for Some Like it Hot is one of the funniest ever put on paper, executed perfectly by the cast. You read read both my articles here and here.

Son of Paleface

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The Girl Can’t Help It

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This is a guilty pleasure of a film, and that’s why it’s on the list. I could easily have selected Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, or How to Marry a Millionaire,  but I enjoy this film for its historical, though lip-synced, rock and roll performances.  Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino,  Eddie Cochran and The Platters. It’s an anthropological dig into the soul of early rock and roll. For the lounge lizard set, there is also the gorgeous sultry, smokey Julie London. The film itself is a satire on the then changing music industry of the day.  Frank Tashlin who wrote and directed the film about a music agent (Tom Ewell) hired by a gangster (Edmond O’Brien) to turn his talent-less girlfriend (Jayne Mansfield)  into a rock and roll star. The film is condescending toward the music and considered it a passing fad. Still, it’s an interesting time capsule.

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10 comments on “Favorite Comedies: The 50’s

  1. I started thinking about my favourite 1950s comedies and came up with a dozen with no singing or dancing (they’re on another list). Admittedly, a lot of them are from England and two are from France.

    PS: I didn’t know Big Deal on Madonna Street was a comedy! I’ve seen the title and just made an assumption. I feel so silly. I must check it out.

    PS again: Did I ever mention that the inner me is sultry, smokey Julie London? The outer me is Joan Blondell in Desk Set, but the inner me is something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant post John! Fantastic choices. Comedy is very tricky–very hard to pull of in any medium. I love it when it is done well, though it rarely is. I’m very particular about it. Born Yesterday, Some Like it Hot, Singing in the Rain–all masterpieces that could not be attempted on television. They are uniquely cinematic. And YES! to including The Girl Can’t Help It, for all the reasons you so aptly stated. It is a guilty pleasure–deservedly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carol says:

    Brilliant choices! Some Like it Hot is a masterpiece. And I’m glad to see Desk Set getting some love and recognition.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Charet says:

    Great post 🙂 I love all of the choices 🙂 I am also happy to see you include my number 2 favorite Howard Hawks film of all-time Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Also nice to see some Frank Tashlin films on here as well. Personally, I think you should do a three way and include not only Son of Paleface and The Girl Can’t Help It, but also Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter as well. I also love seeing Big Deal on Madonna Street here. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    P.S. I just posted on my site a blog entry regarding my favorite films of director Sam Peckinpah

    https://cinematiccoffee.com/2018/06/20/my-favorite-sam-peckinpah-films/

    Like

  5. classicfilmtvcafe says:

    I just watched SOME LIKE IT HOT again a few months ago and was reminded it of its brilliance. I was delighted to see SON OF PALEFACE on your list. It’s the rare sequel that’s better than the original (which was still fairly funny).

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Greco says:

      Completely agree with you on Son of Palefac being better than the original, yet iThe Paleface is still a funny film.

      Like

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