In looking back at the 1980’s I was surprised how rich the decade was in comedies. Films that could have made my list but did not include Airplane!, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The Naked Gun, Tootsie, Spaceballs and Stripes. There are others, but you get the idea. The 80’s included one of the last great romantic comedies along with Woody Allen continuing to produce some great films and the underrated Albert Brooks.
You can find earlier post in this series easily by clicking right here!
The 1970’s in film ranks as one of the best decades in its history. It’s up there with the 1930’s and 1950’s. The Godfather 1 & 2, Mean Streets, The Last Picture Show, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Five Easy Pieces, All the President’s Men, American Graffiti, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Apocalypse Now, The Exorcist, Chinatown, A Clockwork Orange, Rocky, The Sting, The Shining, Dog Day Afternoon, The French Connection, The Conversation, Serpico and many more. Comedies had their share of greatness too, led by Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, in a decade that thrived on great cinema. Continue reading →
If you expecting to find at least one of those Doris Day comedies to pop up on this list, well sorry but Ms. Day, with or without Rock Hudson, will be found nowhere on site. I am not an admirer, or fan. Day does have a nice comedic touch and some of her comedies are pleasant (Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back), but her virginal, sugary, spunky self, I just find annoying. Like Mary Tyler Moore’s Lou Grant once said, “I hate spunk.” I don’t mean to turn this into a tirade against Ms. Day, but in the 1960’s, the times, they were a changin.’ and films like With Six You Get Eggroll did not cut it. Anyway, here is my list for the decade that helped defined me.
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.
Comedy films of the 1940’s were a fairly diverse group from social commentary, satire to slapstick. From the sophistication of Ernest Lubitsch to vaudeville based films of Abbott and Costello. I love it all. Abbott and Costello narrowly missed the list, as did so many others. The 1940’s was a rich period for comedy in films. It wasn’t easy narrowing the list down to just ten. This is the fourth post in the series. You can read about them here. Continue reading →
The 1930’s brought sound movies to the forefront. Along with it came the fast talking world of screwball comedies, the best of the Marx Brothers and much more. It was hard to limit this list to just ten. But that is the name of the game. The great film critic Andrew Sarris once described “screwball comedy as a sex comedy without the sex.”
If there ever was a golden age of comedy, it was the 1920’s. Three geniuses led the way: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. There were others of course, Harry Langdon, Laurel and Hardy, Snub Pollard, Mabel Normand, Larry Semon and Fatty Arbuckle among others. But it was the top three who reached the exhalted status of genius. Of the three, there was always a battle on who was the greatest. Lloyd always seemed to take the third spot. No disgrace considering the talent of the other two. Between Chaplin and Keaton, it’s always been a matter of individual taste. Chaplin was the sentimental artist with a social conscience. Keaton’s comedy was always more cerebral. I personally love both and have always went back and forth on who I thought was better. I have resigned myself to the fact that they both share the top spot.
This is the first in a series of monthly posts that will highlight my favorite comedies of each decade. Key word here is favorite and not necessarily the best. Comedy is a highly subjective category. While many film lovers see Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot to be one of the best comedies, there are folks, well informed film lovers, who disagree.
I myself believe many of our modern day comedies rely too much on trashy jokes and not enough on sophisticated humor. A fart joke gets the laugh. Why bother with intelligent humor. Now, I have nothing against low-brow or bathroom humor, but how many times do we have to see Will Farrell take off his shirt, pants, or more (Old School, Blades of Glory, Talledega Nights, Anchorman, Step Brothers, Daddy’s Home)? Today’s audiences also have an intolerance for the buildup to the joke. Attention spans have diminished over the years. Television is partially to blame for this; the jokes have to come quick to get them all in a twenty minutes time frame. Laurel and Hardy would never survive in today cinema world. It’s not that there are not good comedies today. The Big Sick is one of my favorite films of 2017, and Judd Apatow has a pretty good record. However, overall they are far and in between. Continue reading →