Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Ten Best Comedy Classics

Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The fast-paced film involves the unlikely relationship of two individuals, portrayed by actress Katharine Hepburn and actor Cary Grant playing against type in a classic "conflict" of the sexes: a mad-cap, scheming, aggressive, impulsive, accident-prone and daffy society heiress, and a bumbling, clumsy, absent-minded, nerdy and stuffy paleontologist from a natural history museum.

His Girl Friday (1940)
The restaurant-lunch scene in which Walter Burns (Cary Grant) deliberately sits between staid insurance salesman Bruce (Ralph Bellamy) and ex-wife and star reporter Hildy (Rosalind Russell) with words dripping in irony as he amusedly comments upon the couple's impending move to Albany to live in Bruce's mother's house, and the continuing sophisticated, fast-talking battle of the sexes (and duel of wits) between Bruce and Hildy throughout the film make it a great comedy.

The Philadelphia Story (1940)
One of the funniest opening sequences in film history is the extended, dialogue-less fight between C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) when he grabs and palms her face and forcefully pushes her through the doorway. The Philadelphia Story is one of the best screwball comedies ever made and the third to pair Hepburn with Cary Grant with whom she worked so well.

Road to Morocco (1942)
The funniest of the "Road To..." movies with castaways Bing Crosby (as Jeff Peters) and Bob Hope (as Orville 'Turkey' Jackson), and a wise-cracking camel ("This is the screwiest picture I was ever in") in the deserts of North Africa. One of the funniest parts in the film is the scene about rescuing Princess Shalmar (Dorothy Lamour) (Crosby: "We must storm the place," Hope's response: "You storm. I'll stay here and drizzle.").

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) opens up a window seat where he stumbles upon and discovers the results of his spinster aunts' latest charity act - a dead body. A flabbergasted Mortimer does multiple double-takes and eyeball rolls, wrongly believing that his eccentric uncle Theodore 'Teddy' Brewster (John Alexander) is to blame; and Teddy's delivers a yell of "CHAAAARGGGE" and then proceeds up the staircase at every opportunity while blowing his bugle, believing it is San Juan Hill all over again.

Christmas in Connecticut, (1945)
Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is one of America's most famous food writers. In her magazine columns, she describes herself as a hard working farm woman, mother, and an excellent cook. In reality, she is an umarried New Yorker who can't even boil an egg. The recipes come from her good friend Felix (S.Z. Sakall). The owner of the magazine she works for has decided that a heroic sailor will spend his Christmas on her farm. Miss Lane knows that her career is over if the truth comes out, so she goes along with the pretense.This film is packed with one comedy scene after another and will have you laughing non-stop.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Two Florida train station baggage clerks Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) are pursued by a multitude of horror characters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, etc.) in this classic comedy. The quick and witty dialogue is gut-splitting. For example, when Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) admits that he turns into a beast in the light of a full moon, Wilbur (Lou) responds: "You and 20 million other guys."

Sabrina, (1954)
The original version of this charming romantic comedy is much more convincing and entertaining than its re-make. Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of the chauffer of a wealthy family. Sabrina has a crush on David, the playboy and younger brother (William Holden) but his mother, father and his older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) are not pleased. Linus pretends to woo Sabrina to get her to stop chasing David but his plans hit a snag when he falls for her himself! Slick wisecracks abound in this Cinderella story.

Father of the Bride, (1991)
George Banks (Steve Martin) is an ordinary, middle-class man whose 21 year-old daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams) has decided to marry a man (George Newbern) from an upper-class family, but George can't think of what life would be like without his daughter. He becomes slightly insane, but his wife (Diane Keaton) tries to make him happy for Annie, but when the wedding takes place at their home and a foreign wedding planner (Martin Short) takes over the ceremony, George must try to handle the fact that people grow up.

Father of the Bride, Part 2, (1995)
George's wife and daughter are both pregnant. Poor George doesn't know if he can handle all this. Martin is hilarious as he tries to comfort both his pregnant wife and daughter, only to find himself totally exhausted. Martin Short returns as Franc Egglehoffer, the crazy wedding planner from the first film who speaks in an indecipherable accent that seems to be understood by everyone but George. This time he is both a decorator for the new baby's nursery and an aerobics instructor for the two pregnant women. He and Martin also have a funny "male bonding" moment near the end of the film. The hilarity is never-ending in this sequel.


Jeff Miller said...

Good movies, but no Marx brothers on your list?

Catholic Fire said...

I love all the Marx Borthers films - I watched them all on the Late, Late, Late Show (on a Chicago Channel) with my mom when I was a teenager. They are in a class all by themselves and so are W.C. Fields movies. May West is funny, too, in her own crazy way.

You must also like Danny Kaye who played in the Court Jester -- another one of my favorites. I expected you to question me as to my I didn't include that one. Danny Kaye was wonderful -- I wish he was still around.

Lyberty Belle said...

Excellent choices. I love all these movies.