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 →
The Odd Couple was one of those shows that was never a huge hit during its original TV run. For five-seasons it ran on ABC and not once did it crack the Top 20 in the Neilson ratings. However, once the show was cancelled and put in syndication, it became a favorite, still running today on various cable stations and streaming services. The shows two stars made more money once the show went into syndication than they did during the original run.
The show was based on Neil Simon’s hit Broadway play  that opened in March of 1965 and ran for more than two years. Walter Matthau played Oscar Madison, the sloppy, gambling sports-writer for The New York Herald with Art Carney as the finicky television news writer, Felix Unger.  The play won numerous Tony Awards including Best Play, Best Actor for Matthau, and Best…
There was a lot of buzz about A Countess From Hong Kong when it was first announced. After all, it would be Charlie Chaplin’s first film in more than ten years. The buzz increased, even more, when it came out that Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren would star. What a combination! The Little Tramp, Stanley Kowalski and Italy’s greatest export since pizza and pasta. How could it miss? Continue reading →
What would happen if you took an arrogant, caustic and cynical New York City intellectual and transplanted him into the heartland of America? That was the premise of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s hit play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. The play premiered on Broadway in October 1939 and ran for more than two years, 730 performances to be exact. Legend has it Moss Hart came up with the idea after a visit from the prickly theater critic, New Yorker columnist, Alexander Woollcott, to his country home and began making one demand after another, including shutting off the heat and insisting on a bed time snack consisting of cookies and a milkshake. Woollcott was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table, a self-proclaimed group of witty and sometimes verbally vicious intellectuals trading barbs and witticisms. They met every day for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel. Among the members were Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Robert E. Sherwood, Heywood Broun, Ruth Hale (Broun’s wife) and Marc Connelly. There were other members, some officially part of the group and others who were unofficial occasional visitors. Continue reading →
Arsenic and Old Lace is the story of two sweet and charming elderly sisters who happen to be mass murderers. It’s a delightfully hysterical farcical comedy with some dark overtones. Perfect for this time of the year and especially on Halloween. Continue reading →
Deanna Durbin spent the majority of her short career, she retired in her late twenties, at Universal where she made a series of light, but popular musicals that made her one of the top stars of the time. However, like many artists, Durbin wanted to do something different. In 1944 and 1945, she got her chance with the film noir, Christmas Holiday and the following year with the comedy/mystery film, Lady on a Train. Neither film did well at the box office. Durbin soon returned to her musicals until she retired, married her third husband, director Charles David, and moved to France where she lived for the rest of her life. Continue reading →